BBC: Mapping Children’s Chances


Mapping Children’s Chances

By BBC News, June 26 2013.

Is paid leave available for mothers of infants? 

The biggest ever global picture of children’s well-being, education and family life has been assembled into a series of maps by the University of California, Los Angeles. “When you look at a map, everyone’s eyes go straight to where they live,” says Dr Jody Heymann, director of the university’s World Policy Analysis Centre. In the US, they might be surprised to see how unusual it is not to have a statutory right to maternity pay.



Is paid leave available for fathers of infants?

There is plenty of information published about childhood and families, says Dr Heymann. “But with immense respect, much of it’s unusable, no one is going to read the reports.” But putting information into maps gives citizens the type of instant overview usually only available to academics or governments, she says. “It shows what can be achieved.” Here is a small selection of dozens of maps produce by the UCLA team.

Do constitutions guarantee the right to education for children with disabilities? 

The maps can challenge what is considered to be usual or acceptable, by showing what happens in other countries, say the researchers. This map shows how few countries ensure the legal right of an education for children with disabilities.

Are mothers of infants guaranteed breastfeeding breaks at work? 

There are also cases where there are rights for mothers in developing countries which are not available elsewhere. The maps draw upon data on public policies from 193 UN member states.

How much education must primary-school teachers complete? 

“The impact of maps means that you can see clusters that you wouldn’t see before. It shows the patterns,” says Dr Heymann. Wealthier countries expect and can provide higher levels of education for primary teachers.

How many hours are 14-year-olds legally protected from working on a school day?

There are also cases where there are rights for mothers in developing countries which are not available elsewhere. The maps draw upon data on public policies from 193 UN member states.

What is the minimum age to purchase alcohol legally?

This chart shows that there are legal limits over children’s access to alcohol in many countries, with cultural as well as economic differences.

Is smoking banned in schools?

The global maps reveal how much attitudes to health can differ. In many countries there are no smoking bans for schools.

Is there a motor vehicle restraints law?

What is safety in childhood? In many countries there are no legal obligations to wear seat belts in a car.

How many dentistry personnel are available?

The world is starkly divided in the provision of health care. Western countries and most of south America have access to dentists unavailable to families in most other countries.

Do constitutions protect against discrimination in work based on ethnicity?

There are very few countries where there are specific laws against racial discrimination at work.

How much would an unemployed minimum wage worker receive per day?

Social conditions and the economics of family life are all part of the story of children’s well-being and their ability to progress. There is much less assistance available in many fragile African economies.

What proportion of the population has access to safe drinking water?

The chances of a child getting a safe drink of water vary widely according to where a child is born. In many places the odds are stacked against them.


Source: The maps are produced by UCLA’s World Policy Analysis Centre, Adult Labour Database


For a slideshow of the maps that accompany the above captions, see BBC News, Mapping Children’s Chances, June 26 2013.