2010 Child and Youth Well-Being Index

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Foundation for Child Development, Duke University

Children under 18 comprise the largest group of Americans in poverty, and overall conditions – including family life, economic status, and health – for U.S. children are likely to worsen this year, this study says.

Researchers measured progress in American life between 2000 and 2008 by using the Child and Youth Well-Being Index, which assesses seven quality-of-life domains in children: economic well-being, safe and risky behavior, social relationships, emotional well-being, community engagement, education, and health.

Over the span of the study, the American CWI increased by 5.45 percent. Positive changes were noted in the domains of safe and risky behavior, social relationships and community engagement. However, researchers say the high percentages by which these domains increased overshadowed the negative changes found in other categories, such as health and economic well-being, thus creating a misleading CWI.

Based on trends in the areas that showed decreases, researchers estimate that this year, the share of children living below the poverty line will climb to 21 percent, an increase of more than 3.3 million children since a recent low of 12.3 million in 2006 and the highest rate the United States has seen in 20 years. Factors include the impact of the recession on funding for school programs and instability in many parents’ careers.

Free, 29 pages. http://www.fcd-us.org/usr_doc/FINAL_2010_CWI_Annual_Release.pdf.