Priority Populations

Child Well-Being Index (CWI) 2008 Report

Annual Release - July 22, 2008

The 2008 annual release of the Foundation for Child Development’s Child Well-Being Index (CWI) finds that after an upward trend for eight years, 1994 through 2002, progress in American children’s quality of life has now moved into a stall/slow growth period.

The economic recession and slow growth of 2001-2002 negatively impacted several indicators in the Family Economic Well-Being component of the CWI (such as the poverty rate).  The macroeconomic problems of 2007 and 2008 (housing finance crisis, rising inflation, gasoline, energy cost, and food) are likely to have similar negative impacts on several indicators and domains of well-being.

If this current period of economic duress is sufficiently deep and long, it will impact public finances such as publicly financed childcare, health, and education programs.

The CWI is a composite measure that makes it possible to analyze national trends in overall child well-being over time.  It is based on 28 indicators in seven key areas of well-being beginning in 1975.

Special Focus Report Intergenerational Comparisons of Adolescent Well-Being - Baby Boomer Parents Compared to Their Echo Boomer Children

A number of key indicators included in the CWI are measures of well-being in the second decade of life and adolescence. Since the base year of the CWI is 1975, the well-being of adolescents in the early 2000s (echo boomers) can be compared to that of their parents’ generation (late baby boomers).

The intergenerational comparisons show that Echo Boomer adolescents were:

  • slightly more likely to live in families below the poverty line
  • producing test scores on reading and mathematics that are only slightly higher than those of their parents
  • at much lower risk of death from accidents, violence, or disease
  • substantially more likely to be overweight or obese, with associated health problems or risks
  • much less likely to participate in risky behavior (bear children, be victims of violent crime or violent crime offenders, smoke cigarettes, binge drink, or consume illicit drugs).

View the video of the July 22, 2008 Annual Release Event at the New America Foundation.