Children’s Chances

How Countries Can Move from Surviving to Thriving

Jody Heymann with Kristen McNeill

About this book

Most parents care deeply about their children. If that were enough, we would not see the inequalities we currently do in children’s opportunities and healthy development—children out of school, children laboring, children living in poverty. While the scale of the problems can seem overwhelming, history has shown that massive progress is possible on problems that once seemed unsolvable. Within the span of less than twenty-five years, the proportion of people living in extreme poverty has been cut in half, the number of children under age five that die each day has dropped by over 12,000, and the percentage of girls attending school has climbed from just three in four to over 90 percent.

National action, laws, and public policies fundamentally shape children’s opportunities. Children’s Chances urges a transformational shift from focusing solely on survival to targeting children’s full and healthy development. Drawing on never-before-available comparative data on laws and public policies in 190 countries, Jody Heymann and Kristen McNeill tell the story of what works and what countries around the world are doing to ensure equal opportunities for all children. Covering poverty, discrimination, education, health, child labor, child marriage, and parental care, Children’s Chances identifies the leaders and the laggards, highlights successes and setbacks, and provides a guide for what needs to be done to make equal chances for all children a reality.


“No previous analysis has so conveniently compiled comprehensive global information about such a wide range of public policies related to child development.”—K.H. Jacobsen, Choice

“If we are to reach the millions of children who have been excluded from recent progress on child rights, we need to know where we stand today, and where we need to go tomorrow. We need tools that give us this crucial information, tools that share it, and tools that inspire and guide us. This book provides that inspiration and guidance, showing how crucial policies can guarantee the well-being of children worldwide.”—Carol Bellamy, Past Executive Director, UNICEF

“With sterling scholarship and masterful research, Heymann and McNeill’s book offers a blueprint to advance the well-being of the world’s children that is both much needed and optimistic.”—Felton Earls, Harvard Medical School

“This remarkable book brings together years of work that is both painstaking and inspired. Jody Heymann, with Kristen McNeill, proves with exhaustive country-by-country evidence the phenomenal difference that public policy makes in defeating child poverty and creating better lives. It is an enormously important achievement.”—Peter Edelman, Georgetown University

“Jody Heymann continues to be a leading voice for working families worldwide. With Children’s Chances, she provides key insights into how to promote healthy child development and reduce inequalities in child health. This book is essential for anyone who cares about improving the lives of children around the world.”—Mark Schuster, Harvard Medical School

“With its amazing synthesis of evidence, Children’s Chances maps out what countries are now doing—and what more they can do—to address problems in the lives of children around the world. This book is a valuable resource, not just for agencies like Save the Children, but for individual citizens who champion all children’s opportunities to develop to their fullest potential.”—Jasmine Whitbread, CEO, Save the Children

Source: Havard University Press



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