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PostPosted: Wed Feb 14, 2007 10:02 pm 
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This report was mentioned on the news here this morning, stating that Germany had been placed in a middle range altogether, but when, on opening the BBC website later on, I saw that the US and the UK had come out in the last two places I thought this might interest people here, too.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/in_depth/6360477.stm

Quote:
The first report on the well-being of children in 21 western states shows marked divisions in education, health and sexual behaviour and drug-taking.
The Netherlands topped the well-being table compiled by the UN children's agency Unicef, with Scandinavian nations also performing well.

However the United Kingdom and United States fare much worse, taking the bottom two places in the table.

The report shows no strong link between child well-being and per capita GDP.

Unicef says the report, titled Child Poverty in Perspective: An Overview of Child Well-being in Rich Countries, is the first study of childhood across 21 of the world's industrialised nations.

The Netherlands comes out top in terms of overall child well-being, and finishes in the top 10 for all six areas covered by the report.

REPORT CATEGORIES
Material well-being
Family and peer relationships
Health and safety
Behaviour and risks
Own sense of well-being [educational]
Own sense of well-being [subjective]



No one country features in the top third of the table for all six areas studied, though the Netherlands and Sweden come close.

The report's authors say no single area of well-being can stand alone as a sign of overall well-being, and point out that several countries have widely differing rankings for the various aspects of well-being.

They say that the wealth of a nation is no indicator of how well a child feels.

CHILD WELL-BEING TABLE
1. Netherlands
2. Sweden
3. Denmark
4. Finland
5. Spain
6. Switzerland
7. Norway
8. Italy
9. Republic of Ireland
10. Belgium
11. Germany
12. Canada
13. Greece
14. Poland
15. Czech Republic
16. France
17. Portugal
18. Austria
19. Hungary
20. United States
21. United Kingdom
Source: Unicef



One of the report's authors told the BBC that under-investment and a "dog eat dog" attitude in society were to blame for Britain's poor performance.

The British government says its policies have helped to improve child welfare.

Unicef UK executive director David Bull said all the countries had weaknesses that needed to be addressed.

"By comparing the performance of countries we see what is possible with a commitment to supporting every child to fulfil his or her full potential," he said.

Most of the figures in the report come from 2000-2003, which the authors say was the most up-to-date information available.


(The quote is slightly abridged from the text in the web-article.)

The full report is here: http://news.bbc.co.uk/nol/shared/bsp/hi ... unicef.pdf


I thought this was quite interesting, although I'd have wished that the data collection had been different. I may be wrong, but it seems that they just took whatever available data they could find.
Also, some of the categories appear a bit arbitrary.
But still, there'll always be a certain arbitrariness in such studies, in how the categories are defined and how the data is collected, and yet the result can be interesting.

I find the result harder to read than it seems at first sight, as there are several seemingly contradictory findings (for example, the UK has the lowest mortality rate due to accidents or illness among minors, but British youths are found to be the most indulging in dangerous lifestyles).
So, things aren't easily explained, but still worth a look, I thought.

Another result I found interesting was that the same countries that scored highest in the PISA studies (testing the comprehension abilities and skills of schoolchildren in OECD countries) also came out highest in this one.


(I'm starting this thread both here and on TORC, but as I'm very busy at the moment can't promise to post much in either. I'll be looking forward to people's responses nevertheless, though. :) )

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