Child Indicators Research

, Volume 7, Issue 1, pp 119–140 | Cite as

Children’s Subjective Well-being: Socio-demographic Characteristics and Personality

  • Haridhan GoswamiEmail author


Over the past few decades, a large number of studies have been conducted to explain variations in subjective well-being (SWB). Most of these studies emphasised socio-demographic factors, which were consistently found to be able to explicate only a small amount of variation in well-being. To find a better explanation, researchers have recently focused on the personality of individuals. However, these studies are mainly based on adults. There is little evidence on how personality characteristics are related to children’s SWB. This study aims to fill this gap by bringing together socio-demographic characteristics and individual personality within a single framework to explain variation in children’s SWB. Data for this article were obtained from a national survey among 2,400 young people aged 10 to 15 from mainstream schools in England. A two-stage multiple regression analysis indicated that the socio-demographic characteristics in model 1 accounted for 15 % of the variation in SWB. Model 2, containing both socio-demographic and personality characteristics, explained 33.5 % of the variation, of which personality contributed to explaining additional 18.5 % variation. Overall the personality factor explained slightly more variation (3.5 %) in SWB compared to the socio-demographic characteristics. However, looking at the standardised regression coefficient value for each factor separately, it was observed that some socio-demographic factors (e.g., material deprivation, age) were more influential in children’s SWB than some personality domains such as openness, extraversion and conscientiousness. These findings are discussed in the context of previous empirical studies and theories on SWB. Suggestions for future research are also put forward.


Subjective well-being Children and young people Personality Socio-demographic characteristics Material deprivation 



This article is prepared from the Research Project on ‘Children’s Well‐being’ in which I was involved, whilst working as a Statistical Researcher in the Research Team of The Children’s Society. I am grateful to Gwyther Rees, Research Director of The Children’s Society for his encouragement to write on this aspect and his valuable comments on an earlier draft of this article. I would also like to thank Professor Jonathan Bradshaw for his important feedback at various stages of writing the article. I am indebted to Ben Fitton for editing and proof reading the paper. I would also like to thank the anonymous reviewers for their helpful comments and all young people and schools who agreed to participate in this study. An early version of this article was presented in the 3rd International Conference for the International Society for Child Indicators, University of York, York, UK, 27th – 29th July 2011.


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Policy Evaluation and Research Unit (PERU), Department of SociologyManchester Metropolitan UniversityManchesterUK

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