Child Indicators Research

, Volume 12, Issue 1, pp 353–378 | Cite as

Social Ecological Measures of Interpersonal Destructiveness Impacting Child Subjective Mental Well-Being: Perceptions of 12-Year-Old Children in 14 Countries

  • Oliver NahkurEmail author
  • Dagmar Kutsar


The aim of this paper is to explore multilevel risk factors that impact child mental well-being in social ecological theoretical framework. We set the following research questions: (1) How are individual characteristics, their immediate environmental settings, and larger social and cultural contexts (multilevel risk factors) related to children’s subjective mental well-being; and (2) How do the impacts of multilevel risk factors of children’s subjective mental well-being vary across countries? We apply the conceptual scheme of the Societal Index of Interpersonal Destructiveness (SIID) by Nahkur et al. (Social Indicators Research, 133(2), 431–454, 2017) - inspired by social ecological framework to operationalise the research problem. Primarily, data are drawn from International Survey of Children’s Well-being (the sample of 12 year old children in 14 countries from 2013/14), and (multilevel) regression analyses are used. We found that interpersonal destructiveness measures, such as low life satisfaction, prior experience with destructive interpersonal conflict and subjective economic insecurity as individual factors, and poor parenting, poor relationship climate, fragile community as immediate environmental factors affect children’s subjective mental well-being negatively, even after controlling for the larger social and cultural context factors. As a main finding these associations were universal across the observed countries, however, with subjective economic insecurity as a notable exception. The influence of societal factors on children’s mental well-being stayed unclear as we used adult-driven data that cannot represent children’s opinions. In sum, children’s assessments reflect their direct and indirect interactions with different levels of social ecological environmental settings that are merged in their opinions at the individual level.


Subjective well-being Child subjective mental well-being Societal Index of Interpersonal Destructiveness (SIID) Child social indicators 



Special thanks to Rein Murakas and Rein Taagepera who critically reviewed the manuscript and made useful comments. Article was written by Oliver Nahkur with the financial support from NORFACE Welfare State Futures Programme (Project HEALTHDOX 462-13-011) and the University of Tartu ASTRA Project PER ASPERA (European Regional Development Fund) and by Dagmar Kutsar with the financial support from Estonian Research Council personal research grant PUT 1530.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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© Springer Science+Business Media B.V., part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute of Social StudiesUniversity of TartuTartuEstonia

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