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  • 1.
    Takeuchi, Hajime
    et al.
    Umeå University, Faculty of Medicine, Department of Epidemiology and Global Health. School of Social Welfare, Bukkyo University, Kyoto, Japan.
    Lee, Sung-Hee
    Department of Social Sciences, University of Derby, Derby, United Kingdom.
    Ivarsson, Anneli
    Umeå University, Faculty of Medicine, Department of Epidemiology and Global Health.
    Towards optimising children’s capability and tackling relative child poverty in high-income countries: the cases of Japan, Sweden and the UK since 20002022In: Global Health Action, ISSN 1654-9716, E-ISSN 1654-9880, Vol. 15, no 1, article id 2084230Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    Background: We question why child poverty still prevails even in high-income countries, such as Japan, Sweden and the United Kingdom. We address the intersection between social relations and individual experiences that should be considered when optimising children’s capability.

    Objectives: The study is therefore aimed at exploring compensatory societal actions taken to optimise children’s capability among these affluent countries. In order to do so, we operationalised children’s capability by including key societal domains along with statistical indicators and variables from relevant sources.

    Methods: A secondary quantitative method was adopted by drawing upon data sources from 2000 up to almost 2020 from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, the World Bank and the United Nations Children’s Fund, with these being complemented by governmental data. Given a lack of currently available and comparable data for those three countries, four key societal domains were explored in an absolute descriptive analysis.

    Results: It is obvious that child poverty prevailed over the focal 20 years in these three high-income countries. Also, the exploratory data analysis revealed a lack of sufficient supporting social services in each societal domain. This demonstrates that optimising children’s capability should not just be about subsidising economic resources, but also supporting all initiatives aimed at addressing the lack of interactions between each domain of children’s capability.

    Conclusions: The study shows how essential it is to consider societal compensatory measures along with supporting the financial circumstances. We therefore argue that optimising children’s capability should not only be about subsidising economic resources, but also ensuring adequate social resources and relations.

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  • 2.
    Takeuchi, Hajime
    et al.
    Umeå University, Faculty of Medicine, Department of Epidemiology and Global Health. School of Social Welfare, Bukkyo University, Kyoto, Japan.
    Napier-Raman, Sharanya
    School of Medicine and Health Sciences, University of Sydney, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia.
    Asemota, Osamagbe
    Department of Paediatrics, University of Calabar Teaching Hospital, Calabar, Nigeria.
    Raman, Shanti
    Department of Community Paediatrics, South Western Sydney Local Health District, Liverpool, New South Wales, Australia.
    Identifying vulnerable children’s stress levels and coping measures during COVID-19 pandemic in Japan: a mixed method study2022In: BMJ Paediatrics Open, E-ISSN 2399-9772, Vol. 6, no 1, article id e001310Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    Background: The COVID-19 pandemic has disproportionately affected vulnerable children and youth. In Japan, despite evidence that the paediatric age group holds a lower risk of infection than the older population, there was a nationwide closure of schools as an early public health measure. Acknowledging that school closures brought heightened psychological and physical stress among Japanese children, we aimed to explore vulnerable children’s experiences of the COVID-19 pandemic in Japan, focusing on socially disadvantaged subset of the population.

    Methods: We used an adapted version of the ‘Perceived Stress Scale for Children’, with additional free-text space, delivered online to children attending three non-profit organisations which provide support for this group of vulnerable persons and families experiencing social disadvantage. Simple descriptive analysis was undertaken on the quantitative data; we used thematic and content analysis for the qualitative data.

    Results: Thirty-six children participated in the online survey, mean age was 11.3 years, majority (61%) were male. The mean overall stress score (score distribution width: 0–39) was 14.8, with no difference in score distribution by age or gender. Free-text responses obtained revealed a range of stressors and protective factors. Schooling, COVID-19 fears, family tension and pandemic measures were sources of stress; family—in particular, the support of the mother—food, friendship and recreation were sources of comfort. While most responses indicated positive coping mechanisms, some displayed maladaptive behaviours.

