Worlds of Influence: Understanding what shapes child well-being in rich countries

Worlds of Influence: Understanding what shapes child well-being in rich countries

Significant gaps in child well-being can be found in forty-one relatively wealthy European Union and OECD (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development) countries, a report from UNICEF Office of Research – Innocenti finds. Based on an analysis of pre-COVID-19 data in areas such as children's mental well-being, physical health, and academic and social skills, the report, Worlds of Influence: Understanding what shapes child well-being in rich countries (HTML or PDF), ranked the Netherlands, Denmark, and Norway as the countries with the best child well-being outcomes and Chile, Bulgaria, and the United States as those with the worst, with the U.S. ranked thirty-eighth for physical health and thirty-second for mental well-being and skills. (Israel, Mexico and Turkey were excluded from the overall ranking due to lack of data.) According to the report, child obesity and overweight rates have risen in recent years to about one in three children overall, with rates in Southern Europe up significantly; Turkey had the lowest life satisfaction rate among children, at 53 percent, followed by Japan and the United Kingdom; and Lithuania had the highest rate of adolescent suicide, followed by New Zealand and Estonia. The study also found that, on average, 40 percent of children across all OECD and EU countries had not acquired basic reading and mathematics skills by age 15, while at least one in five children reported lacking confidence in their ability to make new friends. The report's recommendations for improving child well-being include ensuring that all children know their rights, incorporating children's viewpoints into public policy, and acknowledging the links and trade-offs between child well-being outcomes and national priorities.

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