The report is a good example of indicators to be taken into account when developing and monitoring policies that have direct and indirect effect on child well-being, including cross-sectorally.

The paper key findings can be summarised as follows:

- The Netherlands is the leader and the only country ranked among the top five countries in all five dimensions of child well-being, so is it also the leader when well-being is evaluated by children themselves;

- Four Nordic countries – Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden – follow the Netherlands at the top of the child well-being, whilst four southern European countries – Greece, Italy, Portugal and Spain – are placed in the bottom half of the table;

- The bottom four places in the table are occupied by three of the poorest countries in the survey - Latvia, Lithuania and Romania, and by one of the richest, the United States (where GDP does not translate into greater health gains);

- Overall, there does not appear to be a strong relationship between per capita GDP and overall child well-being. The Czech Republic is ranked higher than Austria, Slovenia higher than Canada, and Portugal higher than the United States;

- Obesity: The percentage of overweight children rose in 17 of the 21 countries over the decade; the sharpest rise was seen in Poland, where the percentage of overweight children doubled;

- Infant mortality: the only countries with infant mortality rates higher than 6 per 1,000 births are Latvia, Romania, Slovakia and the United States. Three of the richest nations in the developed world – Canada, the United Kingdom and the United States – are placed in the bottom third of the infant mortality league table;

- Immunization: Greece and Hungary head the table with 99% immunization coverage; three of the richest countries in the OECD – Austria, Canada and Denmark – are the only countries in which the immunization rate falls below 90% (WHO recommended target is 95%);

- Child deaths: Central and Eastern European countries score poorly – along with Belgium and Greece;

- Early childhood education is virtually universal in Belgium, France, the Netherlands and Spain;

- More than 50% of children eat breakfast every day in all 29 countries except Romania and Slovenia. Only in the Netherlands and Portugal does the percentage of children who eat breakfast every day exceed 80%;

- The only countries in which fewer than 30% of children eat fruit every day are Finland and Sweden – plus the three Baltic countries, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania.


- Child Well-being in Rich Countries: A comparative overview


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Last modified on April 25 2013.