The latest development in The Children's Society’s well-being research programme is our new index of subjective well-being for children aged eight and over. We wanted to develop an index of children’s well-being that is statistically robust and covers the main aspects of children’s lives, including those identified by children themselves.

The Good Childhood Index includes a five-item measure of life satisfaction, a single-item measure of happiness with life as a whole, and a series of questions about well-being in 10 key areas of children’s lives. Analysis of the 2008 survey yielded the discovery that these ten areas explained over half of the variation in overall well-being: 

  1. Family
  2. Friends
  3. Health
  4. Appearance
  5. Time use
  6. The future
  7. Home
  8. Money and possessions
  9. School
  10. Amount of choice.

The Good Childhood Index can be used in two broad ways.

1. Our short index

Our short index, which was launched in October 2010, has been designed to measure trends and variations in children’s subjective well-being at a population level. This index was tested with a representative sample of 8- to 15-year-olds in July and October 2010, and shows good stability and validity. We will use the index to monitor children and young people's well-being on an ongoing basis with a quarterly survey of 2,000 8- to 15-year-olds. 

There is also potential for the short index to be used to measure change in overall well-being for smaller samples of children and young people, for example, at the school or local authority level. We are currently piloting the index with schools and local authorities, if you’d like your organisation to join in these pilots please email

By conducting a local survey, we heard from more than 50 organisations and individuals around the UK who are interested in using the index to explore the well-being of the children and young people with whom they work.

2. Our longer index

Our longer index was completed in July 2011 and parts of it are already in use in our programmes. It is useful for organisations that would like to evaluate their work and measure change in the well-being of the children and young people with whom they work. Organisations may choose from a menu of multi-item measures for the 10 key areas mentioned above. If you would like to be one of the first to use our longer index, then please email