25th Jun 2022

UK among the worst places in Europe for children

  • Children are best off in the Netherlands and Scandinavia (Photo: Wikipedia)

The happiest children are to be found in the Netherlands while Britain is among the worst countries in Europe in which to grow up, a new study examining children's wellbeing in 29 European countries has shown.

The report, by the Child Poverty Action Group, compares 43 separate criteria such as health, education and housing standards in EU member states as well as Norway and Iceland.

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The Netherlands followed by Sweden and Norway are the countries considered to be the best places in which to be a child.

At the bottom of the league are Romania, Bulgaria, Latvia, Lithuania and Malta.

The UK is the worst ranked of the large EU countries, coming in just ahead of Romania in 24th place, with high numbers of young people in unemployed families and low numbers in education.

Britain's poor ranking in areas such as material resources, although it is one of the world's leading economies, was "particularly influenced by the high number of children living in families where no parent works."

Germany comes in at eight place, France is ranked 15th and Italy 19th.

The researchers stress the study is a "snapshot" rather than a trend, with the information for the study taken from the year 2006.

"Wellbeing draws in the many different factors which affect children's lives: including material conditions; housing and neighbourhoods; how children feel and do at school; their health; exposure to dangerous risks; and the quality of family and classmate relationships children develop," says the action group, explaining how it came to make its league table.

Different countries do well in different categories - Belgium is place number one for education, Sweden in first place for least risky behaviour (defined as early sexual intercourse, smoking and drug abuse) while Norway is number one for housing and environment.

At the other end of the scale, children in Malta are the most likely to consider themselves unhappy, while Lithuanian children are most likely to indulge in risky behaviour. Those in Romania score lowest in education (reading, maths and science scores plus enrolment), and Greek children lowest on health issues.

"We cannot afford a 'do nothing' budget for children," said CPAG chief executive Kate Green

"The report shows a clear link between high levels of child wellbeing and low levels of child poverty. If we fail to protect families during the downturn, progress on child wellbeing could go into reverse," she added.


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