Spirit Level author Kate Pickett in today’s Guardian CiF argues “How to make children happy? Reduce social inequality”. She is welcoming the UNICEF report exposing the damage that high income inequality and consumerism do to family wellbeing.
Meanwhile the Daily Mail goes straight for the guilt angle, blaming parents for spoiling children with designer labels to make up for lack of quality care, and quoting right winger Jill Kirby:
It is amazing that this study manages to blame consumerism rather than lack of parental discipline or the absence of fathers in the family. The reason why this country has low levels of child well-being compared with Sweden and Spain is surely connected to our much higher levels of family break up.
There’s a good riposte to this from Madeleine Bunting also on Guardian CiF “Guilt is for ministers, not mothers”. She follows her initial argument against yet another knee-jerk reaction blaming working mothers, by looking at why consumption of expensive brands is so linked to status in this country compared to Spain and Sweden:
surely relevant is the “strong and shared social expectation of family” evident in both Spain and Sweden, an alternative value system to challenge materialism