A Framework for Child Well-Being in the Gulf Countries


This article provides a review of indicators of child well-being in the six Gulf countries (Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates), focusing on well-being in six domains: physical health, behavioral adjustment, psychological well-being, social relationships, safety, and cognitive well-being. The purpose of the review is to provide an overview of how children in the Gulf countries are faring in these six domains in an effort to provide a framework for child well-being in the Gulf countries. Data from the Gulf countries generally are available on the following domains of well-being: Physical health (including infant and under-5 mortality, growth and nutrition, and access to quality health care), some aspects of behavioral adjustment (in particular, smoking, alcohol, and drug use as well as adolescent pregnancy and HIV/AIDs), safety (in terms of laws, although data on the prevalence of abuse and neglect are limited), and cognitive development (including enrollment and performance in school and skills for a knowledge economy, with more limited data available on quality early child care and school readiness). The following domains of well-being have more limited available data in the Gulf countries: Behavioral adjustment (including social competence, prosocial behavior, and externalizing behavior problems), psychological well-being (including subjective well-being of children, mental health, and participation), and social relationships (including positive relationships with parents and other caregivers, peer relationships, and relationships with non-family adults).

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We gratefully acknowledge the support of Ms. Noor Al Malki Al Jehani, Executive Director of Doha International Family Institute (DIFI), a member of Qatar Foundation for Education, Science and Community Development and without whose support this research would not have been possible.

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Correspondence to Jennifer E. Lansford.

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Lansford, J.E., Ben Brik, A. & Al Fara, H. A Framework for Child Well-Being in the Gulf Countries. Child Ind Res 12, 1971–1987 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12187-019-9620-5

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  • Behavioral adjustment
  • Child well-being
  • Gulf countries
  • Physical health
  • Safety
  • Social relationships