Understanding and Measuring Child Well-Being in the Region of Attica, Greece: Round One


This paper aims to establish new, multi-dimensional indicators of child well-being suitable to urban regions such as Attica, Greece, and adjusted to the new form of child poverty that has become apparent during its recent financial crisis. The paper mainly argues that child well-being is a multi-dimensional phenomenon and that the financial crisis produced a specific need for new scientific tools adapted to the particular features that emerged under this circumstance. Within this context, definitions of child well-being and child poverty were developed. With these definitions as foundation, a tool comprising many indicators was formulated to record child well-being; this was applied in Attica through questionnaires addressing 27 public schools and three support centers of the organization, The Smile of the Child, covering two periods: the school years between 2010 and 2018 collectively and the school year 2018–2019 individually. The total number of children in the sample was 878, belonging to three distinct school categories. The results were mapped out in seven clusters. The theoretical and methodological framework of the study was confirmed through a Principal Component Analysis (PCA). The results reveal that child well-being improved in the period 2018–2019 while there were evident concerns regarding unemployment and whether the education individuals receive is relevant to what kind of people they ought to be. Finally, an action plan focusing on these dimensions and some of the clusters along with an auxiliary tool for decision-making founded on fuzzy logic have been suggested.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

Fig. 1
Fig. 2
Fig. 3
Fig. 4
Fig. 5


  1. Anderson, R., & Unzicker, K. (2014). Social cohesion and well-being in the EU. Dublin: Eurofound/Bertelsmann Stiftung, Gütersloh, Dublin.

    Google Scholar 

  2. Aristotle. (1926). The "Art"of Rhetoric (J.H. Freese, Trans.).Cambride: Loeb Classical Library, Harvard University Press.

  3. Aristotle. (1932). Politics (H. Rackham, Trans.).Cambride: Loeb Classical Library, Harvard University Press.

  4. Aristotle.(1934). Nicomachean Ethics (H. Rackham, Trans.).Cambride: Loeb Classical Library, Harvard University Press.

  5. Aristotle.(1952). The Athenian constitution, the Eudemian Ethics, On Virtues and Vices (H. Rackham, Revised Trans.). Cambride: Loeb Classical Library, Harvard University Press.

  6. Boudouris, Κ. (1995). Aristotle’s political philosophy (in Greek). Athens: International Association of Greek Philosophy.

    Google Scholar 

  7. Bougiokos, G., & Fasoulis, V. (2012). The situation of children in Greece (in Greek). Hellenic National Committee, UNICEF, Athens.

  8. Bougiokos, G., & Fasoulis, V. (2013). The situation of children in Greece (in Greek). Hellenic National Committee, UNICEF, Athens.

  9. Bougiokos, G., & Fasoulis, V. (2014). The situation of children in Greece (in Greek). Hellenic National Committee, UNICEF, Athens.

  10. Bougiokos, G., & Fasoulis, V. (2015). The situation of children in Greece (in Greek). Hellenic National Committee, UNICEF, Athens.

  11. Bradshaw, J., Hoelscher, P., & Richardson, D. (2007). An index of child well-being in the European Union. Social Indicators Research, 80(1), 133–177.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  12. Casas, F., Bello, A., González, M., & Aligué, M. (2013). Children’s subjective well-being measured using a composite index: What impacts Spanish first-year secondary education students’ subjective well-being? Child Indicators Research, 6(3), 433–460. https://doi.org/10.1007/s12187-013-9182-x.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  13. Cheung, K. C. K., Chan, W. S., & Chou, K. L. (2019). Material deprivation and working poor in Hong Kong. Social Indicators Research, 145(1), 39–66. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11205-019-02093-0.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  14. Chzhen, Y., & de Neubourg, C. (2014). Multiple overlapping deprivation analysis for the European Union (EU-MODA) (no. WP-2014-01). Florence: UN. Doi:https://doi.org/10.18356/355832ee-en.

  15. Chzhen, Y., de Neubourg, C., Plavgo, I., & de Milliano, M. (2016). Child poverty in the European Union: The multiple overlapping deprivation analysis approach (EU-MODA). Child Indicators Research, 9(2), 335–356. https://doi.org/10.1007/s12187-015-9321-7.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  16. Corak, M. (2006). Principles and practicalities for measuring child poverty. International Social Security Review, 59(2), 3–35. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1468-246X.2006.00237.x.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  17. Dhéret, C. (2015). Fostering social cohesion: The missing link in the EU’s exit strategy from the crisis. Belgium: Brussels.

