Measure what you treasure Well-being and young people, how it can be measured and what the data tells us

From David Cameron to Ban Ki-moon, Dr Anthony Seldon to Professor Richard Layard, many agree that encouraging well-being is a priority. But what is its role in public policy, particularly with regards to young people? How can we measure progress on such a subjective issue? And what does data on well-being tell us about how girls and boys are faring?

This paper looks to answer some of these questions and shares new data, with the aim of bringing fresh insight into how to understand and measure the impact of interventions  designed to improve the well-being of children in the UK.

NPC’s data on the well-being of almost 7,000 11- to 16-year olds shows sharply falling levels of well-being among children during their teenage years.

Most strikingly of all, it reveals that girls’ well-being falls away badly, while boys’ remains relatively stable.

It is worrying, then, that much public policy seems to be moving in the opposite direction.

Practitioners in schools and charities, as well as policymakers, should take note of the differences between girls’ and boys’ well-being highlighted in this paper and support the tailoring of activities for the children who will benefit most.