Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Child Well-Being Report Card

The U.S. got an F on UNICEF's (For every child, health, education, protection, equality - Advance humanity) "An Overview of Child Well-Being in Rich Countries" report card. Socialist countries that offer universal health care ranked highest which didn't surprise me, but I was curious to know what exactly constitutes child well-being and why was the U.S. ranked so poorly.

"Well-being" means everything: eating regular meals together with familes and talking regularly with their parents, receiving full courses of immunizations, literacy at age 15, percentage of young people who find their peers 'kind and helpful' (the U.S. had low marks here), percentage of children who eat fruit at breakfast, percentage of children who say they feel 'lonely, awkward and out of place', percentage who get daily exercise.

So drug use, teen pregnancy, obsesity, mean bullying peers, self aware lonely kids, kids without health insurance, high school drop outs -- all did the U.S. in. It makes me want to move to Amsterdam. Or Stockholm.

Child well-being at its highest in the Netherlands, Sweden, Denmark and Finland. There is no strong or consistent relationship between per capita GDP and child well-being. The Czech Republic, for example, achieves a higher overall rank for child well-being than several much wealthier European countries.

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