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

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Publication details

JournalChildren and Youth Services Review
DateAccepted/In press - 16 Jun 2017
DateE-pub ahead of print - 17 Jun 2017
DatePublished (current) - 28 Feb 2019
Number of pages11
Pages (from-to)3-13
Early online date17/06/17
Original languageEnglish


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.

Bibliographical note

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

    Research areas

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

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