    Google Scholar 

  18. Dinisman, T., Montserrat, C., & Casas, F. (2012). The subjective well-being of Spanish adolescents: Variations according to different living arrangements. Children and Youth Services Review, 34(12), 2374–2380. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.childyouth.2012.09.005.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  19. Drakopoulos, S. A. (1989). The historical perspective of the problem of interpersonal comparisons of utility. Journal of Economic Studies, 16(4), 35–51.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  20. Edgeworth, F. Y. (1881). Mathematical physics. London: Kegan Paul & Co..

    Google Scholar 

  21. Eurostat (2017). Final energy consumption in the residential sector by fuel – EU28. https://ec.europa.eu/eurostat/statisticsexplained/index.php?title=File:Final_energy_consumption_in_the_residential_sector_by_fuel,_EU-28,_2017_.png

  22. Eurostat Glossary (n.d.). At risk of poverty rate. Statistics explained. https://ec.europa.eu/eurostat/statistics-explained/index.php/Glossary:At-risk-of-poverty_rate

  23. Guhn, M., Schonert-Reichl, K. A., Gadermann, A. M., Marriott, D., Pedrini, L., Hymel, S., & Hertzman, C. (2012). Well-being in middle childhood: An assets-based population-level research-to-action project. Child Indicators Research, 5(2), 393–418. https://doi.org/10.1007/s12187-012-9136-8.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  24. Huebner, E. S., & Furlong, M. (2016). Measuring students’ well-being. In S. M. Suldo (Ed.), Promoting student happiness: Positive psychology interventions in schools. New York: Guilford Publications.

    Google Scholar 

  25. Jensen, L. A. (2015). Moral development in a global world. (L. a. Jensen, Ed.). Cambridge: Cambridge University press. doi:https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9781139583787.

  26. Keynes, J. M. (1932). Economic possibilities for our grandchildren. Essays in persuasion. New York: Harcourt, Brace & Co.

  27. Kollias, A. Anastasopoulou, A. Mpithimitris, G. Papadopoulos, O. (2018). A spatial analysis of unemployed youth’s vocational profiles in Attica, Greece. In 11th International Conference of the Hellenic Geographical Society (ICHGS). Lavrion.

  28. Kuran, T. (1987). Human desire and economic satisfaction: Essays on the frontiers of economics by Tibor Scitovsky. Journal of Economic Literature, 25(4), 1852–1854. http://www.jstor.org/stable/2726448.

  29. Leriou, E. (2015). Comparison of the neoclassical School of Welfare and the School of new Welfare Economics. Archives of Economic History, 27(2), 37–46. ISSN 1108-7005.

  30. Leriou, E. (2016). Analysis of the factors that determine social welfare by implementing an integrated decision-making framework. Panteion University. https://hdl.handle.net/10442/hedi/39270.

  31. Leriou, E. (2019). The child poverty factor as a constraint in a model of overall welfare: The case of Greece. Social Cohesion and Development, 14(1), 21–31. ISSN 1790-9368.

  32. Lianos, T. (2010). Aristotle’s macroeconomic model of the city-state. Balfoussias S., Essays in economics: Applied studies on the Greek economy, 675–687.

  33. Little, I. M. D. (1949). The foundations of welfare economics. Oxford Economic Papers, 1(2), 227–246.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  34. Little, I. M. D. (1950). A critique of welfare economics. Oxford: Clarendon Press.

    Google Scholar 

  35. Llosada-Gistau, J., Montserrat, C., & Casas, F. (2015). The subjective well-being of adolescents in residential care compared to that of the general population. Children and Youth Services Review, 52, 150–157. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.childyouth.2014.11.007.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  36. Lovat, T., & Hawkes, N. (2013). Values education: A pedagogical imperative for student wellbeing. Educational Research International, 2(2), 1–6.

    Google Scholar 

  37. Lovat, T., Toomey, R., & Clement, N. (2010). International research handbook on values education and student wellbeing. Dordrecht: Springer.

  38. McCloskey, D. N. (1983). The rhetoric of economics. Journal of Economic Literature, 21(2), 481–517.

  39. McCloskey, D. N. (2010). Bourgeois dignity: Why economics can’t explain the modern world. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

  40. Michalos, A. C., Smale, B., Labonté, R., Muharjarine, N., Scott, K., Moore, K., Swystun, L., Holden, B., Bernardin, H., Dunning, B., Graham, P., Guhn, M., Gadermann, A.M., Zumbo, B.D., Morgan, A., Brooker, A.-S., & Hyman, I. (2011). The Canadian index of wellbeing: Technical report 1.0. Waterloo, ON: Canadian Index of Wellbeing and University of Waterloo.

