Social Indicators Research

, Volume 107, Issue 3, pp 393–410 | Cite as

Resilience and Well-being Among Urban Ethiopian Children: What Role Do Social Resources and Competencies Play?

  • Laura CamfieldEmail author


Many researchers working with children in materially poor communities in Ethiopia have observed that they report high levels of well-being, for example, they are happy and satisfied with their lives. This is taken as an example of resilience, or what may be defined as the capacity to bounce back from adverse experiences. While many Euro-American studies attribute resilience to individual competencies such as self-confidence, in the context of Ethiopia and other developing countries social competencies may be more important. Social competencies enable children to construct networks that extend beyond peer friendships and school-based networks. Their extensive networks mean they can access resources and convert these into well-being outcomes such as being well-nourished. However, their networks can be simultaneously advantageous and disadvantageous; for example, when children feel obliged to leave school to contribute to the household. The paper presents a mixed-method case-based analysis of four children aged 14–15 living in urban Ethiopia who were characterised by the author as more or less ‘resilient’ on the basis of survey data from Young Lives, a long-term study of childhood poverty. It uses survey and qualitative data to present a detailed account of these children’s pathways to well-being and the complex role of social connections within these pathways.


Ethiopia Resilience Children Social capital Mixed methods Case study 



The author thanks Young Lives participants and researchers, and Virginia Morrow who commented on an earlier draft. Young Lives is funded by the UK Department for International Development (DFID) and based on a collaborative partnership between the University of Oxford, Save the Children UK, The Open University, UK, and a series of prominent national research and policy institutes in the four study countries.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Development StudiesUniversity of East AngliaNorwichUK

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