Skip to main content
Past Event

Measuring Child Well-Being: A New Index

This report was presented as part of a Brookings forum on the well-being of American children, in cooperation with the Foundation for Child Development and Duke University.

The Brookings Institution, in cooperation with the Foundation for Child Development and Duke University, released a new index on the well-being of American children. Based on nearly thirty years of data from national surveys of seven “domains” of child well-being—defined by factors including mortality, poverty, and suicide rates; drug use; educational test scores; health insurance coverage; and crimes committed by children—the index contains valuable information on how children are faring now and how their status has changed in recent years.

Overall, the study found that:

  • Children’s well-being has improved five percent over the past quarter century;
  • Some domains of well-being, such as child safety and material well-being, have improved dramatically, but other domains, such as living with a single parent and child health, have declined;
  • Child obesity has skyrocketed and now poses a major threat to children’s health, one of the study’s most troubling conclusions;
  • The 1980s were a dangerous time for children, during which their well-being declined substantially, due in part in to changes in the structure of the economy and the American family.



The Index and Changes in Child Well-Being, 1975-2003

The Index and Its Policy Implications

Don Winstead

Principal and Founder - Don Winstead Consulting, LLC


Ruth Zambrana

Professor of Women's Studies and Director of Research at the Consortium on Race, Gender, and Ethnicity at the University of Maryland, College Park

More Information

To subscribe or manage your subscriptions to our top event topic lists, please visit our event topics page.

Get a weekly events calendar from Brookings