Links between Poverty and Children’s Subjective Wellbeing: Examining the Mediating and Moderating Role of Relationships

Esther Y N CHO*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

19 Citations (Scopus)


There is disagreement among studies about whether there is an association between poverty and the subjective wellbeing of children. One possible reason for this disagreement is that household income, an often-employed measure of child poverty, may not stably and accurately represent the real life experience of children; some studies have suggested, however, that material deprivation could be a better measure of child poverty. Also, the association between poverty and subjective wellbeing may not be that straightforward, as there could be underlying mechanisms (such as mediation and moderation) affecting its direction or strength. As suggested by empirical findings, family relationships and friendships could be potential mediators or moderators of the association between poverty and subjective wellbeing: poverty may affect relationships; relationships are an important factor in children’s subjective wellbeing; and economic status affects child outcomes, though not necessarily subjective wellbeing, via relationships. As the potential links have not been extensively explored, this study examines the possible role of family relationships and friendships as mediators or moderators between poverty—using child deprivation as its measure—and the subjective wellbeing of children. Results show that the effect of children’s material deprivation on their subjective wellbeing is mediated by their family relationships and friendships. Also, family relationships are a significant moderator. While the negative impact of child deprivation on subjective wellbeing could be exacerbated when family relationships are not well, good family relationships may prevent the further deterioration in subjective wellbeing. Implications of the findings are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)585-607
Number of pages23
JournalChild Indicators Research
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2018

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Social Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science

User-Defined Keywords

  • Child poverty
  • Child wellbeing
  • Material deprivation
  • Mediation
  • Moderation
  • Subjective wellbeing


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