How are the Kids Doing? How do We Know?: Recent Trends in Child and Youth Well-Being in the United States and Some International Comparisons


Journal Article

With a focus on the United States, this paper addresses the basic social indicators question: How are we doing? More specifically, with respect to children, how are our kids (including adolescents and youths) doing? These questions can be addressed by comparisons: (1) to past historical values, (2) to other contemporaneous units (e. g., comparisons among subpopulations, states, regions, countries), or (3) to goals or other externally established standards. The Child and Youth Well-Being Index (CWI), which we have developed over the past decade, uses all three of these points of comparison. The CWI is a composite index based on 28 social indicator time series of various aspects of the well-being of children and youth in American society that date back to 1975, which is used as a base year for measuring changes (improvements or deterioration) in subsequent years. The CWI is evidence-based not only in the sense that it uses time series of empirical data for its construction, but also because the 28 indicators are grouped into seven domains of well-being or areas of social life that have been found to define the conceptual space of the quality of life in numerous studies of subjective well-being. Findings from research using the CWI reported in the paper include: (1) trends in child and youth well-being in the United States over time, (2) international comparisons, and (3) best-practice analyses. © 2010 Springer Science+Business Media B.V.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Land, KC; Lamb, VL; Zheng, H

Published Date

  • January 1, 2011

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 100 / 3

Start / End Page

  • 463 - 477

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0303-8300

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1007/s11205-010-9624-5

Citation Source

  • Scopus