Overall Well-Being of U.S. Boys, Girls About Equal, Study Finds
The "overall well-being" of male and female children in the United States is about equal, according to a study published on Wednesday in the journal Social Indicators Research, the Washington Post reports. The study, funded by the not-for-profit Foundation for Child Development, used data from a number of large studies, such as federal health surveys and the census.
For the study, researchers led by Kenneth Land, a professor of demographic studies and sociology at Duke University, tracked boys and girls from childhood through their early twenties between 1985 and 2001. The study measured performance with an Index of Child Well-Being, based on a combination of 28 factors in seven areas, such as health, safety and economic status.
The study found that the overall well-being of boys and girls has improved at about the same rate. However, the study found some differences among boys and girls. For example, according to the study, boys are less likely to have low body weights at birth, and girls are less likely to use illicit drugs and alcohol.
According to the Post, the results of the study raised "immediate criticism from advocates and researchers on both sides" of the "long-running debate on whether boys or girls have it better in America." Land said, "If you're on one side or the other of the gender-wars debate, you could pick a specific indicator to buttress your case. But if we take a step back a little and look at what the data say overall, we find that the two genders have tracked pretty closely" (Stein, Washington Post, 2/23).