Social Indicators Research

, Volume 107, Issue 3, pp 575–588 | Cite as

Social Relationships and Children’s Subjective Well-Being

  • Haridhan GoswamiEmail author


The quality of relationships is now recognised as an important aspect of children’s subjective well-being. This article focuses on both positive and negative quality of relationships. It includes six areas of children’s relationships—family, neighbourhood adults, positive affect friendship, negative affect friendship, experiences of being bullied by other young people, and being treated unfairly by adults and analyses their association with children’s subjective well-being. Data for this study were obtained from a national survey among 4,673 children in secondary schools across England. Children’s relationships with their family, friends (positive affect) and neighbourhood adults appear to increase their well-being, whereas, negative aspects of friendship relations, experiences of being bullied and treated unfairly by adults is proved to decrease young people’s well-being. Relationships with family, positive relations with friends and experience of being bullied appear to have respectively the first, second and third highest effect on children’s subjective well-being. Although the influence was low, children’s relationships with neighbourhood adults, their experiences of being treated unfairly by adults and their negative relations with friends contributed significantly to explaining variations of their subjective well-being. These findings are discussed in the context of previous empirical studies and theories on social relationships and subjective well-being. Suggestions for future research are also put forward.


Subjective well-being Quality of relationships Bullying Family Friendship Children and young people 



I would like to thank all the young people and schools who agreed to participate in this study. I also thank the anonymous referee for helpful comments and suggestions. I am grateful to Debbie Bowness for her proof reading and Myfanwy Franks for her useful comments on earlier version of the paper. The views presented in the paper are the author’s and do not necessarily reflect those of the Children’s Society.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Research TeamThe Children’s SocietyLeedsUK

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