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Child Well-Being in Advanced Economies in the Late 2000s


This paper aimed at comparing the well-being of children across the most economically advanced countries of the world while discussing the methodological issues involved in comparing children’s well-being across countries. A Child Well-being Index was constructed to rank countries according to their performance in advancing child well-being. The Index used 30 indicators combined into 13 components, again summarised in 5 dimensions for 29 rich countries. Data from various sources were combined to capture aspects of child well-being: material well-being, health, education, behaviour and risks, housing and environment. The scores for the countries on all variables and combinations of variables were discussed in detail. The Child Well-being Index revealed that the Netherlands and the Scandinavian countries (excluding Denmark) did relatively better than the other countries while Romania and the United States performed well below the average. Overall, serious differences existed in child well-being across countries suggesting that in many, improvement could be made in the quality of children’s lives.

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  1. According to the practice of Eurostat, the poverty gap is measured as the distance between the poverty line and the median income of the poor population, where the distance is expressed as a percentage of the value of the poverty line.

  2. In the Belgium case, the population in the Brussels-Capital Region is considered half Flemish and half French.

  3. This indicator measures the annual concentration of fine particulate matter, i.e. particles smaller than 10 microns.


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The authors are grateful to Peter Adamson and Dominic Richardson for their guidance and contributions.

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Correspondence to Bruno Martorano.



See Table 13.

Table 13 Data and sources for all dimensions—late 2000s

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Martorano, B., Natali, L., de Neubourg, C. et al. Child Well-Being in Advanced Economies in the Late 2000s. Soc Indic Res 118, 247–283 (2014).

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  • Child well-being
  • Child poverty
  • Health
  • Education
  • Risk behavior