Well-being measures the quality of lives. However, as simple as the concept sounds, there is no universally accepted method of measuring well-being1. The two broad approaches to defining and measuring well-being are:

  1. To consider well-being as a multi-dimensional concept objective comprising of of subjective and objective facets and to measure these different aspects.
  2. To ask people directly how they view their well-being (subjective).

WHO uses the word ‘well being’ in its definition of health from 1948. ‘Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity2’.

It is important to recognize that well-being for children differs from that of adults3. Measuring adult well-being could include components such as job satisfaction, earnings or work-life balance. For children, relationships are the most critical area in relation to the quality of their lives. Therefore, when working to improve children’s well-being, relationships within different settings such as family, peers, school and the community is essential to consider4.


1Dodge, R., Daly, A., Huyton, J., & Sanders, L. (2012). The challenge of defining wellbeing. International Journal of Wellbeing, 2(3), 222-235. doi:10.5502/ijw.v2i3.4

2Preamble to the Constitution of WHO as adopted by the International Health Conference, New York, 19 June - 22 July 1946; signed on 22 July 1946 by the representatives of 61 States (Official Records of WHO, no. 2, p. 100) and entered into force on 7 April 1948

3OECD (2009), Doing Better for Children

4OECD (2019), "PISA 2018 Well-being Framework", in PISA 2018 Assessment and Analytical Framework, OECD Publishing, Paris, https://doi.org/10.1787/38a34353-en.


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