Eight-year-olds in England are less happy than those in Estonia, Poland and Turkey, a survey suggests, with body image and school identified as areas they are particularly troubled by.  The findings can be found in the full report Children’s views on their lives and well-being in 16 countries: A report on the Children’s Worlds survey of children aged eight years old, 2013-15

This major international study, which involved researchers from the University of York, has provided a fresh perspective on how children around the world feel about their lives.  The Children’s Worlds study, co-ordinated in England by the Social Policy Research Unit (SPRU) at York, asked children about all key aspects of their lives including their family and home life, friendships, money and possessions, school life, local area, time use, personal well-being, views on children’s rights, and their overall happiness.

Most children aged eight in all 16 countries were happy with their lives as a whole but a minority (around 6 per cent of children) had low well-being.  The percentage with low well-being varied from below 3 per cent in Colombia and Romania to over 9 per cent in Ethiopia, South Korea and England.

England ranks no higher than eighth out of 16 countries for any of the survey’s happiness measures.  However, the report identifies, in relative terms, the most positive and negative aspects of life within each country.  The three aspects with the most positive relative scores in England were happiness with people lived with (i.e. usually family), health and safety.

Simon Sommer, Head of Research at the Jacobs Foundation which funded the work, said:

“This project is groundbreaking. This report presents, for the first time, 8-year-old children’s own perspectives on their lives and well-being. The Jacobs Foundation continues to support “Children’s Worlds”, because we are convinced that it will deliver unique information valuable for everyone who is interested in understanding and improving the lives of children and youth.”