Written evidence submitted by Understanding Society, the UK Household Longitudinal Study, University of Essex (CYP0023) [House of Commons. Health and Social Care Committee. Children and young people’s mental health inquiry]

Publication type

Parliamentary Paper

Publication date

March 23, 2021


Key points: Understanding Society, the UK Household Longitudinal Study, is a world-leading longitudinal survey of continuity and change in UK life. Most 10-15-year-olds are happy with life as a whole, but on a scale of 0-10, happiness with life as a whole fell from 8.17 to 7.77 between 2009-10 and 2017-18. The number of children scoring between 0 and 4 has increased significantly – from 3.8% in 2009-10 to 5.9% in 2017-18. There are gender differences. Girls’ happiness with life as a whole has fallen further than that of boys. Boys’ happiness with their appearance has been higher than that of girls in every wave of the Study, but in recent years, this particular gender gap has reduced. 15-year-olds in the UK fare less well than those elsewhere in Europe, and with a greater gender gap. There are potential links between life satisfaction among this age group in the UK and fear of failure, and changes in levels of child poverty. These links “relate to areas where there have been changes in UK policy, such as rising child poverty as a result of austerity, and changes to schooling, in the last 10 years”. These are “concrete areas for policy attention”. Children’s life satisfaction is linked to material deprivation. The wellbeing of parents and their adolescent children is interrelated, but it is mother and daughter connections that count. The family should be thought of as a dynamic system, for instance when planning clinical interventions. This is particularly pertinent in families with an adolescent daughter. Screens and social media use are unlikely to bear major responsibility for youth suicide trends.



- https://committees.parliament.uk/work/1001/children-and-young-peoples-mental-health/publications/
- https://committees.parliament.uk/work/1001/children-and-young-peoples-mental-health/publications/
- https://committees.parliament.uk/writtenevidence/23110/pdf/



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