Happiness and aspirations

Child of the New Century (CNC) has helped researchers learn more about what makes children happy and the hopes they have for the future.

Are young people today happy?

In the age 11 survey, you were asked how happy you were with different aspects of your lives. More than half of you said you were ‘completely happy’ at school, while nearly 3 in 4 of you were ‘completely happy’ at home.  Girls were slightly happier than boys with the schools they attended.

When it came to appearance, 4 in 10 boys at age 11 said they were ‘completely happy’ with the way they looked, compared to 3 in 10 girls.

A report based on CNC revealed that children who said they had ‘lots’ of friends were happier than those who had ‘some’ or ‘not many’ friends.  Children who bullied other children or who were bullied themselves were less likely than others to be happy and more likely to worry.

Happiness and family background

Researchers have found that a range of background factors are related to happiness, from the area you live in to the type of jobs your parents have. But happiness can’t be bought! At age 11, most children said they were happy with their lives – this was regardless of how much money their family had. Children’s happiness was also unrelated to whether or not their family owned or rented a home.

The findings revealed that children who got on well with their brothers and sisters tended to be happier than those who got on less well with their siblings. Having fun as a family at the weekends was also associated with increased happiness and less worry.

Children’s career aspirations

Does it matter whether a seven-year-old wants to be a doctor, a firefighter or a football player when they grow up? Most of us don’t know what we want to be until we get a little older but a study based on CNC has revealed how children who aspire to top jobs are generally more focused and even behave better.  The research suggests that children with high ambitions tend to be better at overcoming problems.

Overall, the most popular jobs with children in the age 7 CNC survey included teacher, scientist, hairdresser, sports player, firefighter, vet, doctor, artist and builder.


Britain in 2014 magazine, Economic and Social Research Council

Predictors of wellbeing (2013) by Sally McManus, Jenny Chanfeau and Cheryl Lloyd

Do primary school children’s career aspirations matter? The relationship between family poverty, career aspirations, and emotional and behavioural problems (2012) by Eirini Flouri and Constantina Panourgia