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Understanding children’s well-being: A national survey of young people’s well-being 27 January 2010.

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Presentation on theme: "Understanding children’s well-being: A national survey of young people’s well-being 27 January 2010."— Presentation transcript:

1 Understanding children’s well-being: A national survey of young people’s well-being 27 January 2010

2 Bob Reitemeier Chief Executive The Children’s Society

3 Gwyther Rees The Children’s Society Jonathan Bradshaw University of York

4 Well-being: overview

5 The State of Britain’s Children  The evidence base is improving Every Child Matters indicators Opportunity for All Equality and Human Rights Commission indicators for children and young people Surveys: Tellus, BHPS, FACS, MCS, etc International sources: HBSC, PISA, EU SILC  Arguably subjective well-being the least developed domain  Attempt to fill the gap

6 British Household Panel Survey – 11-15 year olds

7 Well-being and life satisfaction

8 Why well-being matters  Promotion (and distribution) of well-being can be seen as a fundamental goal of any society  UN CRC “the primary consideration in all actions concerning children must be in their best interest and their views must be taken into account”  Well-being has been shown to vary between nations and over time. Need to understand why.  Subjective well-being can be an important indicator of underlying issues

9 The research programme

10 Aims  Understand the concept of well-being taking full account of young people’s perspectives  To establish self-report measures and use these to  Identify the reasons for variations in well-being  Monitor changes in well-being over time

11 Survey development  2005 survey – 11,000 young people  Development of framework  Identification and testing of questions  2008 survey (administered by Ipsos MORI)

12 Survey overview  Random sample of mainstream primary and secondary schools in England  Covers Years 6, 8 and 10 (10- to 15-year-olds)  One class randomly selected in each school  Total sample of just under 7,000 – over 2,000 in each of the three age groups

13 Survey content  Secondary questionnaire - about 140 items  Primary questionnaire – about 100 items Four broad areas:  Measures of overall well-being  Single measures for 21 aspects of well-being (e.g. family, local area)  More detailed questions on particular aspects of subjective and psychological well-being  Demographics and socio-economic

14 Overall subjective well-being

15 Overall well-being Distinction between:  Happiness Happiness with life as a whole  Life satisfaction (more of a cognitive assessment) Cantril’s ladder Huebner’s life satisfaction scale (7 items)

16 Overall well-being Composite measure  Most young people happy and satisfied  But around 7% of young people relatively unhappy

17 Variations in well-being What factors can explain variations in overall well-being?

18 Individual characteristics Factors considered:  Age**  Gender**  Disability**  Religious affiliation*  Ethnicity*  Country of birth  Low explanatory power (3%-4%). Age most significant factor

19 Age and gender variations

20 Family factors Factors considered:  Poverty**  Family structure*  Number of siblings  Very low explanatory power (1% to 2.5%)  But, query re: poverty measures

21 Sub-groups

22 Cumulative effects Factors considered: disability, poverty, change in family structure

23 Other explanations for variations Role of environmental factors. Three examples:  Change in family structure  Experiences of being bullied  Quality of family relationships

24 Change in family structure  10% of secondary school sample had experienced a change in the adults they lived with over the last year  Significant link with overall well-being (average score 6.8 compared to 7.7 for whole sample)  Reduced significance of variations in well-being across different family structures

25 Being bullied

26 Family relationships ‘My family gets along well together’

27 Summary Explaining variations in well-being:  Individual and family factors explain relatively little  Poverty – needs further exploration  Recent life events may play a more significant role – stronger focus in future research  Other environmental factors such as quality of relationships show stronger associations

28 Components of well-being Understanding Children’s Well-Being

29 Competing theories Different explanations:  ‘Bottom-up’ approach (situational) Demographics, socio-economic, life events Domains >> overall well-being  ‘Top-down’ approach (personality) Temperament, instrumental Overall well-being >> domains  Potential value of both approaches

30 21 aspects  Survey included single questions (on a scale from 0 to 10 of happiness with 21 different aspects of young people’s lives)  Derived from: Cummins - Australia Casas – Spain Young people’s ideas from 2005 survey

31 Aspects (1) How happy are you...Mean % unhappy about the home you live in8.74.9% with your friends8.64.6% with your family8.65.7% about the groups of people you belong to8.25.1% about getting on with the people you know8.24.9% about how you enjoy yourself8.25.2% about the things you have8.15.7%

32 Aspects (2) How happy are you...Mean % unhappy with your health8.07.7% about doing things away from your home8.07.2% with the things you want to be good at7.87.5% about communicating with people7.87.6% about the amount of freedom you have7.810.5% about how safe you feel7.68.6% about the amount of choice you have in life7.610.6% about how you spend your time7.68.9%

33 Aspects (3) How happy are you...Mean % unhappy about what may happen to you later on in your life 7.410.4% about the school that you go to7.313.2% with your local area7.213.8% with your confidence7.016.0% about your school work6.911.9% with your appearance6.817.5%

34 Age variations

35 Gender variations

36 Unhappiness with appearance

37 Associations with overall well-being Top seven aspects:  Family  Amount of choice  Material possessions  Expectations of the future  Home environment  Leisure  Freedom

38 Cummins Personal well-being index: Standard of living Future security Relationships Health Safety Achievements in life Community connectedness Explains 47% variation in overall subjective well-being

39 Huebner Brief multi-dimensional student life satisfaction scale: Family Living environment Friends Self School Created measures to approximate to items 2 and 4 Explains 50% variation in overall subjective well-being

40 Alternative model Based on 2005 survey: Family Amount of choice Material possessions Safety Health School work Leisure Friends Local area Explains 54% variation in overall subjective well-being

41 Change in family structure - associations

42 Summary  Substantial variations in well-being re: different aspects  Importance of family, freedom/choice, expectations of the future, home and possessions  Concepts of well-being may vary according to age – both in comparison with adults and between different age groups

43 Next steps

44 Why well-being matters  The concept of well-being provides a means of understanding what is important for young people’s lives. It is a means of ensuring that young people’s views are heard.  2008 survey establishes a base line for future exploration  Well-being research can have important practical applications in terms of informing how to improve young people’s lives

45 Next steps  Four further publications over the next year on specific aspects of well-being  Application of well-being indicators within The Children’s Society to measure impact  Next wave of the survey in 2010 - first step in beginning to identify trends in young people’s well- being in England over time. To include Better measures of family economic factors Personality Wider range of life events

46 Questions

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