It’s not much fun being a kid in the U.S., according to a UNICEF survey (pdf) of child well-being, which ranked the U.S. and Britain at the bottom among 21 developed nations. The Netherlands, Sweden, Denmark and Finland topped the ratings.
The study ranked the countries in six categories, based on national statistics: material well-being, health and safety, education, peer and family relationships, behaviors and risks, and young people’s own subjective sense of well-being. Both the U.S. and Britain were in the bottom two-thirds of five of the six categories.
Compared to European countries, U.S. lost points for economic inequality, less government aid to the poor, weaker social services (day care, preventative health care) and more single-parent families. While 90 percent of Greek and Italian children live with both biological parents, only 60 percent of U.S. children are growing up with both parents.
The U.S. finished last in the health and safety category, based on infant mortality, vaccinations for childhood diseases, deaths from injuries and accidents before age 19, and whether children reported fighting in the past year or being bullied in the previous two months.
The U.S. was ranked 12th in education, the highest ranking overall.
Obviously, the report is loaded with assumptions about what contributes to child well-being, but scoffers should look at what children say about their relationships to parents and friends.