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Rich Child, Poor Child: How Global Trends Affect Childhood

Rich Child, Poor Child
Reported by
Kathleen McGowan

Posted August 11, 2006

Presented By


American and European developmental psychology textbooks don't tell us very much about how children live across the world. Even simple questions are not addressed: How many children are there? Where do they live? How many go to school?

In a lecture delivered on May 1, 2006 and sponsored by the Academy's Psychology Section and cosponsored by the Anthropology Section, Uwe Gielen, founder of the Institute for International and Cross-Cultural Psychology at St. Francis College, asked that we begin thinking about these simple questions, recognize the large gaps in information, and start to broaden the horizons of psychology by expanding its relatively parochial focus on first-world countries.

In his talk, Gielen took a materialist approach to understanding child development: his aim was to explore the actual conditions of children's lives rather than to generate or apply a theory of developmental psychology. As a result, his presentation included approaches common to fields such as sociology or anthropology.

Web Sites

Center for Cross-Cultural Research
Features an online textbook of readings in psychology and culture.

Human Development Report: International Cooperation at a Crossroads: Aid, Trade and Security in an Unequal World
Provides a rank order of the world's nations on a "human development" index, which takes into account sociological factors such as children's mortality rates, the role of women, and so forth. At the United Nations Development Programme website.

Institute for International and Cross-Cultural Psychology
Uwe Gielen's institute works to foster the internationalization of the science of psychology by promoting cross-cultural awareness and contacts with other interested psychological organizations in the United States and abroad.

The International Association of Cross-Cultural Psychology
This global organization promotes connections and conversations between psychologists around the world, particularly research at the frontier of culture and psychology. Includes the Cross-Cultural Psychology Bulletin.

Psychology International
Published by the American Psychological Association, this newsletter covers news and developments in international psychology.

The State of The World's Children, 2006
UNICEF Annual report that includes comprehensive statistical data on children around the world.

The World's Youth 2006 Data Sheet
A profile of the world's youth, organized by region and by nation. Population Reference Bureau.


Adler, L. L. & U. P. Gielen, Eds. 2001. Cross-Cultural Topics in Psychology. (2nd ed.) Praeger, Westport, CT.

Adler, L. L. & U. P. Gielen, Eds. 2003. Migration: Immigration and Emigration in International Perspective. Greenwood Press, Westport, CT.

Arnett, J. J. 2007. Adolescence and Emerging Adulthood: A Cultural Approach. (3rd ed.) Prentice Hall, Saddle River, NJ.

Arnett, J. J. Forthcoming in October 2006. International Encyclopedia of Adolescence: A Historical and Cultural Survey of Young People Around the World. Routledge, New York.

Gielen, U. P. & J. Roopnarine, Eds. 2004. Childhood and Adolescence: Cross-Cultural Perspectives and Applications. Greenwood Press/Ablex, Westport, CT.

Stevens, M. J. & U. P. Gielen, Eds. Forthcoming in August 2006. Toward a Global Psychology: Theory, Research, Intervention, and Pedagogy. Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Mahwah, NJ.

Roopnarine, J. & U. P. Gielen, Eds. 2005. Families in Global Perspective. Allyn & Bacon, Boston.

Stevens, M.J. and D. Wedding, Eds. 2004. Handbook of International Psychology. Brunner-Routledge, New York.

Journal Articles

Comunian A. L. & U. P. Gielen. 2006. Promotion of moral judgment maturity through stimulation of social role-taking and social reflection: an Italian intervention study. J. Moral Educ. 35: 51-69.

Gibbons, J. L. & U. P. Gielen, Eds. 2000. Special issue: adolescence in international and cross-cultural perspective. Int. J. Group Tensions 29: 1-2.

Naito, T., W.-Y. Lin, & U.P. Gielen. 2001. Moral development in East Asian societies: a selective review of the cross-cultural literature. Psychologia 44: 148-160.


Uwe P. Gielen, PhD

email | web site | publications

Uwe P. Gielen is professor in the department of psychology at St. Francis College in Brooklyn. His research interests include cross-cultural psychology and moral development, and his work has particularly focused on traditional Tibetan culture, especially in Ladakh in northwestern India. One of his aims has been to introduce a broader, more global perspective to psychology.

Before joining St. Francis in 1987, he was an assistant professor of psychology at York College of the City University of New York. He has taught as a visiting professor or "foreign expert" at Shanghai Normal University, China, Padua University, Italy, Montfort College, India and Fordham University, New York City. Gielen recently served as editor of the International Journal of Group Tensions and is also editor for a book series in cross-cultural psychology that is being published by Lawrence Erlbaum Associates beginning in 2006. In 1998, he founded the Institute of International and Cross-Cultural Psychology, which encourages a global perspective in psychology and promotes student involvement in transnational research. Most recently, the institute sponsored a study of moral reasoning and bullying among students in Italy, Kuwait, and Japan.

Gielen received his master's degree in psychology from Wake Forest University, and a PhD in social psychology from Harvard University. He has served as president of the International Council of Psychologists and the Society for Cross-Cultural Research. In 2002, he was awarded St. Francis College's Franciscan Spirit award for public service. In 2005, he received the Distinguished International Psychologist Award from the International Psychology Division of the American Psychological Association.

Kathleen McGowan

Kathleen McGowan is a freelance magazine writer specializing in science and medicine.