Child Indicators Research

, Volume 12, Issue 5, pp 1589–1610 | Cite as

Conceptualizing Child Well-Being in Nepal as Fluid Hierarchy of Multi-Dimensional Basic Needs

  • Suman Khadka


Critiquing the dominant notion of child well-being as an equally weighted multidimensional notion, the researcher uses critical research paradigm and the political economy approach offered by Welfare State regime (Esping-Anderson 1990) and Welfare Regime (Gough and Wood 2004) theories to guide conceptualization of child well-being in Nepal. The study is primarily a qualitative study, focusing on thematic analysis drawing from in-depth interviews with 72 children and caregivers in Nepal, complemented by quantitative analysis. The findings show that welfare in Nepal can be conceptualised from a multidimensional as well as from a hierarchical and an objective basic needs perspective. While all the identified dimensions were considered important, prioritizations, did occur, both in perception as well as lived experiences. But the hierarchy is fluid, with tradeoffs occurring depending on the context. Moreover, some dimensions (parents, financial, education) can be perceived as key determinants of child well-being due to their influential role in creating welfare outcomes. The findings show prioritization of socio-economic needs, which contradicts the guideline of progressive realization of such rights by the United Nations Child Rights Convention. The overall findings confirm the usefulness of the political economy frameworks to study child well-being. Based on the findings, the article concludes that child well-being in Nepal is in a fluid state where a child is constantly trading off current survival basic needs, particularly daily and curative health needs, with non-survival future need, particularly 'good' education, which are determined by the context, quality of parenting and access to financial resources.


Child well-being Hierarchy of child well-being Nepal UNCRC Welfare regime 



The author would like to thank her supervisors for their guidance during the research process.

Compliance with Ethical Standards


The research was undertaken before joining UNICEF, and does not reflect the organization


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature B.V. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Phnom PenhCambodia

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