How does children’s well-being vary with age?
We have now completed four waves of our quarterly well-being survey using The Good Childhood Index. Over 8,000 children aged 8 to 15 have so far participated in this survey. This large sample means that we are able to analyse differences in well-being amongst different sub-groups.
Here we look at age-related differences in overall well-being and in particular aspects of life.
Children’s average overall well-being falls quite considerably between the ages of 8 and 15 (see Figure 1). The average eight-year-old scores around 15 out of 20 on our life satisfaction scale, while the average 15-year-old only scores just above 13 out of 20. Well-being falls by about 2% per year over this age range.
Figure 1: Average Life satisfaction by age
A strong age pattern can also be seen from looking at the proportion of children of different ages who have low well-being. For the whole sample this proportion is around 9.5%. However amongst 14- and 15-year-olds, around 15% of young people, or one in seven, have low well-being (see Figure 2).
Figure 2: Percentage of children with low well-being by age
This fall in well-being as children get older is also a pattern that has been seen in some other countries. So far, it is not clear what causes this pattern. However, the other questions in The Good Childhood Index offer some further insights into age differences in children’s well-being.
Our index shows that there are much stronger age patterns for some aspects of life than for others. Figure 3 shows the percentage drop in well-being between the ages of 8 and 15 for the ten index items. The largest drops are for school and appearance where average well-being at the age of 15 is over 15% lower than at the age of 8. This is a drop of over 2% each year. The differences in well-being for friends and home are much smaller with drops of less than 1% per year.
Figure 3: Links between age and different aspects of well-being
The size of these differences is illustrated in Figure 4.
Figure 4: Differences in well-being between 8-year-olds and 15-year-olds
The Good Childhood Index can be used to explore in a similar way to explore differences in well-being between any groups of children.
The Index is freely available to use. If you would be interested in using the Index, or in receiving more information, please contact email@example.com.