    Conclusions: The children in this cohort had high mean stress scores overall. Responses indicated that they were acutely reactive to COVID-19 as well as pandemic public health measures, and that missing schooling and contact with friends exacerbated their stress. Family was a source of strength as well as stress. A tailored public health response to COVID-19 needs to take into account the concerns voiced by vulnerable child populations be based on equity and child rights.

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  • 3.
    Takeuchi, Hajime
    et al.
    School of Social Welfare, Bukkyo University, Japan.
    Sato, Youichi
    Seikyo Kodomo Clinic, Japan.
    Yamaguchi, Eri
    Chidoribashi General Hospital, Japan.
    Wada, Hiroshi
    Kenwakai Hospital, Japan.
    Ivarsson, Anneli
    Umeå University, Faculty of Medicine, Department of Epidemiology and Global Health.
    Income inequality and child rearing environment in Japan: a nationwide clinically based study2020In: Global Social Security Review, Vol. 14, p. 1-15Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    Children growing up in poverty have poorer life prospects and that this is true even for children living in high-income countries. According to the OECD Family Database, in 2014, Japan ranked the 26th out of 37 countries in terms of high relative child poverty. This research project, involving the cooperation of medical institutions nationwide, had the aim to explore income inequality and child rearing environment across Japan. We performed cross-sectional questionnaire studies involving children 0-15 years of age and their caregivers during 2014-2015. Out of the 2,214 respondents, 1,907 (86%) had reliable information on both household income and family structure. Our main findings were that one-fifth of the children lived in relative poverty and only one in ten out of these families received public assistance, about two-thirds of single parents (mostly mothers) lived in poverty. Still, as many as two-fifths of the parents living in poverty assessed their life circumstances as satisfactory. Thus, likely the parent does not recognise that these harsh life circumstances imply that their child's capability is and will be deprived. This can be considered as structural violence and does not comply with the standards of social justice. We argue that when striving to eradicate child poverty, it is important to tackle both limited financial resources and deprived capability. Society as a whole, including the medical institutions and staff, need to stand up for these vulnerable children.

  • 4.
    Takeuchi, Hajime
    et al.
    Umeå University, Faculty of Medicine, Department of Epidemiology and Global Health. School of Social Welfare, Bukkyo University, Kyoto, Japan.
    Satoh, Yoichi
    Wakayama Seikyo Hospital, Wakayama, Japan.
    Raman, Shanti
    Department of Community Paediatrics, South Western Sydney Local Health District, NSW, Liverpool, Australia.
    Spencer, Nick
    Division of Mental Health and Wellbeing, Warwick Medical School, University of Warwick, Coventry, United Kingdom.
    Did inequalities in mothers’ and children’s health and well-being in Japan increase through the pandemic?: evidence from nationwide surveys and routinely collected data2024In: Children, E-ISSN 2227-9067, Vol. 11, no 3, article id 330Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    Marginalised families faced significant challenges during the COVID-19 pandemic. This study explores inequalities in Japanese mothers’ and children’s health and well-being and family economic stability before and during the pandemic. Data sources were as follows: nationwide surveys in 2019 and 2021 of families with children using medical institutions across Japan; infant mortality and adolescent suicide rates between 2018 and 2021 from publicly available sources. Outcomes by poor and non-poor families were compared for 2019 and 2021 using simple descriptive statistics. Poor mothers’ part-time working increased from 41% to 61% and regular employment was reduced by two thirds. The well-being of poor mothers worsened from 39% to 55%. Employment opportunities and well-being did not change for non-poor mothers. School subsidies among poor families increased from 23% to 55%. The infant mortality rate (IMR) among unemployed families increased significantly from 12.9/1000 to 18.2/1000 between 2018 and 2021 compared with a decreasing overall IMR from 1.9/1000 to 1.7/1000. Suicide rates in 10–19-year-olds increased over the same period although no socio-economic indicators were available. Inequalities in mothers’ and children’s health and well-being indicators and family economics increased between 2019 to 2021 in Japan. This study cannot attribute causes but suggests a possible role of the pandemic.

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