  41. Michalos, A. C. (2015). Ancient views on the quality of life. Cham: Springer International Publishing. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-16525-7.

  42. Michalos, A. C., Creech, H., Swayze, N., Maurine Kahlke, P., Buckler, C., & Rempel, K. (2012). Measuring knowledge, attitudes and behaviours concerning sustainable development among tenth grade students in Manitoba. Social Indicators Research, 106(2), 213–238. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11205-011-9809-6.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  43. Michalos, A. C., & Land, K. C. (2018). Replies to our commentators. Social Indicators Research, 135(3), 1057–1078.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  44. Mincer, J. (1974). Schooling, experience, and earnings. Human Behavior & Social Institutions, 2.

  45. Ministry of Education (2019, April 1). Basic information on school units. [csv file]. Retrieved from http://www.data.gov.gr/dataset/basika-stoixeia-sxolikwn-monadwn-2018

  46. Mitrakos, T. (2008). Child poverty: Recent developments and determinants. Economic Bulletin, 30, 57–85.

    Google Scholar 

  47. Montserrat, C., Casas, F., & Moura, J. F. (2015a). Children’s subjective well-being in disadvantaged situations. In Theoretical and empirical insights into child and family poverty (pp. 111–126). Springer. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-17506-5_7.

  48. Montserrat, C., Dinisman, T., Bălţătescu, S., Grigoraş, B. A., & Casas, F. (2015b). The effect of critical changes and gender on adolescents’ subjective well-being: Comparisons across 8 countries. Child Indicators Research, 8(1), 111–131. https://doi.org/10.1007/s12187-014-9288-9.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  49. Nikolaou, A. (2008). Dimensions of child poverty in Athens: Theoretical approaches, empirical research and methodological issues. Social and spatial transformations in Athens of 21st century (in Greek). Studies – Surveys, National Centre for social research, Athens.

  50. OECD. (2000). Building public trust: Ethics measures in OECD countries. PUMA Policy Brief. Paris. http://www.oecd.org/mena/governance/35527481.pdf

  51. OECD. (2019a). OECD future of education and kkills 2030: Conceptual learning framework. OECD learning compass 2030 concept notes. Paris Cedex 16. www.oecd.org/education/2030-project

  52. OECD. (2019b). Changing the odds for vulnerable children: Building opportunities and resilience. Paris: OECD Publishing. https://doi.org/10.1787/a2e8796c-en.

    Book  Google Scholar 

  53. Papaioannou, D. (2010). Environment policies and management (in Greek). Research Institute of Urban Environment and Human Resources-Panteion University Athens.

  54. Papanastatiou, S., Ntafouli, M., & Kourtidou, D. (2016). The situation of children in Greece. Hellenic National Committee, UNICEF, Athens: Children at risk.

    Google Scholar 

  55. Pigou, A. C. (1920). The economics of welfare. London: McMillan and Co..

    Google Scholar 

  56. Plato. (1925). The Statesman, Philebus, Ion (H. N. Fowler & W. R. M. Lamb, Trans.). Cambridge: Loeb Classical Library, Harvard University Press.

  57. Plato. (1926). Laws Books VII-XII (R.G. Bury, Trans.). Cambrigde: Loeb Classical Library, Harvard University Press.

  58. Savahl, S., Casas, F., & Adams, S. (2017). Children’s subjective well-being: Multi-group analysis among a sample of children from two socio-economic status groups in the Western cape, South Africa. Child Indicators Research, 10(2), 473–488. https://doi.org/10.1007/s12187-016-9392-0.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  59. Schonert-Reichl, K. A., Guhn, M., Gadermann, A. M., Hymel, S., Sweiss, L., & Hertzman, C. (2013). Development and validation of the middle years development instrument (MDI): Assessing children’s well-being and assets across multiple contexts. Social Indicators Research, 114(2), 345–369. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11205-012-0149-y.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  60. Schonert-Reichl, K. A., Rowcliffe, P., Jaramillo, A., Foulkes, K., Thomson, K., & Goessling, K. (2011). Middle childhood inside and out: The psychological and social worlds of Canadian children ages 9–12 full report. Vancouver.

  61. Scitovsky, T. (1941). A note on welfare propositions in economics. The Review of Economic Studies, 9(1), 77–88.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  62. Scitovsky, T. (1951). The state of welfare economics. The American Economic Review, 41(3), 303–315.

