Family Issues

UNICEF: The U.S. Ain't the Kind of Place to Raise Your Kids

|

NPR isn't afraid to tell it to us straight:

A new report from the U.N. Children's Fund says the United States and Britain are the worst countries in the industrialized world in which to be a child. UNICEF says an examination of 40 factors, such as poverty, deprivation, happiness, relationships, and risky or bad behavior puts the United States and Britain at the bottom of a list of 21 economically developed nations.

………The United States fared worst of all 21 countries in health and safety, measured by rates of infant mortality and accidents and injuries.

Some doubts about the comparison of U.S. infant mortality stats with the rest of the developed world here. And perhaps our 15 year olds, as degenerate as they are, (the surveyed age group for most of the following categories) might not agree with UNICEF's counting the following against our great nation:

The United States and Britain were lowest overall in the category of behavior and risks, meaning that American and British children are more likely to use drugs, drink alcohol and be sexually active than children elsewhere.

The full UNICEF report [PDF].

Nick Gillespie's 1997 Reason classic on the true, and nifty, status of the kids in America. 

NEXT: Will the "Weirdness Factor" Sink Rudy G?

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. That’s probably incorrect. While some of America is not a decent place to live, for parts of the country that’s not true.

  2. Those differences in counting live births don’t seem to account for more than a fraction of the differenc.

    Tip for political junkies: When someone trying to debunk the statement “A is less than than B” asserts that, under their alternate way of calculating the numbers, “A is similar to B,” that means that A is still less than B.

  3. Hard to believe that American kids have alcohol more available than German, French or Spanish kids. Hopefully the availabilty of sex hasn’t been lost because an ocean separates them from us. For drugs, try Holland.

  4. But, we libertarians don’t care anyway because our motto is let them starve in the streets.

  5. The way the UN rates things, if Chad, Somalia & Zimbabwe had been included, the US would have been #23 and Britain #24.

  6. Why do you hate UNICEF?

  7. I don’t hate UNICEF; I hate the children.

  8. This is hard to believe, what with all the laws we’ve passed for the children.

  9. FROM THE REPORT:

    “We’ve failed to invest in child health, in child education, in child care,” Bradshaw says.

    Let me get this straight…

    A libertarian rag that revels in how we’ve sucked at these very things for quite some time finally has a report confirming this delivered by – of all sources – UNICEF…and now suddenly the attitude is, “don’t dis the u.s.”?

    Typical

  10. We should translate this report into Spanish and blanket Mexico with copies! That’ll keep the illegals out!

    As far as poorer countries faring better, I suspect that kids who are busy working to keep their families from starving are less likely to get involved with drugs, alcohol, and sex.

    Professor Jonathan Bradshaw from the University of York in England led the research into the project. He was scathing about the failures of successive British governments. “We’ve failed to invest in child health, in child education, in child care,” Bradshaw says. “It’s the result of neglect, which other countries have not done? they’ve just spent more on their children, despite the fact they’re not as rich as we are.”

    Sounds like he wasn’t biased at all going into the study, doesn’t it?

  11. madpad,

    We suck at those things because of too much govt involvement, not due to too little (as the report insinuates). Furthermore, I would agree that we shouldn’t dis the US; it may not be a libertarian paradise, but it is the freest nation on earth.

  12. Sounds like he wasn’t biased at all going into the study, doesn’t it?

    NO! You are! Who is paying you?

  13. Surprisingly, one of the biggest hits that the US takes is on “material well-being”. The major component of this index is relative poverty, that is, the percentage of children living in a household with below the nation’s median income. Thus, Hungary scores better than the US in this category, despite the fact that its median income is $7,000 compared to $24,000 in the US. So a Hungarian child growing up in a family bringing in $10,000 a year is materially better off than an American child in a family making twice as much.

    Got it?

  14. “we’re the kids in America! (oh whoa ho)”!

    Hard to believe that American kids have alcohol more available than German, French or Spanish kids. Hopefully the availabilty of sex hasn’t been lost because an ocean separates them from us. For drugs, try Holland.

    How so hard to believe? they have access to alcohol, but use it responsibly (at that age at least)… while we regulate it more strongly, creating a social taboo that teens naturally turned into rituals of communal drunkenness.

