The United States is the wealthiest large economy in the world. Yet, for some reason, we can't seem to find a way to invest in our nation's children.
A new UNICEF paper, Child Well-Being in Rich Countries, looks at how wealthy countries are raising their children. It examines "children’s well-being in terms of material conditions (related to household-income levels); health and safety; education; risky behavior (such as excessive alcohol consumption); and physical environment, including housing conditions."
Surprisingly, the United States ranks 26 out of 29 countries.
Professor Jeffrey D. Sachs writes in the Project Syndicate:
The gaps between the northern European countries and the U.S. are the most telling. Northern European countries generally provide cash support to families to ensure that all children are raised in decent conditions, and they undertake ambitious social programs to provide high-quality day care, pre-school, and primary and secondary education. Moreover, all children are well covered by effective health-care systems.
The U.S., with its individualist, free-market ideology, is very different. There is little cash support for families. Government programs supposedly provide a social safety net, but politicians are, in fact, largely indifferent to the well-being of the poor, because poor voters turn out in lower numbers and do not finance America’s expensive election campaigns. Indeed, the evidence strongly suggests that U.S. politicians tend to listen and respond only to their richer constituents. The so-called safety net has suffered accordingly, as have America’s poor.
Children living in poverty is exactly the reason why working families all over the United States are working toward raising the minimum wage, extending paid sick days to all workers and giving people a voice on the job.
Read the rest of Suffer the Children, Suffer the Country.