    Google Scholar 

  63. Sen, A. (1987). On ethics and economics. Oxford: Basil Blackwell.

    Google Scholar 

  64. Skidelsky, R. (2010). Keynes: The return of the master. PublicAffairs.

  65. Smetana, J. G. (2006). Social-cognitive domain theory: Consistencies and variations in children’s moral and social judgments. In M. Killen & J. G. Smetana (Eds.), Handbook of moral development (pp. 119–153). East Sussex: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates Publishers.

    Google Scholar 

  66. Smith, A. (1759). The theory of moral sentiments. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

    Book  Google Scholar 

  67. Tasopoulos, A., & Leriou, E. (2014). A new multidimensional model of ethics educational impact on welfare. Journal of Neural Parallel and Scientific Computations, 22(4), 595–608 ISSN 1061-5369.

    Google Scholar 

  68. Viñas, F., Casas, F., Abreu, D. P., Alcantara, S. C., & Montserrat, C. (2019). Social disadvantage, subjective well-being and coping strategies in childhood: The case of northeastern Brazil. Children and Youth Services Review, 97, 14–21. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.childyouth.2017.06.012.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  69. Welzel, C. (2013). Freedom rising: Human empowerment and the quest for emancipation. New York: Cambridge University Press.

    Book  Google Scholar 

  70. Zolotas, Ε. X. (1982). Financial growth and deteriorating social welfare (in Greek) (no. 47). Athens.

Download references


This paper was drawn up within the context of the research project “C.W. – SMILE.” This project received funding from the Hellenic Foundation for Research and Innovation (HFRI) and the General Secretariat for Research and Technology (GSRT) under grant agreement No. 1926.

Author information



Corresponding author

Correspondence to Eirini Leriou.

Additional information

Publisher’s Note

Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.


Appendix 1


The questionnaires begin with a definition of general well-being (additional information is given on its components, i.e., economic and non-economic well-being), in order for the students to understand what they are asked to respond to. Furthermore, instructions are provided on how to answer in order to avoid mistakes (e.g., put a tick mark [✓] in the box of the answer you believe applies to you), along with information on anonymity and confidentiality. In other words, the students were informed that the questionnaire is designed to safeguard their personal data, which will be rendered anonymous and inaccessible to third parties, pursuant to the national and European regulatory framework in force (95/46/ΕC General Regulation on Personal Data Protection, Article 89). Last but not least, it was made clear that filling in the questionnaire was not compulsory but voluntary and that the students could withdraw from the procedure at any given moment they decided to – prior to, during, or even after answering. The questions were divided into two parts, one related to the school years 2010–2018 and one to the current school year, 2018–2019.

Table 5 Questions about the current school year, 2018–2019, in the elementary school questionnaire
Table 6 Questions about the school years 2010–2018 in the elementary school questionnaire
Table 7 Questions about the school years 2010–2018 in the junior high/high school questionnaire
Table 8 Questions about the current school year, 2018–2019, in the junior high/high school questionnaire
Table 9 Simple Indicators and their corresponding questions in the questionnaires

Rating of Questions

Each answer in the questionnaires (Tables 5 to 8) was rated as 0 or 1 and, more rarely, using a unified scale of 0 to 1, where 1 corresponds to pleasure, i.e., well-being, and 0 to pain, i.e., deprivation. Further, each question also included the options “I can’t remember,” “I don’t know,” and “I don’t want to answer”; these options were considered off-scale items and were not exclusive. More specifically, somebody may not want to answer because they don’t know or can’t remember, or someone who can’t remember might not know the answer or might know the answer but not remember. Also, if someone does not remember, they might not want to answer. Therefore, in the statistical analysis, these questions were considered as missing data.

