Priority Populations

How Are The Kids Doing? How Do We Know?


With a focus on the United States, this paper addresses the basic social indicators question: How are we doing? More specifically, with respect to children, how are our kids (including adolescents and youths) doing? These questions can be addressed by comparisons: 1) to past historical values, 2) to other contemporaneous units (e.g., comparisons among subpopulations, states, regions, countries), or 3) to goals or other externally established standards. The Child and Youth Well-Being Index (CWI), which we have developed over the past decade, uses all three of these points of comparison. The CWI is a composite index based on 28 social indicator time series of various aspects of the well-being of children and youth in American society that date back to 1975, which is used as a base year for measuring changes (improvements or deterioration) in subsequent years. The CWI is evidence-based not only in the sense that it uses time series of empirical data for its construction, but also because the 28 indicators are grouped into seven domains of well-being or areas of social life that have been found to define the conceptual space of the quality of life in numerous studies of subjective wellbeing. Findings from research using the CWI reported in the paper include: (1) trends in child and youth well-being in the United States over time, (2) international comparisons, and (3) best-practice analyses.

Read the report here.