Child Indicators Research

, Volume 8, Issue 1, pp 211–226 | Cite as

Subjective Well-Being Amongst a Sample of South African Children: A Descriptive Study

  • Shazly Savahl
  • Sabirah Adams
  • Serena Isaacs
  • Roseline September
  • Gaironeesa Hendricks
  • Zorina Noordien


In the current socio-political framework in South Africa children have been afforded the highest priority within government, affirming their legal status of right holders. Not only has the rights and needs of children been entrenched in the development strategies of the government, but children themselves have been guaranteed socio-economic rights and protection from abuse, exploitation, and neglect. Subsequently, knowledge and information on the well-being of children have become important pursuits. More specifically, current trends in international literature point to the critical importance of subjective perceptions of well-being in developing measuring and monitoring initiatives. The aim of the study was to determine the subjective well-being of children in the Western Cape region of South Africa. A cross-sectional survey design was employed with the use of stratified random sampling to select a sample of 1004 twelve year old children attending primary schools within the Western Cape Metropole. Descriptive statistics were used to present the findings across the different domains of well-being. The study forms part of the International Survey of Children’s Well-Being (Phase 1: Deep Pilot) and follows a cross-sectional survey design. The survey included a number of internationally validated scales. This paper reports on some of the findings of the Student Life Satisfaction Scale, the Personal Well-Being Index-School Children, and the single-item scale on Overall Life Satisfaction. The findings show that the composite scores for the three scales show a general trend towards high levels of subjective well-being; however, these scores are incongruent to objective indicators of well-being which point to a range of adverse childhood realities. Another key finding was the significant difference in the composite mean scores on the Student Life Satisfaction Scale of children from low and middle-income communities. Finally a significant difference was found between mean composite scores on the Student Life Satisfaction Scale (65.60) and the Personal Well-Being Index- School Children (81.90). The findings raise important considerations for the conceptualisation and measurement of child well-being in South Africa.


Subjective well-being Children South Africa 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Shazly Savahl
    • 1
  • Sabirah Adams
    • 1
  • Serena Isaacs
    • 1
  • Roseline September
    • 2
  • Gaironeesa Hendricks
    • 1
  • Zorina Noordien
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of the Western CapeBellvilleSouth Africa
  2. 2.University of the Western CapeBellvilleSouth Africa

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