Recent Trends in the Overall Child and Youth Well-Being Index

| June 8, 2010

How will the economic recession impact the well-being of children and youths in the U.S.?

The 2010 annual release of the Child Well-Being Index (CWI) by the Foundation for Child Development is the first report offering comprehensive data on the impact of the Great Recession on American children’s quality-of-life. The CWI is an evidence-based measure of 28 key national indicators clustered in seven quality-of-life domains beginning with a base year of 1975. Data sources include the U.S. Census, Centers for Disease Control, National Center for Education Statistics and other vital statistics and sample surveys.

Specifically, the CWI indicates that the rate of children living in poverty in 2010 will be the highest it has been in 20 years. Almost 22 percent of American youth will be living below the poverty line this year, the highest among America’s peer nations. Although a number of economists speculate that the economy is slowly recovering, the CWI shows that a lag time typically occurs between when a recession first hits and its subsequent impact. Because of this lag, conditions for children will deteriorate over six of the CWI’s seven quality-of-life domains and reach their lowest points this year.

Highlights of the findings include:

* The recession will wipe out virtually all progress for children since 1975, in the Family Economic Well-being Domain.
* Risky behaviors will increase in 2010.
* Child obesity will continue to rise, bringing down the Health Domain.
*A decrease in community engagement.
* An increase in the number of detached youth. The decline in community engagement also means a substantial increase in the rate of youth ages 16-19 who are ‘detached’ from key mainstream institutions, because they will not be in school nor have a job. This will be particularly true for African American and Latino young men.

The full report can be viewed here.