Inequality, material well-being, and subjective well-being: exploring associations for children across 15 diverse countries

Gillian Main, Carme Montserrat, Jonathan Richard Bradshaw, sabine andresen, Bong Jo Lee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Children’s material well-being, and the levels of wealth and inequality in societies within which children live, are important factors in determining outcomes. However, less is known about the extent to which these factors have an impact children’s subjective well-being, especially in an internationally comparative context. This study draws on data from the Children’s Worlds survey, an international study of child subjective well-being, to explore links between national level indicators of wealth and inequality (GDP and Gini coefficients), individual indicators of material well-being (the material resources children report having access to), and subjective well-being. The survey covers 15 diverse countries covering the continents of Europe, Asia, Africa and South America, with samples of at least 3,000 per country, ages 8, 10 and 12. Analysis takes the form of a multilevel, varying intercepts and slopes model, examining the association between financial and material resources and inequality and subjective well-being across and between countries. Findings suggest that material resources that children report are significantly associated with subjective well-being, while indicators of financial resources and inequality at the national level are not. While a significant association between material resources and subjective well-being is found across the whole sample, the magnitude of this association, and the association between school- and country-level material resources, varies markedly. Within different countries, the strongest material resources-related predictor of overall subjective well-being may be either at the individual, school or country level.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3-13
Number of pages11
JournalChildren and Youth Services Review
Early online date17 Jun 2017
Publication statusPublished - 28 Feb 2019

Bibliographical note

© 2017, Elsevier. This is an author-produced version of the published paper. Uploaded in accordance with the publisher’s self-archiving policy.


  • Children
  • Inequality
  • Material well-being
  • Multilevel modelling
  • Subjective well-being

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