• Description

Adolescence and young adulthood are critical life stages full of possibility, but to experience healthy development, young people need support in all aspects of their lives. During this life stage, people begin to gain independence, learn social skills and behaviors that shape the rest of their lives, and begin to develop their identities. The youth field—or people working with and doing research related to young people, such as policymakers, funders, researchers, and practitioners—needs information as it considers investments and interventions to support youth development, and everyone in the field would benefit from understanding the distinctive but interrelated domains of youth well-being that need nurturing. The attempt to measure youth well-being is not new, but the field needs to continue refining how it defines and measures these domains. Such refinement will provide a stronger toolset to set priorities, establish baseline levels, and track progress over time.

This report describes eight domains of youth well-being and considerations for their measurement. It summarizes both traditional and emergent approaches to measurement and notable gaps in each area. It also includes key themes relevant to all domains, notably the critical need to include young people in the process of developing well-being concepts and indicators and to improve understanding of how well-being dynamics differ across identities.

This is one in a series of resources developed by the Urban Institute to support members of the youth field in developing and measuring more holistic conceptions of youth well-being.