Risk and Childhood Poverty: Notes from Theory and Research

Chronic childhood poverty is often considered synonymous with the risk of adverse outcomes. This paper considers the ways in which notions of risk, poverty and childhood are constructed and supported through empirical research. Poverty and childhood are often implicitly assumed to be conditions that place young human beings at greater risk. The paper reviews the differences between how poverty has been defined and conceptualised, and how it is experienced as a lived reality. It discusses how risk is constituted and approached as a subject of empirical research and draws attention to the discourses, debates and theories concerning universal childhoods and, therefore, universal risks to children. The paper further reflects on contributions from human development
research that inform notions of risk to children, and concludes that any evaluation of risk in contexts of chronic childhood poverty must include both the structural implications and complexities of poverty in a given context, as well as the multidimensional nature of growth and development among poor children.

Published 2012-04-12