Measuring Trends in Child Well-Being and Child Suffering in the United States, 1975–2013

  • Kenneth C. LandEmail author
  • Vicki L. Lamb
  • Qiang Fu
Part of the Social Indicators Research Series book series (SINS, volume 60)


This chapter reviews the phenomenological/ethnographic positive well-being and quantitative positive psychology approaches to the conceptualization and measurement of child and youth well-being. It then describes how the Child and Youth Well-Being Index (CWI) has used the results of subjective well-being studies to inform the selection of time series of Key Indicators – demographic, social, and economic statistics – in the construction of the CWI. The CWI and its seven major components/domains of well-being have been calculated annually for the United States as a whole and used to monitor changes in the well-being of America’s children for the years 1975–2013. The Index also has also been calculated separately for U.S. children and youth classified by gender, race/ethnicity, the 50 U.S. states, and selected geographical sub-regions within the states. Empirical findings from the calculations of the national CWI are described. Reversing the spectrum of the well-being question that motivates the CWI “How are the kids doing?” leads to the question “Are the kids suffering?” The second part of this chapter describes recent work on the conceptualization, construction, and calculation of a Child and Youth Suffering Index (CSI) to measure trends in levels of suffering of America’s children and youth. The chapter finishes with a comparison of empirical findings from the CSI and CWI and how the two indices complement each other.


Children’s well-being Social indicators Objective social indicators Subjective well-being indicators Child and Youth Well-Being Index (CWI) Changes in child well-being over time Child Suffering Index (CSI) Comparing changes in child well-being and child suffering over time 


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Sociology and Center for Child and Family PolicyDuke UniversityDurhamUSA
  2. 2.Department of Human SciencesNorth Carolina Central UniversityDurhamUSA
  3. 3.Department of SociologyThe University of British ColumbiaVancouverCanada

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