This just in: a UNICEF survey of 29 countries entitled “Child Well-Being In Rich Countries: A Comparative Review,” ranks the U.S #26 in child well-being, just above Lithuania, Latvia and Romania (three of the poorest countries in the survey).
The survey evaluated material well-being, overall health, access to housing and education in 29 of the world’s advanced economies to determine how well children are faring, and also examined what children are saying about their own well-being.
On child poverty, the U.S. did even worse, coming in at #28. The only country among the 29 that has more children living in poverty than America is Romania. The U.S. was also near the bottom for rates of immunization against measles and polio, as well as for “child life satisfaction.”
UNICEF said in a statement on the survey that child poverty in countries like the U.S. “is not inevitable but is policy-susceptible” and that there isn’t necessarily a strong relationship between per capita GDP and overall child well-being, explaining: “The Czech Republic is ranked higher than Austria, Slovenia higher than Canada, and Portugal higher than the United States.”
“Governments need to guide policies in a way that will safeguard the long-term futures of their children and economies,” said Gordon Alexander, director of UNICEF’s Office of Research. “This has never been more urgent than in today’s climate.”
Amen to that. This is not about how rich a country is; it’s about how the government chooses to spend its riches.
The Netherlands ranked number one on the list, with Norway, Iceland, Finland and Sweden filling out the top five; these countries are making vastly better decisions for their children and youth than the United States.
So how is the U.S. spending its wealth?
The International Business Times brings the encouraging news that the U.S. has taken top honors in several other surveys conducted by global organizations:
The United States is No. 1 on many other lists: It spends more on the military than the next 12 nations on the list combined; it’s the best in the world at imprisoning people; and it has the most obese people, the highest divorce rate, and the highest rate of both illicit and prescription drug use.
So a strong military is more important than our children?
Actually, it gets worse. The U.S. is not just setting the wrong priorities; there is also a level of incompetence.
For example, compared to other countries, the U.S. spends plenty on education. and yet its schools are rated average on surveys.
From Business Insider:
The three-yearly OECD Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) report, which compares the knowledge and skills of 15-year-olds in 70 countries around the world, ranked the United States 14th out of 34 OECD countries for reading skills, 17th for science and a below-average 25th for mathematics.
Worse, out of 34 OECD countries, only 8 have a lower high school graduation rate. The United States’ education outcomes most resemble Poland’s, a nation that spends less than half on education than the U.S.
Depressing news. Our children are our future, and we must do better by them. What do you think?
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