Children in rich countries: One in five lives in poverty
One in five children lives in relative poverty even in rich countries. A recent UNICEF report revealed well-developed nations like the US and New Zealand were among the worst performers for the well-being of youth. 13% of children in such countries don't have access to sufficient safe and nutritious food; the number has increased to 20% in the UK and US.
The UNICEF Innocenti Research Centre issued the latest 'Report Card', which calls for greater focus on disadvantaged sections in rich nations. The Research Centre's Director, Sarah Cook, said higher incomes don't lead to improved outcomes for youth and may deepen inequalities. She added, "Governments in all countries need to take action to ensure the gaps are reduced and progress is made."
The report is the first to assess the status of children in 41 high-income nations in relation to the most important SDGs (Sustainable Development Goals) for their well-being. The report named 'Building the Future: Children and the Sustainable Development Goals in Rich Countries' ranks countries according to their performance and describes the opportunities and challenges they face in achieving commitments to children.
The UNICEF 'Report Card' took into account several factors such as physical and mental health, education, alcohol abuse, the environment, and economic opportunities to rank the high-income nations for overall well-being for youth.
Germany and the Nordic nations topped the list while Romania, Bulgaria, and Chile were at the bottom. New Zealand and the US were ranked 34th and 37th respectively. The US relatively had low numbers in terms of poverty, hunger, health, education and inequality. Even in best performing nations like Japan and Finland, one-fifth of 15-year-olds don't reach baseline educational standards.
The performance of New Zealand was poor especially in terms of adolescent mental health. It had the world's highest suicide rate for people aged between 15 and 19; the numbers were almost thrice the average of all the nations surveyed. The study reported that the number of adolescents suffering from mental health issues is on the rise in most countries.
On hunger, the report stated that one in eight children in rich nations faces food insecurity on an average. About 14% of adults in 17 high-income countries believe boys deserve preference for university education. Also, the rate of obesity among youngsters witnessed a spike. On the other hand, rates of neonatal mortality, teenage pregnancy, adolescent suicide, and alcohol abuse have declined.