Working Paper

Engaging With Children’s Voices on Poverty: The Value of Their Lived Experience A Narrative Review

Published: 2022

Non-technical summary:

This narrative review summarises the key concepts and findings from an expanding knowledge base on children’s lived experiences of poverty. Even at a young age, children appear to be aware of poverty and social class issues, and the stigma associated with being labelled ‘poor’. Many young children fear being made to feel different because they don’t have the same access to opportunities and possessions as children from more affluent families. Children’s narratives reveal that living in poverty exerts a profound impact on their wellbeing, with many children expressing sadness, anger, frustration and worry about their family’s financial situation. Children growing up in poverty spoke about distress related to unsafe or insecure housing, family conflict and lack of safety. Additionally, children also experience difficulties in schooling, including access to essential school items as well as additional expenses such as school trips, and some demonstrate reduced aspirations and hope for the future. The social costs of poverty include difficulties establishing and maintaining friendships including experiences of bullying, as well as limited participation in social and leisure activities.

A wide range of coping strategies are reported by children as they respond to challenging experiences related to living in poverty, demonstrating they are not passive recipients of their experience. Research on how children experience poverty in their everyday lives can help to identify what types of support children and their families want to enable policymakers and others co-develop of initiatives that can better meet children and their family’s needs.


Cross D.Mandzufas J.Monks H.

Monks, H., Mandzufas, J., & Cross, D. (2022). ‘Engaging With Children’s Voices on Poverty: The Value of Their Lived Experience A Narrative Review’, Life Course Centre Working Paper Series, 2022-07. Institute for Social Science Research, The University of Queensland.