• Article
  • November 2, 2017

Study: Few Adults Think Today's Children are Better Off

Adults think today's kids are worse off than their parents.

Today's children benefit from more health technology and progress countering communicable diseases, but according to a new study in the Journal of American Pediatrics, most adults don't think children are better off than they were when they were growing up. Issues of mental health, bullying, safety and obesity are more prominent than for previous generations, and these problems coupled with other challenges paint a daunting picture: a generation that seems worse off than their parents.

The study found that less than one-third of adults say the current physical health of today's children is better than their own as kids, and only 14 percent thought children's mental health is better now.

The study, conducted by C.S. Mott Children's Hospital and the Children's Hospital Association, used 2016 data from a C.S. Mott Children's Hospital National Poll on Children's Health. Investigators analyzed the aggregate opinions of adults surveyed and also examined responses by the generational groups, using: millennials (ages 18 to 34), Generation Xers (ages 35 to 50), baby boomers (ages 51 to 70) and pre-baby boomers (ages 70 and above). The study found:

  • While 30 percent of baby boomers believe kids' physical health is better than when they were growing up, less than 20 percent of millennials feel the same.
  • Neither Generation Xers nor millennials think the quality of health care for today's children is better than the care they received as kids
  • Compared to when they were kids, less than 15 percent of all adults think kids' chances to grow up with good mental health in their adulthood are better.

Providing children with a brighter future than the generation before them is an important part of the American dream. The study's authors say these perceptions among adults means society must invest more in kids' physical and mental health.

Send questions or comments to magazine@childrenshospitals.org.