US Gets an ‘F’ In Child Welfare and an ‘A’ In Military Spending

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?


Related Care2 Coverage

The Five Worst States To Spend Your Childhood

1 In 5 Children Now Living In Poverty

A Guide To Pursuing Meaningful Education Reform


Photo Credit: thinkstock


Linda F.
.4 years ago

no aide to foreign governments that support FGM
140 million girls now alive have experienced FGM. This mutilation is carried out with no anaesthetic.Unknown numbers of victims die directly because of FGM, many more are scarred (physically and mentally) for life.3 million new FGM cases occur annually . Its rationales include dire mis-information (the clitoris may grow into a third leg / penis, or contact will kill a man or baby) bride price (uncut women may be excluded even from handling food and water),

Kay M.
.4 years ago

Thank you Judy for a great article and thanks to the members for all the good comments, It took a little while to read thru the 110 comments but it was worth it.

Jane H.
Jane H4 years ago

pathetic and unnecessary--we need to get up on our high horses

Robert H.
Robert Hamm4 years ago

Oh HELL YES if its on Youtube it MUST be true!!! NOT!

Dale O.

It is frightening when the future of children is often not considered as a vital role for the future.
True, Kevin B. For some Faux unNews is quite the rose coloured glasses.
Am hoping that Canada can become more and more like Finland, Norway as we need improvement as well.

Mari Garcia
Mari Garcia4 years ago

Ellen, you and people like you are the reason I mock Americans.

Mari Garcia
Mari Garcia4 years ago

Why am I not surprised? This is why I mock America.

Kevin Brown
Kevin Brown4 years ago

Ellen G.- that sounded like a fox news broadcast. Please step out of the right wing bubble.

Ellen Gaston
Ellen Gaston4 years ago

Wow. Maybe we should stop spending money on bankrupt green energy companies, cell phones for poor (and dead) people and high-speed rail to nowhere for Harry Reid's district. I think a strong military is required of our federal government. The other stuff, not so much. Our kid's education is the direct result of Teachers Unions admitting they don't care about educating kids, but only care about power. It is on YouTube for those that don't believe me. Food stamps recipients have shot up incredibly in 4 years so the nanny state does not seem to be helping.

Autumn S.
Autumn S4 years ago