An overview of children's wellbeing in 29 countries

UNICEF’s Office of Research is launching today the Innocenti Report Card 11 which presents a comparative overview of child wellbeing in developed countries. The report is being launched at a meeting in Dublin organised by UNICEF in cooperation with the Irish Ministry for Children.

The launch is followed by a discussion with Frances Fitzgerald, Irish Minister for Children, Lieve Fransen, Director of Europe 2020, Social Policies at the European Commission, and Gordon Alexander, Director UNICEF Office of Research in Florence. Julien Van Geertsom from SPP Integration Sociale in Belgium, ESN member, has been invited to participate at the meeting on behalf of ESN. He commented:

To measure is to know. The new report card gives us the opportunity to monitor the Recommendation on Investing in Children, which forms part of the Social Investment Package (SIP). With these intruments we must bring the social dimension back to the heart of the Europe 2020 strategy and restore the balance between economic and social objectives in European policies. For local authorities this is of great importance. At the end of the day they are confronted with the consequences of austerity policies and the growing child poverty. We should give priority to combatting child poverty and bringing it into the European semester, especially in the analysis of the National Reform Programs and Country Specific Recommendations. If we acknowledge that economic objectives must be enforced, then we must also realise that social objectives must be pushed forward. (Julien Van Geertsom from SPP Integration Sociale in Belgium, ESN member)


The league table of child wellbeing is designed to measure and compare progress for children across the developed world. Its purpose is to record the standards achieved by the most advanced nations and to contribute to the debate in all countries about how such standards might be achieved.

The report is divided into three main parts. Part one presents a league table of child wellbeing in 29 of the world’s advanced economies. Part two looks at what children say about their own wellbeing (including a league table of children’s life satisfaction). Part three examines changes in child wellbeing in advanced economies over the first decade of the 2000s, looking at each country’s progress in educational achievement, teenage birth rates, childhood obesity levels, the prevalence of bullying, and the use of tobacco, alcohol and drugs.

Some of the key findings reveal that The Netherlands is the only country ranked among the top five countries in all dimensions of child wellbeing. The Netherlands is also the clear leader when wellbeing is evaluated by children themselves. Overall, there does not appear to be a strong relationship between per capita GDP and overall child wellbeing. The Czech Republic is ranked higher than Austria, Slovenia higher than Canada, and Portugal higher than the United States. However, 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. Finally, there are signs that the countries of Central and Eastern Europe are beginning to close the gap with the more established industrial economies.