Honorary Research Fellow
Cardiff University

Gwyther Rees is an internationally renowned expert on children’s subjective wellbeing. He has been researching children’s wellbeing in the UK and internationally for nearly thirty years. Gwyther has considerable experience of working in the third sector with various organisations, such as the Children’s Society and UNICEF. He recently completed an ESRC-funded doctoral thesis at Cardiff University on children’s subjective wellbeing.

Between 1990 and 2013 Gwyther worked for The Children’s Society – a national children’s charity in England – most recently as Research Director. During this time he specialised in research on young runaways, adolescent maltreatment and children’s subjective wellbeing. A number of these research projects were undertaken in partnership with the University of York.

From 2014 to 2017 Gwyther undertook an ESRC-funded PhD in the Wales Doctoral Training Partnership. Throughout that time he developed considerable and valuable links with researchers in Cardiff University, particularly in WISERD. 

Over the same period Gwyther has been the Research Director for the highly successful Children’s Worlds study. This is funded by the Jacobs Foundation and is an international survey of children’s subjective wellbeing – the largest and most robust internationally comparative study of children. The survey is currently in its third wave and now boasts a membership of over 40 countries. Gwyther is also currently a consultant at UNICEF Office of Research - Innocenti where he is contributing to work on a Report Card on educational inequalities in rich countries.

Gwyther has developed considerable quantitative research expertise, particularly in the development of large-scale surveys, longitudinal data analysis and the use cohort and panel studies.

Other professional activities include: 

  • Member of expert panel, Santa Monica Wellbeing Index (funded by Bloomberg Philanthropies)
  • Member of advisory group, MyWEB project: feasibility of implementing a European Longitudinal Study for Children and Young People (EU-funded)
  • Advisory/consultative work for the Children’s Commissioner for Wales
  • Consultative work and member of advisory group for The Children’s Society’s research programme on the neglect of adolescents
  • Joint guest editor of special issue of Children & Youth Services Review
  • Consultancy work on child well-being for the Welsh Government

Gwyther’s expertise and research interests meet three of WISERD’s research priorities. First, our ESRC WISERD Civil Society Centre is interested in understanding better the importance and of civil society, particularly exclusion from civil society. It is also interested in the role of third sector organisations. And finally we are interested in children’s rights and voices within civil society. Second, WISERD Education is interested in children and young people’s experiences, attitudes and behaviours, particularly those living in Wales. This includes a strong interest in children’s wellbeing, from the early years (e.g. in our evaluation of the Foundation Phase) through primary and into secondary schools (e.g. the WISERD Education Multi Cohort Study). And third, WISERD has developed considerable expertise and interest in lifecourse, whether that be through childhood and adolescence, participation in education through the lifecourse, or the role of the family in the intergenerational transmission of attitudes and behaviours.

Gwyther’s interests, expertise and research connections are invaluable in supporting us in our work, especially in relation to supporting the introduction of the Children’s Worlds survey to young people in Wales.