In addition, the scaling of the questions on the heating method (Tables 5 to 8) was carried out with a range of 0 to 1, according to the Eurostat (2017) statistic, that most people living in urban areas use radiators (central heating). Specifically, most of the energy consumed is produced by gas (36%), electricity (31.9%), renewable sources/waste products (17.5%), oil/petroleum products (11.2%), and solid fuels (3.3%). Since the majority uses and, therefore, prefers gas (most of the radiators are fueled by gas), radiators are considered the best method in the questions on heating and were rated 1. Electricity comes second and since the questionnaires included two methods powered by electricity, namely air conditioning and the electric heater, the first was rated with 0.86 and the latter with 0.72 (air conditioning is considered a safer heating method than the electric heater and even more efficient in some cases; it is also more costly, rendering it an indication of financial status). Heating by use of renewable sources/waste products was rated with 0.57. Subsequently, the remaining methods (fireplace, petrol-burning stove, and wood-burning stove) were rated considering the degree of safety, in accordance with Eurostat, but also by keeping in mind that fireplaces are found in more luxurious households. On these grounds, the fireplace was rated 0.43, the petrol-burning stove 0.29, and the wood-burning stove 0.14. The answers “no heating” and “brazier” were rated with 0. This question investigates whether unsafe and inexpensive heating methods that can put children’s lives at risk were used. The value of 1 was awarded to the best method and 0 to the worst, i.e., “no heating” and “brazier,” since both bring about the same consequences to a child’s health. The probable answers to choose from had equal numerical distances between them (0.14285714); this value was obtained by considering the various choices offered in the questionnaires (radiators, air conditioning, electric heater, other heating method, fireplace, petrol-burning stove, wood-burning stove, and no heating/brazier). Moreover, although this question gave the children the option to choose more than one answer, the best method’s value, i.e., the highest value, was taken into account to rate two or more heating methods. For instance, when a household uses radiators (the most expensive method) in combination with a petrol-burning stove, the family comes across as being in a better financial state than one that uses only a petrol-burning stove, underlining that they cannot afford heating only by radiators. However, when the brazier is among their choices, the value of the worst method was assumed, i.e., 0 (since the brazier is rated with 0) because when a family is forced to use a brazier, which is considered a last resort, their reasons are assumed to be grave, such as their having serious financial problems, despite the fact that they possibly try to warm their house with other additional methods.

In question 19 of the junior high/high school current year questionnaire and 1 of the elementary school current year questionnaire, the children could choose between “Yes,” rated 1, “Yes, but I do not,” rated 0.5, and “No,” rated 0 (Tables 5 and 8). In Question 1 from the junior high/high school 2010–2018 questionnaire, the choices were rated with equal distances between them. More specifically, “Extremely” was rated 1, “A lot” was 0.8, “Moderately” was 0.6, “A little” was 0.4, “Almost never” was 0.2, and “Never” was 0. Question 20 had four categories of answers which were also rated with equal distances. In other words, “Three and more” (considered the best) was rated 1, “Twice a week” was 0.66, “Once a week” was 0.33, and “Νever” was 0. The students could choose between “Yes” and “No” in questions 21–23, 28–30, 32–34, and 36–38 of the junior high/high school current year questionnaire (Table 8); in questions 2–3, 8–10, 12–14 and 16–18 of the junior high/high school 2010–2018 questionnaire (Table 7); in questions 3–10, 12–14, and 16–18 of the elementary school current year questionnaire (Table 5) and 19, 21, and 22 of the elementary school 2010–2018 questionnaire (Table 6). Questions 24–27 of the junior high/high school current year questionnaire and 4–7 of the junior high/high school 2010–2018 questionnaire were measured on a Likert scale from 1 to 10 for those who answered positively (Tables 7 and 8). The answer of 1 was rated 0.1, 2 was rated 0.2, 3 was rated 0.3, 4 was rated 0.4, 5 was rated 0.5, 6 was rated 0.6, 7 was rated 0.7, 8 was rated 0.8, 9 was rated 0.9, and 10 was rated 1. Elementary school children (Table 5) answered the relevant questions, 6–8, in their questionnaire with “Yes” or “No” since it would have been difficult for them to perceive a scale of 1 to 10. In questions 35 of the junior high/high school current year questionnaire, 15 of the junior high/high school 2010–2018 questionnaire, and 15 of the elementary school current year questionnaire, the students were presented with the options related to whether one or both of their guardians were employed (Tables 5, 7, and 8). For unemployment, the answer was rated 0. If they answered that one guardian was employed, it was rated 0.5. If the response was that both guardians were employed, it was rated 1.

Appendix 2

Table 10 Cluster means in the variables used for clustering
Fig. 6

The municipality clusters

Table 11 The socio-economic profile of children’s answers for the period 2018–2019 (n = 878)
Table 12 The socio-economic profile of children’s answers for the period 2010–2018 (n = 878)a
Table 13 Percentage of all children and of elementary, junior high and high school children above or below the threshold of being at risk of lacking general, economic, and non-economic well-being (2010–2018)
Table 14 Deviations between the two periods
Table 15 The 24 fuzzy inference rules

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Leriou, E., Kazani, A., Kollias, A. et al. Understanding and Measuring Child Well-Being in the Region of Attica, Greece: Round One. Child Ind Res 14, 1–51 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12187-020-09770-4

Download citation


  • Child well-being
  • Welfare economics
  • Sustainable development
  • Indicators
  • Public policy
  • Fuzzy logic
  • Action plan
  • Decision making
  • Plato’s Philebus
  • Aristotle
  • Attica