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Are care leavers significantly dissatisfied and depressed in adult life?

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Abstract:

Using data from the National Child Development Study (NCDS), Ann Buchanan explores the links between children who have been 'in care' (as they were known pre-Children Act 1989), life satisfaction in adult life, psychological problems at 16 and depression at 33.

In adult life, children who had been in care were less satisfied with their lives and were significantly more at risk of psychological problems at age 16 and depression at age 33. Despite this finding, three out of four children did not have psychological problems at 16, and four out of five did not have such problems at 33. Those who were satisfied with their lives were more likely to have qualifications, jobs and partners, but since life satisfaction can relate to out-of-home and out-of-work activities, this paper suggests that creating opportunities for young people to develop these outside interests as they grow up may increase their sense of self-worth and indirectly protect them from later mental health problems.

Keywords: EMOTIONAL WELL-BEING; LIFE SATISFACTION; LONGITUDINAL STUDIES; LOOKED AFTER CHILDREN; NCDS

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: December 1, 1999

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