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Despite its wealth, U.S. just average in terms of how kids fare

Posted July 28

When Save the Children compared child well-being in 19 wealthy countries, American kids came in at the middle of the pack. (Deseret Photo)

America has the world's biggest economy, but eight other countries outperform it when it comes to how well children fare, according to Save the Children's annual Child Prosperity Index.

"Children born in 2016, the Chinese year of the monkey, are said to be playful, clever and curious. A wonderful combination for any child. Yet, the lives and opportunities for these children depend critically on the choices made by our political and economic leaders," said the report, which was released in advance of the September G20 Summit.

German kids came in first, as they did last year. They were No. 1 on gender, income and employment. Next in the index were France and Japan (best in health).

The United States also falls behind Australia, Canada (best on education), the United Kingdom (tops in infrastructure and safety), the Republic of Korea and Italy. Brazil was first in environment, the other measure, but it ranked No. 17 overall. India comes in last place on the index of the 19 wealthiest nations, which along with the European Union make up the 20 wealthiest economies.

The United States' only top-five ranking was for income, at No. 5. Its lowest ranking was for environment, coming in at No. 15. It was No. 7 for education, infrastructure and employment, No. 10 for safety, No. 11 for gender and No. 12 for health, bringing it in at No. 9 overall.

Bill Corwin, vice president of Save the Children USA, told USA Today that "children in poorer communities suffer most from the nation's income inequality. 'The U.S. really needs to make sure every child benefits from the economic growth of the country.'"

Corwin told the national newspaper that "the most critical time for a child to develop into 'a learner' and 'someone who is going to benefit from education' is in the first three to five years of life. So, support and services for children and their families must be available before they enter kindergarten."

The report says the G20 or Group of 20 "was formed in 1999 as a meeting of finance ministers. In the wake of the Global Financial Crisis, it was elevated to a Leaders’ Summit in 2008. The G20 account for 85 percent of the global economy (whereas the G7 economies account for one third). The G20 is therefore the right place to talk about the inclusive economic growth and prosperity for the world’s children."

The report calls on G20 leaders to provide what it calls "three guarantees for children": making finances fair, providing equal treatment for children across economic, social and other barriers, and ensuring accountability by measuring factors like income inequality and child poverty.

Other countries on the list below the United States are Turkey, China, Russia, Argentina, Mexico, Saudi Arabia, Indonesia and South Africa.

Email: lois@deseretnews.com, Twitter: Loisco

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