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Child Well-Being: Anthropological Perspectives.

Stevenson, E.G.J; Worthman, C.M.


C.M. Worthman


A. Ben-Arieh

F. Casas

I. Frønes

J.E. Korbin


A major contribution of anthropological approaches to child well-being is that they address variation across a wide range of cultures and settings. This broad perspective is necessary because cultures vary widely both in care practices and in definitions of child well-being. Anthropologists have derived models to explain variation in child development and well-being in relation to factors not only at the level of the caregiver or household (e.g., parents’ schooling and household wealth) but also at the level of the broader environment (e.g., political economy and disease ecology). These models pay special attention to culture both as a determinant of resource distribution within societies and as a source of ideologies that inform and motivate actions, including patterns of child-rearing. Relevant anthropological models can be grouped into two classes: heuristic models to be applied within particular cultures and predictive models to be applied across time or across cultures. We review a selection of these models, identify the specific issues they address, and describe the ways the models help explain how global transitions in vital rates, education, nutrition and disease, and politics, economics, and ecology are affecting child well-being worldwide. We illustrate the pragmatic value of this approach by describing some interventions to promote child well-being that are congruent with these models and supported by evidence. We close by advocating longitudinal, mixed-methods research to further develop anthropological models of child development and well-being, and to identify forces affecting child well-being across cultures.


Stevenson, E., & Worthman, C. (2014). Child Well-Being: Anthropological Perspectives. In A. Ben-Arieh, F. Casas, I. Frønes, & J. Korbin (Eds.), Handbook of Child Well-Being: Theories, Methods and Policies in Global Perspective (485-512). Springer Verlag.

Publication Date 2014
Deposit Date Oct 24, 2014
Publisher Springer Verlag
Pages 485-512
Book Title Handbook of Child Well-Being: Theories, Methods and Policies in Global Perspective
ISBN 9789048190621