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Economic woes 'hit child happiness'

Job losses and parental anxiety about the economy are likely to have a major impact on children's happiness, a charity has warned.

Children in households reporting a drop in income over the past year were more than twice as likely to experience low levels of happiness as those in homes where income had risen, research for the Children's Society has shown.

Of those in households where income increased, 7% reported low levels of well-being, as opposed to 15% in households where income had fallen. Where income had not changed, 10% reported low levels of happiness.

The research conducted between October and last month into 4,000 children in the UK aged from eight to 15 years old and their parents showed parental worry about the state of the economy had an impact on children's happiness.

Those living in homes where parents rated themselves as "very concerned" about the economy were 5% more likely to report low well-being at 13%, compared to 8% in households where parents were unconcerned by the economic situation.

The poll showed a clear difference between happiness levels in children living in the top and lowest social classes.

In the lowest social class, 18% of children said they had low well-being compared to 6% in the top social class. In between these two extremes, there was little difference between the social classes in the proportion of children reporting low levels of happiness.

Workless households also produced unhappier children with 16% of young people in households where no-one works full time having low well-being compared to 10% living in homes where at least one adult is in full-time work.

Bob Reitemeier, chief executive of the Children's Society, said: "The findings are deeply concerning for everybody who has the interests of Britain's children at heart. As the spending cuts take hold, the well-being of our children is under threat. The consequences are likely to hit the most vulnerable children hardest.

"We fear that they will pay a life-long economic and social price for current political decisions. It is vital that when local and national government make cuts that affect our children's lives, well-being must be prioritised, not forgotten."

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