Assessing the KIDS COUNT Composite Index

Posted August 11, 2003
By the Annie E. Casey Foundation and the Population Reference Bureau
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Each year since 1990, the Annie E. Casey Foundation has released a KIDS COUNT® Data Book, which assesses child well-being in each state based on 10 key statistical indicators.

Study Scope

This study compares the performance of a 10-indicator KIDS COUNT Index of child well-being to a 28-indicator index (FCD-Land) and a 36-item index (America’s Children).

These comparisons can help inform the development of new indicators and indices of child well-being, including the early-stage efforts to generate a global measure of child well-being.

Study Findings

While the KIDS COUNT, FCD-Land and America’s Children indices all registered improvement in child well-being, the size of the improvements differed. From 1990 to 2000, the KIDS COUNT Index showed a 14% improvement in child well-being compared to 7% for the FCD-Land Index. Between 1995 and 2000, the KIDS COUNT Index showed a 12% improvement compared to 9% for the America’s Children Index and 8% for the FCD-Land Index.

Determining which indicators are responsible for the differences among the three indices fell beyond the scope of this study. However, the report’s authors note that the FCD-Land and America’s Children indices included more dimensions of well-being, which led to differences in these indices versus the 10-item KIDS COUNT Index.

Despite these differences, researchers found enough similarities between the KIDS COUNT and the broader indices to suggest that the 10-item KIDS COUNT Index reflects the most important dimensions of child well-being.

About the Series

This publication is part of the KIDS COUNT Working Paper series, which elevates discussions about data gaps, results and trends related to the KIDS COUNT database.

Findings & Stats

Statements & Quotations

Key Takeaway

Is the 10-item KIDS COUNT index a useful tool for gauging child well-being?

The KIDS COUNT and FCD-Land indices displayed similar trends in the 1990s — minor fluctuations in the first half of the decade and consistent improvement in the second half.

The KIDS COUNT and America’s Children indices also displayed similar movement from 1995 to 2000. Both improved consistently during the late 1990s and each reached their highest value in 2000.

From 1990 to 2000, every year-to-year change moved in same direction across all indices with one exception: the jump from 1995 to 1996. During this time frame, the value of the America’s Children Index declines slightly while the KIDS COUNT and FCD-Land indices both rise slightly.