UNICEF: Dutch children are happiest in the world

Children in the Netherlands are the happiest in the world, according to a new report released by UNICEF. The Netherlands, along with four Nordic countries – Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden – top a United Nations report released April 10, which ranks children’s well-being in 29 industrialized countries, while Greece, Italy, Portugal and Spain are at the bottom.

Five dimensions of children’s lives

The Child Well-Being in Rich Countries: A Comparative Overview, the second report of this kind done by UNICEF, covers children up to age 19. The Netherlands also ranked first in the first UNICEF report, released in 2007. That report looked at a variety of indicators in areas ranging from health to education using data from 2000 to 2003. The 2013 report looks at figures from 2009 to 2010.

The study measures development according to five dimensions of children’s lives – material well-being, health and safety, education, behaviour and risks, and housing and environment. The study does not find a strong relationship between per capita GDP and overall child well-being. For instance, Slovenia ranks higher than Canada, the Czech Republic higher than Austria, and Portugal higher than the United States of America.

The Netherlands retains its position as the clear leader and is the only country ranked among the top five countries in all dimensions of child well-being. The Netherlands is also the clear leader when well-being is evaluated by children themselves – with 95% of its children rating their own lives above the mid- point of the Life Satisfaction Scale according to Unicef.

This is the second time Dutch children ranked happiest in the world. A previous study by UN Children UNICEF carried out in 2007, Dutch kids also ranked the happiest of all children in the world.

Top 10 rankings of well-being of children in developed countries

1 Netherlands

2 Norway

3 Iceland

4 Finland

5 Sweden

6 Germany

7 Luxembourg

8 Switzerland

9 Belgium

10 Ireland

UNICEF says that it is important to hear what matters to children, and to do this in a more systematic way. “Children’s voices even at a very young age are vital,” said Mr. Alexander. According to him, “Governments need to guide policies in a way that will safeguard the long-term futures of their children and economies. This has never been more urgent than in today’s climate."

Source: Unicef.org