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ISCH COST Action A19
Children's Welfare

The ageing of the European populations has gained momentum during the last part of the twentieth century. This development has caused much concern in European governments and public debates, but the focus on the role of children’s welfare in these debates is limited. COST A19 Children’s Welfare has highlighted the linkages between children’s welfare and ageing societies. Is children’s welfare threatened by the rising number of old people? Is children’s welfare a necessity for young peoples’ willingness to produce children? Are falling birth rates private solutions to public problems? While Europe is facing a common ageing of societies, the rate of the development is stronger in some countries than in other. Lessons should be learned from this variation. The Action, which included 20 member countries, has published a set of pan-European conclusions (Norwegian Centre for Child Research, 2004) and a second major, thematically structured report (University Press of Southern Denmark, 2007). The Action co-organised the high-profile international conference “Childhoods 2005” and organised a training school in connection with its final conference in June 2006. The three most important issues were children’s material welfare, their access to their own time and space, and children’s rights, including how they can take part in public debate. Poverty is a topic of particular concern, with one child in five in Europe now living below the poverty line. The growth in single and separated parents restricts family incomes, while larger families also tend to be poorer. The study concluded that income from two parents is the main determinant of material well being, but even that is a precarious factor. The balance between the welfare of the child, parental income and the role of the state is crucial to Europe’s future. As well as reducing in numbers, children tend to be more segregated than they used to be, whether at home, in school or in the 'virtual' space of a computer or TV. Children are rarely just around, making them less visible to the world at large and poorly understood by childless adults. Their free time is also diminishing - even much of their 'leisure time' is given over to organised activities. In some countries, these obligatory tasks can take as long as an adult working week. On the other hand, children now also travel more widely, on holiday or to visit a separated parent, which broadens their perspective. Children’s rights, and their place in society have become a concern only in the past decade or so. These rights may conflict with adult interests, in local planning issues, in divorce and in cases of migration. The contribution that children make to society, through schoolwork, for example, has to be recognised. Despite the distancing between generations, children need to be acknowledged as contributing to the common good, rather being a family responsibility.

(Descriptions are provided by the Actions directly via e-COST.)

General Information*

Chair of the Action:

Prof An-Magritt JENSEN (NO)

Vice Chair of the Action:

Prof Giovanni B. SGRITTA (IT)

Science officer of the Action:


Administrative officer of the Action:

Ms Carmencita MALIMBAN


Action Fact Sheet

Download AFS as .RTF

Memorandum of Understanding

Download MoU as PDF

Progress Report

Download Progress Report as PDF

Final Report

Download Final Report as PDF


* content provided by e-COST.
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Last updated: 02 May 2011 top of page