Global Health and social care

Improving life chances: Case studies and resources for local government


Photo: Shutterstock

Curated case studies and news from around the globe highlighting some of the innovative ways municipalities are improving life prospects, health outcomes, and life expectancy, plus the best and most practical reports on the topic. Examples this week come from Mexico, the UK, and the U.S.

Have your own example to share, get in touch!

Policy innovation and inspiration examples from the local government sector

Mexico: Helping the “Peatoniños” reclaim the streets
Peatoniños (child pedestrians) is a project launched by Mexico’s City’s Laboratorio para la Ciudad (Lab for the City) and UCLA designed to address the lack of/uneven distribution of play spaces across the capital. Based on the motto of “liberating the streets for children and play”, the project sets out to evaluate, design and implement playstreets in areas of the city with high levels of inequality and marginalisation, large child populations, and few open place spaces. Ultimately, these playstreets are hoped to improve health and socialising opportunities and outcomes for CDMX’s children.

England: Birmingham’s Social and Emotional Mental Health Pathfinder
A multi-agency, collaborative approach to working with children and families with multiple complex needs, the Birmingham SEMH Pathfinder sets out to improve life outcomes for the city’s youth. There are more children experiencing poverty in Birmingham than anywhere else in the country. To address this, the SEMH Pathfinder offers relational support based on social justice, empathy and shared authority. Dozens of schools have since become “Pathfinder schools”, each with a core multi-agency team and 8 full-time workers to support pupils and families across a range of needs and issues, including employment, mental health, substance misuse, and domestic violence.
A New Direction

USA: Improving health and wellbeing for various groups in Austin
With non-communicable diseases accounting for 71% of all deaths worldwide, unhealthy lifestyle choices are increasingly under the microscope when planning to improve wellbeing, life prospects and life expectancy. In 2020, the City of Austin partnered with the WEF to launch three wellbeing-centric programmes to improve local health outcomes. Firstly, the city’s neediest received a free box of organic vegetables each week, using surplus supplies of vegetables to reduce local waste. Second, the city provided health worker home visits for three weeks after the birth of a child to ensure a healthy start in life for each newborn. Lastly, the city launched a digital learning platform to retrain members of the community and help them find their best career match.

Scotland: Glasgow implements revolutionary early years programme
Glasgow City Council
has adopted the widely successful Think Equal programme, a revolutionary early-years educational scheme designed to support the social and emotional development wellbeing of children. The city’s initial rollout of the scheme will see half of all local nursery schools benefit, equating to around 3,000 three to six-year-olds supported in the first year. Think Equal sets out to improve critical thinking, self-esteem, relationship skills and empathy among children, helping them deal with the challenges of later life and reducing the risk of older harmful behaviour. It has been implemented across 30 countries and supported more than 390,000 children.
Public Sector Executive


Resources on life expectancy and life chances

Old file folders books

Report: The impact of inequalities in the early years on outcomes over the life course
Drawing upon symposium research, this report explores the long-term effects of childhood inequalities on various aspects of life, such as education, crime, and well-being. International academics and policymakers discuss the impact of early inequalities on life outcomes.

Report: Make It Local: Improving life chances for all children
This LGA briefing examines how local government is central to delivering better life chances for children in the UK. Ahead of the 2024 General Election, it calls for improvements to the current support and services available to children and families, including powers to effectively lead local SEND systems.

Report: Healthy people, prosperous lives
In the face of economic challenges, the UK is experiencing declining health and wealth. Despite significant improvements in life expectancy during the 20th century, the country now contends with increasing mortality rates, long-term health conditions, and multimorbidity. While good health is obviously valuable, this paper explores its connection to prosperity. Not only is good health essential for a fulfilling life, but it also significantly impacts economic prospects at both individual and national levels. However, policymakers have largely overlooked this connection. In response, this paper aims to quantify the potential economic benefits of improved health and suggests policies that could integrate its value into decision-making processes. 

Resource: What is happening to life expectancy in England?
Detailing life expectancy at birth up to 2022, this Kings Fund article covers the impact of Covid-19, gender’s impact on life expectancy inequalities, causes of changing trends since 2011, and how the UK’s life expectancy compares internationally.

Report: Impact of regional differences in residential environment on healthy life expectancy in 1,300 Japanese municipalities
This research into regional living environments in Japan explores the relationship between healthy life expectancy and the level of modern housing developed in a municipality.

Article: Why are Americans dying so young?
The Financial Times presents shocking statistics on the alarming freefall of US life expectancy, most notably that one in 25 American five-year-olds today will not make it to their 40th birthday.

Looking for even more on this topic? Make sure you subscribe to LGIU to never miss out on this essential service for the local government sector everywhere.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *