This index was produced by the UNICEF Office of Research and looked at the 29 nations of the industrialized world. These rankings were based on five different dimensions: material well-being, health and safety, education, behaviors and risks, and housing and environment. Those five dimensions were further broken down into 12 components: monetary deprivation, material deprivation, health at birth, preventive health services, childhood mortality, participation, achievement, health behaviors, risk behaviors, exposure to violence, and housing and environmental safety. Then that further branched off in 26 indicators to get a comprehensive and accurate view of these countries. According to this research, the top 10 of the UNICEF’s child well-being in rich countries index are:
Netherlands – Average rank: 2.4
Norway – Average rank: 4.6
Iceland – Average rank: 5
Finland – Average rank: 5.4
Sweden – Average rank: 6.2
Germany – Average rank: 9
Luxembourg – Average rank: 9.2
Switzerland – Average rank: 9.6
Belgium – Average rank: 11.2
Ireland – Average rank: 11.6
Canada ranked 17th with an average score of 16.6 in this year’s release and in the previous study released in 2007, Canada ranked 14th out of 20 countries examined at the time.
Canada had the worst ranking in terms of youth cannabis users at 28 per cent; was 24th in participation in higher education (though that figure was 81 per cent); and ranked 27th in fighting obesity, with 20 per cent of children thought to be obese. Eighty-five per cent of Canadian youth were immunized, good enough for a ranking of 28th. The UN agency placed Canada 14th in educational well-being, 15th in material well-being and 16th in behaviour and risks. Canada scored third-best on smoking, with UNICEF reporting only four per cent of children aged 11, 13 and 15 reported smoking at least once a week. Canada ranked 21st in bullying, with 35 per cent of children aged 11, 13 and 15 report being bullied at school at least once in the past couple of months. UNICEF also placed Canada 22nd in infant mortality.
Canada’s results were not the only surprising ones in this index as the United States came in 26th with the an average score of 24.8. What the results of Canada and the U.S. prove is that there is not a strong connection between GDP per capita and overall child well-being. This is surprising as it would be an easy assumption to make that the higher the GDP per capita the better the lives children would have in that country.
UNICEF’s child well-being in rich countries index sheds light on the living conditions, health and education of future generations of the industrialized world. Though these are merely statics, they do reflect the quality, or lack there of, of children’s wellbeing. Hopefully by bringing these results to light improvements will be made where they should be (I’m talking to you Canada).