Millennium Cohort Study informs report showing children’s happiness at its lowest in a decade

30 August 2019

Millennium Cohort Study findings have provided evidence for The Children’s Society’s eighth annual Good Childhood Report, which examines the state of children’s wellbeing across the UK.

The latest report shows that with almost a quarter of a million children aged between 10 and 15 unsatisfied with their lives as a whole, levels of happiness are at their lowest since 2009.

To understand why children today are less likely to be happy, the report looked at information on various aspects of their lives, including school, friendships, family, poverty and physical appearance.

Using evidence from the Millennium Cohort Study, the report revealed that children who had lived in poverty, or in families under financial strain, at any time during their upbringing, were significantly more likely to have lower life satisfaction, and higher depressive symptoms at age 14.

The report, which drew on other sources of data as well as MCS, showed that children’s satisfaction with school and with their friendships were at their lowest levels since 2009. And, although girls have been less satisfied with their appearance than boys over the past decade, the findings showed the gap between them is now narrowing.

Mark Russell, Chief Executive at The Children’s Society, said: “Modern childhood is a happy and carefree time for most, yet for too many it is not. It is a national scandal that children’s unhappiness is increasing so quickly.

“Today’s young people are becoming progressively unhappy with their friendships – one of the fundamental building blocks of wellbeing – as well as appearance and school. Children are also burdened with fears ranging from worrying about the future, not having enough money to not feeling safe at school and bullying.

“We are urging the government to introduce a national measurement of children’s wellbeing so we can really listen, respond and show young people they matter. Together we can build a brighter future and bring optimism and confidence back to being young.”

Further information

Read the latest Good Childhood Report on The Children’s Society website.

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