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Exploring national variations in child subjective well-being

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JournalChildren and Youth Services Review
DateAccepted/In press - 27 Jun 2017
DateE-pub ahead of print - 2 Jul 2017
DatePublished (current) - 17 Sep 2017
Number of pages12
Pages (from-to)3-14
Early online date2/07/17
Original languageEnglish


This paper explores variation in national levels of subjective well-being (using mean SLSS scores) for children aged 10 and 12 participating in the Children’s Worlds Survey. We have found it difficult to explain much of the variation in subjective well-being using indicators of the economic, social, political or cultural characteristics of the country. This may be because of the limited number of countries and the fact that Romania is a high outlier and S. Korea a low outlier. However as with the World Happiness Report we did find an association between child SLSS scores and social support as reported by adults in the World Values Survey. Like the World Happiness Report for adults we also found some strong associations between child SLSS scores and other indicators in the Children’s Worlds Survey, particularly friendliness and choice about time use. We developed explanatory models of SLSS using the Good Childhood framework based on domain satisfaction questions which explained 57% of the variation in SLSS scores of the whole sample. In this model satisfaction with freedom was most salient and satisfaction with home and friends least important. However when the model was applied country by country the proportion of variance explained varied from 36% to 76% and the relative importance of the different explanatory factors also varied. It is probable that multi-level modelling will conclude that most variation in subjective well-being occurs, and can be explained best, at the national level.

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© 2017 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved. This is an author-produced version of the published paper. Uploaded in accordance with the publisher’s self-archiving policy. Further copying may not be permitted; contact the publisher for details

    Research areas

  • Child well-being, International comparisons, Subjective well-being

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