Toward a Theory of Child Well-Being

Ramesh Raghavan, Anna Alexandrova

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    Abstract

    Assuring the well-being of children has emerged over the past several decades as an important goal for health and social policymakers. Although the concept of child well-being has been operationalized and measured in different ways by different child-serving entities, there are few unifying theories that could undergird and inform these various conceptual and measurement efforts. In this paper, we attempt to construct a theory of child well-being. We first review the social and policy history of the concept of child well-being, and briefly review its measurement based on these conceptualizations. We then examine three types of theories of well-being extant in philosophy—mental states theories, desire-based theories and needs-based theories—and investigate their suitability to serve as prototypes of a theory of child well-being. We develop a constraint that child well-being is important in and of itself and not merely as a way station to future adult well-being (we call this a non-reduction constraint). Using this constraint, we identify the limitations of each of the three sets of theories to serve as a basis for a theory of child well-being. Based on a developmentalist approach, we then articulate a theory of child well-being that contains two conditions. First, a child’s stage-appropriate capacities that equip her for successful adulthood, given her environment; and, second, an engagement with the world in child-appropriate ways. We conclude by reviewing seven implications of this theoretical approach for the measurement of child well-being.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)887-902
    Number of pages16
    JournalSocial Indicators Research
    Volume121
    Issue number3
    DOIs
    StatePublished - Jan 1 2015

    Fingerprint

    child well-being
    Child Welfare
    well-being
    Well-being
    Public Policy
    adulthood
    Health

    Keywords

    • Child development
    • Child well-being
    • Philosophy
    • Social policy

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Developmental and Educational Psychology
    • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
    • Sociology and Political Science
    • Social Sciences(all)

    Cite this

    Toward a Theory of Child Well-Being. / Raghavan, Ramesh; Alexandrova, Anna.

    In: Social Indicators Research, Vol. 121, No. 3, 01.01.2015, p. 887-902.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    Raghavan, R & Alexandrova, A 2015, 'Toward a Theory of Child Well-Being', Social Indicators Research, vol. 121, no. 3, pp. 887-902. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11205-014-0665-z
    Raghavan, Ramesh ; Alexandrova, Anna. / Toward a Theory of Child Well-Being. In: Social Indicators Research. 2015 ; Vol. 121, No. 3. pp. 887-902.
    @article{07a2ceb1f2094302a4aa0fd37356df81,
    title = "Toward a Theory of Child Well-Being",
    abstract = "Assuring the well-being of children has emerged over the past several decades as an important goal for health and social policymakers. Although the concept of child well-being has been operationalized and measured in different ways by different child-serving entities, there are few unifying theories that could undergird and inform these various conceptual and measurement efforts. In this paper, we attempt to construct a theory of child well-being. We first review the social and policy history of the concept of child well-being, and briefly review its measurement based on these conceptualizations. We then examine three types of theories of well-being extant in philosophy—mental states theories, desire-based theories and needs-based theories—and investigate their suitability to serve as prototypes of a theory of child well-being. We develop a constraint that child well-being is important in and of itself and not merely as a way station to future adult well-being (we call this a non-reduction constraint). Using this constraint, we identify the limitations of each of the three sets of theories to serve as a basis for a theory of child well-being. Based on a developmentalist approach, we then articulate a theory of child well-being that contains two conditions. First, a child’s stage-appropriate capacities that equip her for successful adulthood, given her environment; and, second, an engagement with the world in child-appropriate ways. We conclude by reviewing seven implications of this theoretical approach for the measurement of child well-being.",
    keywords = "Child development, Child well-being, Philosophy, Social policy",
    author = "Ramesh Raghavan and Anna Alexandrova",
    year = "2015",
    month = "1",
    day = "1",
    doi = "10.1007/s11205-014-0665-z",
    language = "English (US)",
    volume = "121",
    pages = "887--902",
    journal = "Social Indicators Research",
    issn = "0303-8300",
    publisher = "Springer Netherlands",
    number = "3",

    }

    TY - JOUR

    T1 - Toward a Theory of Child Well-Being

    AU - Raghavan, Ramesh

    AU - Alexandrova, Anna

    PY - 2015/1/1

    Y1 - 2015/1/1

    N2 - Assuring the well-being of children has emerged over the past several decades as an important goal for health and social policymakers. Although the concept of child well-being has been operationalized and measured in different ways by different child-serving entities, there are few unifying theories that could undergird and inform these various conceptual and measurement efforts. In this paper, we attempt to construct a theory of child well-being. We first review the social and policy history of the concept of child well-being, and briefly review its measurement based on these conceptualizations. We then examine three types of theories of well-being extant in philosophy—mental states theories, desire-based theories and needs-based theories—and investigate their suitability to serve as prototypes of a theory of child well-being. We develop a constraint that child well-being is important in and of itself and not merely as a way station to future adult well-being (we call this a non-reduction constraint). Using this constraint, we identify the limitations of each of the three sets of theories to serve as a basis for a theory of child well-being. Based on a developmentalist approach, we then articulate a theory of child well-being that contains two conditions. First, a child’s stage-appropriate capacities that equip her for successful adulthood, given her environment; and, second, an engagement with the world in child-appropriate ways. We conclude by reviewing seven implications of this theoretical approach for the measurement of child well-being.

    AB - Assuring the well-being of children has emerged over the past several decades as an important goal for health and social policymakers. Although the concept of child well-being has been operationalized and measured in different ways by different child-serving entities, there are few unifying theories that could undergird and inform these various conceptual and measurement efforts. In this paper, we attempt to construct a theory of child well-being. We first review the social and policy history of the concept of child well-being, and briefly review its measurement based on these conceptualizations. We then examine three types of theories of well-being extant in philosophy—mental states theories, desire-based theories and needs-based theories—and investigate their suitability to serve as prototypes of a theory of child well-being. We develop a constraint that child well-being is important in and of itself and not merely as a way station to future adult well-being (we call this a non-reduction constraint). Using this constraint, we identify the limitations of each of the three sets of theories to serve as a basis for a theory of child well-being. Based on a developmentalist approach, we then articulate a theory of child well-being that contains two conditions. First, a child’s stage-appropriate capacities that equip her for successful adulthood, given her environment; and, second, an engagement with the world in child-appropriate ways. We conclude by reviewing seven implications of this theoretical approach for the measurement of child well-being.

    KW - Child development

    KW - Child well-being

    KW - Philosophy

    KW - Social policy

    UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/record.url?scp=84939888232&partnerID=8YFLogxK

    UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/citedby.url?scp=84939888232&partnerID=8YFLogxK

    U2 - 10.1007/s11205-014-0665-z

    DO - 10.1007/s11205-014-0665-z

    M3 - Article

    AN - SCOPUS:84939888232

    VL - 121

    SP - 887

    EP - 902

    JO - Social Indicators Research

    JF - Social Indicators Research

    SN - 0303-8300

    IS - 3

    ER -