- June 2004
- Vol. 5, No. 5
Child Well-Being Shows Slight Improvement
The overall quality of life for America's children has improved slightly since 1975, according to a report released by Duke University and the Brookings Institution. Children have experienced significant improvements during the past three decades in material well-being, safety and behavioral concerns, and participation in school or work. This is balanced by little change in educational attainment, and a decline from the 1975 baseline levels in other areas such as health.
Each year, the Foundation for Child Development Index of Child Well-Being (CWI) Project at Duke University examines trends in American children's quality of life in seven domains:
- Material well-being (e.g., poverty, family income)
- Health (e.g., infant mortality, rate of overweight children)
- Safety/behavioral (e.g., teen birth rate, rate of violent crime offenders)
- Educational attainments (e.g., reading and math test scores)
- Participation in school or work (e.g., rate of persons with high school diploma, rate of preschool enrollment)
- Social relationships (e.g., rate of children in single parent homes)
- Emotional/spiritual well-being (e.g., suicide rate, rate of weekly religious attendance).
These domains are measured by 28 key indicators. The composite index, an average of the seven domains, gives a sense of the overall direction of change in children's well-being relative to the base year of 1975. Some key trends noted in the report include:
- Improvements in the safety/behavioral domain are largely due to decreases in the rate of children and youth who are serious criminal offenders and victims of violent crime.
- Decline in the health domain is linked to the large increase in the number of children in this country who are obese.
- Although reading and math scores have not changed significantly, other related indicators have improved, such as the number of 3- and 4-year-olds enrolled in preschool.
A copy of the report, The Foundation for Child Development Index of Child Well-Being 1975 - 2002, with Projections for 2003, is available from the Brookings Institution's website at www.brookings.edu/comm/events/20040324index.pdf.
Additional information on the CWI is available from the Duke University website at www.soc.duke.edu/~cwi/.