UNICEF: U.S. and U.K. Are the Worst Industrialized Countries for Kids

Published: February 14, 2007

LONDON – According to a study of Western industrialized nations that was just released by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), children in the United States and Britain struggle the most when it comes to poverty, safety, health, relationships, behavior and overall well-being.

In Innocenti Report Card 7, UNICEF assessed the income, health and safety, education, families and friendships, risky or bad behavior, and subjective well-being of children and young people in 21 of the wealthiest nations. Britain was ranked last and the United States was ranked second to last in the rankings for five of the six dimensions reviewed.

America was ranked the worst for “health and safety.” Britain scored the lowest in the “family and peer relationships” and “behaviors and risks” categories, with the United States right behind it.

Other findings include:

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  • The Netherlands heads the table of overall child wellbeing, ranking in the top 10 for all six dimensions ofchild well-being covered by this report.
  • European countries dominate the top half of the overall league table, with Northern European countriesclaiming the top four places.
  • All countries have weaknesses that need to be addressed, and no country features in the top third of the rankings for all six dimensions of child well-being (though the Netherlands and Sweden come close to doing so).
  • No single dimension of well-being stands as a reliable proxy for child well-being as a whole, and severalOECD countries find themselves with widely differing rankings for different dimensions of child well-being.
  • There is no obvious relationship between levels of child well-being and GDP per capita. The Czech Republic, for example, achieves a higher overall rank for child well-being than several much wealthier countries including France, Austria, the United States and the United Kingdom.

The average ranking position for each nation for all six dimensions are:

  • Netherlands – 4.2
  • Sweden – 5.0
  • Denmark – 7.2
  • Finland – 7.5
  • Spain – 8.0
  • Switzerland – 8.3
  • Norway – 8.7
  • Italy – 10.0
  • Ireland – 10.2
  • Belgium – 10.7
  • Germany – 11.2
  • Canada – 11.8
  • Greece – 11.8
  • Poland – 12.3
  • Czech Republic – 12.5
  • France – 13.0
  • Portugal – 13.7
  • Austria – 13.8
  • Hungary – 14.5
  • United States – 18.0
  • United Kingdom – 18.2

The report can be found online at www.unicef-icdc.org.

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