Social Indicators Research

, Volume 61, Issue 1, pp 59–78 | Cite as

Child Well-being: A Systematic Review of the Literature

  • Elizabeth L. Pollard
  • Patrice D. Lee


A systematic review the child well-beingliterature in English was conducted withsearches in five databases to assess thecurrent state of child well-being research andanswer the following questions: (1) How is childwell-being defined? (2) What are the domains ofchild well-being? (3) What are the indicators ofchild well-being? and (4) How is childwell-being measured? This review updates andexpands a previous review of the childwell-being literature spanning 1974–1992. Results indicate that well-being is a commonlyused but inconsistently defined term frequentlyincluded in the study of child development. There are five distinct domains of childwell-being: physical, psychological, cognitive,social, and economic. Positive indicators areused more often in the physical, cognitive,social, and economic domains, while morenegative or deficit indicators are used in thepsychological domain. There is littleagreement in the research literature on how tobest measure child well-being.


Systematic Review Child Development Research Literature Previous Review Distinct Domain 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Ajdukovic, M. and D. Ajdukovic: 1993, 'Psychological well-being of refugee children', Child Abuse and Neglect: The International Journal 17(6), pp. 843-854.Google Scholar
  2. Andrews, F. M. and S. B. Withey: 1976, Social Indicators of Well-Being: Americans' Perceptions of Life Quality (Plenum Press, New York, NY).Google Scholar
  3. Bradburn, N. B.: 1969, The Structure of Psychological Well-being (Aldine Press, Chicago, IL).Google Scholar
  4. Columbo, S. A.: 1986, 'General well-being in adolescents: its nature and measurement' (Doctoral dissertation, Saint Louis University, 1984), Dissertation Abstracts International 46, 2246B.Google Scholar
  5. Crumbaugh, J. C.: 1968, 'Cross-validation of Purpose-In-Life Test based on Frankl's Concepts', Journal of Individual Psychology 24(1), pp. 74-81.Google Scholar
  6. Evans, G.W., S. J. Lepore, B. R. Shejwal and M. N. Palsane: 1998, 'Chronic residential crowding and children's well-being: an ecological perspective', Child Development 69(6), pp. 1514-1523.Google Scholar
  7. Harter, S.: 1982, 'The perceived competence scale for children', Child Development 49, pp. 788-799.Google Scholar
  8. Househnecht, S. K. and J. Sastry: 1996, 'Family life satisfaction, age, length of residency: predicting alcohol and cigarette use among Korean adolescents in Australia', Psychological Reports 78, pp. 187-193.Google Scholar
  9. Huebner, E. S.: 1994, 'Preliminary development and validation of a Multidimensional Life Satisfaction Scale for Children', Psychological Assessment 6(2), pp. 149-158.Google Scholar
  10. Keith, K. D. and R. L. Schalock: 1994, 'The measurement of quality of life in adolescence: the Quality of Student Life Questionnaire', American Journal of Family Therapy 22(1), pp. 83-87.Google Scholar
  11. Kovacs, M.: 1981, 'Rating scales to assess depression in school-aged children', Acta Paedopsychiatrica 46(5-sup-6), pp. 305-315.Google Scholar
  12. Martinez, R. O. and R. L. Dukes: 1997, 'The effects of ethnic identity, ethnicity, and gender on adolescent well-being', Journal of Youth and Adolescence 26(5), pp. 503-516.Google Scholar
  13. McCormick, M. C., K. Workman-Daniels and J. Brooks-Gunn: 1996, 'The behavioral and emotional well-being of school-age children with different birth weights', Pediatrics 97(1), pp. 18-25.Google Scholar
  14. McFarlane, A. H., A. Bellisimo and G. R. Norman: 1995, 'Family structure, family functioning and adolescent well-being: the transcendent influence of parental style', Journal of Child Psychology & Psychiatry & Allied Disciplines 36(5), pp. 847-864.Google Scholar
  15. Newborg, S., G. Wnek and Svinicki: 1988, Battelle Developmental Inventory Screening Test (Riverside Publishing Company, Chicago, IL).Google Scholar
  16. Olson, D. H., J. Portner and Y. Lavee: 1985, Family Adaptability and Cohesion Evaluation Scales (Life Innovations, Roseville, MN).Google Scholar
  17. Rosenberg, M.: 1965, Society and the Adolescent Self-Image (Princeton University Press, Princeton, NJ).Google Scholar
  18. Schor, E. L.: 1995, 'Developing communality: Family-centered programs to improve children's health and well-being', Bulletin of the New York Academy of Medicine 72(2), pp. 413-442.Google Scholar
  19. Speilberger, C. D., R. L. Gorsuch, R. Lushene, P. R. Vagg and G. A. Jacobs: 1983, State-Trait Anxiety Inventory (Consulting Psychologists Press, Palo Alto, CA).Google Scholar
  20. Thorndike and Hagen: 1986, Cognitive Abilities Test (Riverside Publishing Company, Chicago, IL).Google Scholar
  21. Toles, M., S. Marks, B. Fallon and D. Offord: 1993, A Literature Review of Child Well-Being: Concepts, Measurements and Determinants. Unpublished manuscript.Google Scholar
  22. Weisner, T. S.: 1988, Fall, 'Human development, child well-being, and the cultural project of development [Review]', New Directions for Child Development (81), pp. 69-85.Google Scholar
  23. Yarcheski, A., M. A. Scoloveno and N. E. Mahon: 1994, 'Social support and well-being in adolescents: the mediating role of hopefulness', Nursing Research 43(5), pp. 288-292.Google Scholar
  24. Zigmond A. S. and R. P. Snaith: 1983, 'The hospital anxiety and depression scale', Acta Psychiatrica Scandinavica 67, pp. 361-370.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  • Elizabeth L. Pollard
    • 1
  • Patrice D. Lee
    • 1
  1. 1.Center for Child Well-being, A program of the Task Force for Child Survival and DevelopmentEmory UniversityUSA

Personalised recommendations