Children’s well-being assesses the quality of children’s lives. Although the concept sounds quite simple and straightforward, there is no unique and universally accepted measure of children’s well-being in the academic literature. There are two broad approaches to defining and measuring children’s well-being, i.e. the objective and the subjective one. The former refers to the socio-economic objective realities (such as levels of poverty, health and safety etc.) that indirectly measure children’s quality of life, whereas subjective well-being derives from direct measures of individuals’ self-reports about happiness, satisfaction, and fulfillment. Whilst both objective and subjective measures are important in assessing children’s well-being, the latter becomes fundamental when adopting a child-centered approach. The main rationale of the paper is to present the main benefits and challenges of child-centered approaches to subjective well-being. It is advocated that attempts to understand children’s well-being should be grounded in their own experiences and perspectives, establishing what matters most in their lives. Hence, children’s involvement in different stages of the research process becomes inevitable. The paper critically evaluates the adult-centric approaches to children’s subjective well-being, as they are susceptible to overlook key areas of children’s values, views, and assessments of their life circumstances. Despite the major benefits of developing child-centered measures, there are important challenges primarily associated with methodological (e.g. developing indicators from qualitative data) and practical issues (e.g. age restrictions in children’s involvement in the research process). Given the global financial crisis that since 2008 has hit the world, leading to cuts in government expenditures and austerity measures, it is critically important to understand how the economic recession affects children’s well-being, and consequently, their future well-being as adults. Such an understanding can be enriched by approaches involving children’s insights, complementing the existing objective measures in order to adequately evaluate and determine preventive policy initiatives.
|Keywords:||Children, Subjective Well-being, Child-centered Approach, Mixed Methods, Recession|
Lecturer in Quantitative Methods in Sociology, Department of Sociology, Faculty of Social Sciences, University of Crete, Rethymno, Crete, Greece