Chapter seven focuses on health. It explores how poor health can be a risk, cause and consequence of poverty. It illuminates the ways in which poor health has particularly strong consequences for children and young people. There is a strong association between health and poverty with poor health being a universally accepted predictor of poverty across time and place. What is less well-known is that the association is bi-directional, that is that poverty also causes poor health. Even short-term falls in income increase the risk of ill health (Smith and Middleton, 2007: 58). This reverse causal relationship is strong and is also seen in people with disabilities: those who become disabled are more likely to have been poor beforehand. Another facet of health that is important to the study of children living in poverty is whether the health condition is physical or mental. Poverty is strongly related to poor mental health in adults and children. Furthermore, children are increasingly presenting with poor mental health themselves. This chapter focuses predominantly on mental health as an increasing risk to the wellbeing and outcomes of children living in poverty now and in the future.
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