Skip to main content
Open Access Publications from the University of California


UC San Francisco Previously Published Works bannerUCSF

The Child and Adolescent Thriving Index 1.0: Developing a Measure of the Outcome Indicators of Well-Being for Population Health Assessment

Published Web Location
No data is associated with this publication.
Creative Commons 'BY' version 4.0 license

The well-being of children and adolescents is emerging as an area of interest for population health measurement. Previous approaches assessing national and state trends in well-being have relied on composite indices. However, these methodologies suffer from several weaknesses. This paper develops an improved index for the United States that is measurable with existing population-data resources. It derives the appropriate weights for items in this index using a longitudinal panel of 2,942 children in the Panel Study of Income Dynamics. Candidate component measures are selected for the index based on their demonstrated association with several subjective scales assessed during young adulthood. The final index demonstrates that a broad range of measures indicate higher levels of population-level well-being. The predictive validity of the index for outcomes during young adulthood is also assessed: a one-standard-deviation increase in the index score is associated with a 7.9-percentage-point decrease [95% CI: 5.9 - 9.8] in ever reporting fair or poor health, a 6.3-percentage-point decrease [95% CI: 4.6 - 8.0] in ever reporting depression, and a 17.2% [95% CI: 13.7% - 20.5%] increase in peak earnings. These values for predictive validity are slightly higher than those of existing methodologies. We also find that incorporating contextual indicators from childhood and adolescence does not substantively improve predictive validity. Policy-makers and government agencies interested in population-level well-being of children and adolescents can continue to use existing indices as reasonable proxies, but should also commit to upgrading data systems to make them more child-centric in the future.

Supplementary information

The online version contains supplementary material available at 10.1007/s12187-022-09962-0.

Many UC-authored scholarly publications are freely available on this site because of the UC's open access policies. Let us know how this access is important for you.

Item not freely available? Link broken?
Report a problem accessing this item