Document Type


Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Lisa Newland


Children’s subjective well-being is a child’s judgment of their well-being. Subjective well- being can have positive and negative indicators. Positive indicators include but are not limited to safety, feeling happy, and feeling excited. Negative indicators include but are not limited to lack of safety, lack of confidence, and sadness. Children’s ethnic background and their relation to their ethnic background may influence their subjective well-being. Research focusing on ethnic identity and child well-being has found positive associations. Research has also found a relationship between the context of family, school, peers, religion, community, and ethnic identity. This comparative phenomenological study aimed to explore the subjective well-being of Ghanaian children living in the United States and Ghana. For this study, data was gathered from thirty participants: fifteen in the United States and fifteen in Ghana. Purposeful and snowball sampling methods were used to gather participants. Participants in the U.S. were recruited from one Ghanaian church and through friends. Participants living in Ghana were recruited from two churches and one school. Child assent and parental consent were attained to begin data collection upon approval from churches and schools. After attaining assent and consent, parents completed a demographic form before one-on-one interviews began with children. Guided by three theoretical frameworks, social constructivist theory, Bronfenbrenner’s ecological systems theory, and the ethnic identity theory, the findings in this study illuminated positive indicators of the subjective well-being of Ghanaian children, with some negative indicators. Positive well-being indicators included children’s ability to find coping and safety through faith. Ghanaian children also expressed having supportive family and friends. Negative indicators included bullying and corporal punishment. Most Ghanaian children had a strong ethnic identity concerning their subjective well-being.

Subject Categories

African Studies | Developmental Psychology


Child Development, Children, Ghana, Religion, Subjective Well-being, United States

Number of Pages



University of South Dakota



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