THE LIST: How the U.S. Treats Its Children
A new comprehensive ranking of the well-being of children in 30 industrialized countries shows that the United States spends more public money than most but has less impressive outcomes in health, education and poverty.
The study called “Doing Better for Children” was released by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. It ranked the state of childhood in six dimensions--material well-being, housing and environment, education, health, risk behaviors and quality of school life.
Here are the results for the United States:
1) Material well-being: U.S. ranked 23rd.
--U.S. average family income was second highest after Luxembourg--but the U.S. child poverty rate, at 21.6 percent, is nearly double the OECD average of 12.4 percent.
2) Housing and environment: U.S. ranked 12th.
--Norway was first, followed by Australia, Sweden and Iceland.
3) Educational well-being: U.S. ranked 25th.
Finland was ranked first; Turkey last.
--The United States was fifth worst in the rate of children who lack more than 4 of the following 8 educational possessions: a desk to study, a quiet place to work, a computer for schoolwork, educational software, an Internet connection, a calculator, a dictionary and school textbooks.
--The United States ranked sixth worst in countries with gaps between good and poor school performers.
4) Quality of school life (bullying; whether students like school): U.S. ranked 14th.
5) Health and safety--U.S. ranked 24th overall.
The Slovak Republic topped the list; Turkey was at the bottom.
--The U.S. infant mortality rate is sixth (at 6.8 per 1,000) . Ahead are Japan (with 2.8 per 1,000), followed by France, Germany, the United Kingdom and Canada.
6) Risk behaviors (smoking, drinking, teen births): U.S. ranked 15th.
*The United States spends one-third less annually than the OECD average on children from ages 0 to 5.
*The study concludes “that the United States should spend more for better starts in life for younger, disadvantaged children.”
*The Answer Sheet concludes that school reformers who ignore the role that poverty plays in student achievement are unlikely to succeed.
September 11, 2009; 6:30 AM ET
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