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Last Updated: Wednesday, 14 February 2007, 15:11 GMT
Unicef report: Key points at-a-glance
The UK has come bottom of a Unicef league table for child well-being across 21 industrialised countries.

The study looked at a total of 40 indicators in six categories. Here is a summary of some of the report's key findings.


  • European countries dominate the top half of the overall league table, with the Netherlands, Sweden, Denmark and Finland claiming the top four places.

  • The UK and United States are in the bottom third of the rankings for five of the six categories covered. The six categories are material well-being, family and peer relationships, health and safety, behaviour and risks, and children's own sense of well-being (educational and subjective).

  • No country features in the top third of the rankings for all six dimensions of child well-being, although the Netherlands and Sweden come close to achieving this.

  • Child poverty remains above the 15% mark in the three southern European countries (Portugal, Spain, Italy) and in three Anglophone countries (the US, the UK, and Ireland).
  • There is no obvious relationship between levels of child well-being and GDP per capita. The Czech Republic, for example, achieves a higher overall rank for child well-being than several much wealthier countries.

  • A total of nine countries - all in northern Europe - have brought child poverty rates below 10%.

  • Approximately 80% of children in the countries under review are living with both parents. This ranges from more than 90% in Greece and Italy to less than 70% in the UK and 60% in the US.
  • Even in the lowest ranked countries, almost two-thirds of children still regularly eat the main meal of the day with their families, with France and Italy maintaining the tradition most of all.

  • Fewer than one in every 10,000 young people die before the age of 19 as a result of accident, murder, suicide or violence.
  • European countries occupy the top half of the report's child health and safety table, with the top five places claimed by the four Nordic countries and the Netherlands.
  • Infant mortality rates range from under three per 1,000 births in Iceland and Japan, to over six per 1,000 in Hungary, Poland and the US.

  • The overall OECD league table of young people's risk behaviours sees the UK at the foot of the rankings by "a considerable distance".
  • Risk behaviours considered in the study include smoking, being drunk, using cannabis, fighting and bullying, and sexual behaviour.
  • Only about a third of young people eat fruit daily.
  • Only about a third of young people exercise for an hour or more on five or more days a week - youths take most exercise in Ireland, Canada and the US, and the least in Belgium and France.

  • Finland, Canada, Australia, and Japan head this particular table in the report.
  • The UK is rated in the bottom third of the table for educational well-being.
  • Four southern European countries - Greece, Italy, Spain and Portugal - occupy the bottom four places.

  • Children's subjective sense of well-being appears to be markedly higher in the Netherlands, Spain, and Greece and markedly lower in Poland and the UK.
  • Approximately 80% of young people consider their health to be good or excellent in every OECD country except the UK.
  • The Netherlands, Norway and Austria, are at the head of the table with over a third of their schoolchildren admitting to "liking school a lot".


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