    Our puritan instinct is exactly what promotes a stronger degree of degredation. In Am-dam, there are clearly junkies in streets at times and places, but their very presence in the city partly repels the natives from uptake of their own liberal laws towards intoxicants. All the Dutch i ever spoke to there were pretty bored by the drug scene, but tolerant of it the way we are of vulgar or agressive people.

  15. crimethink, “Surprisingly” isn’t the word I’d use. This is a UNICEF study. Why be surprised by a hatchet job on the slightly more capitalistic countries?

  16. American and British children are more likely to use drugs, drink alcohol and be sexually active than children elsewhere.

    That’s actually not in the report; the US ranked among the lowest percentage using tobacco or alcohol, and for some reason wasn’t included in the rankings for sexual behavior. It was highest in cannabis usage and teen pregnancy rates (though the latter goes all the way up to 19 years old, a popular technique used to inflate such stats).

  17. I suspect we got ranked last in the categories where we weren’t surveyed; in the risk behavior, the only category in which the US did badly was cannabis usage, yet we would up near the bottom in the category rankings.

  18. Surprisingly, one of the biggest hits that the US takes is on “material well-being”. The major component of this index is relative poverty, that is, the percentage of children living in a household with below the nation’s median income. Thus, Hungary scores better than the US in this category, despite the fact that its median income is $7,000 compared to $24,000 in the US. So a Hungarian child growing up in a family bringing in $10,000 a year is materially better off than an American child in a family making twice as much.

    Do poor kids in Hungary have cable?

  19. So a mostly free-market helathcare system and a totaly socalist one rank at the bottom. Something other then the “system” accounts for the higher infant mortality.

  20. Of course, Russia ans the Eastern European countries are the best places for tall lanky young women when guys with US dollars are milling about.

  21. A new report from the U.N. Children’s Fund says the United States and Britain are the worst countries in the industrialized world in which to be a child.

    As someone who’s been to several other countries in the industrialized world. That doesn’t even pass the laugh test.

  22. Sorry, joe. When someone shows me statistics that show that the infant mortality rate in a wholly corrupt and bankrupt country that prominently features health care statistics in its propaganda (read: Cuba) is higher than in the US where even the poorest mother’s 24 week-old preemie stands a good chance of survival, I am going to doubt the data gathering first and foremost. Communism especially and socialism in general have consistently underdelivered in every category in every country in the world where comparable comparisons can be made. It would be truly odd to attribute these superior numbers to socialized medicine, when their historical superiority with falsehood is a far more likely explanation.

  23. Props to GILMORE for the Kim Wilde reference.

    Kevin

  24. Rimfax,

    Don’t be fooled into thinking that joe will be “fooled” by your blatant attempt to explain away those numbers. The experts at UNICEF understand the world better than the rest of us laymen ever could. Didn’t you hear that they are EXPERTS? Those numbers were gathered by UNICEF EXPERTS whose bias should never be questioned and whose authority must never be challenged.

    What were you thinking, man?!?

    (For the record, Warren nailed it at 10:22 pm.)

  25. “When someone trying to debunk the statement ‘A is less than than B’ asserts that, under their alternate way of calculating the numbers, ‘A is similar to B,’ that means that A is still less than B.” – joe

    Of course, if you’re the one massaging the numbers to get the false, partisan conclusion you’re looking for, then sometimes actually looking at the numbers more closely reveals something contradictory to the “A is less than B” claim.

    For example, when someone (like joe) claims that the majority of the Democratic members of Congress voted against the Resolution to authorize military force against Iraq is countered by someone (like me) who points out that a majority of Dems in the Senate voted FOR it, it shows you to be incorrect about at least one of the two chambers of Congress. Further examination of the numbers shows a relatively slim margin between House members who voted FOR and those who voted AGAINST, which certainly sheds more light on the state of the Democratic Party than certain partisans are comfortable with. (The fact that Repubs voted in lock-step isn’t my idea of a good thing, either, because I certainly don’t believe they did so out of noble principle but for political gain.)

    Just because you aren’t blatantly lying when you make a claim that – on the face of it – the numbers seem to support, it doesn’t mean that you aren’t guilty of shamelessly manipulating the numbers to prop up a false conclusion: namely that a significant majority of the Democratic Party opposed the Resolution and that this proves that the Dems were right on Iraq all along.

    Manipulating the numbers like, for example, lumping both chambers of Congressional votes together when the House has many more members, making it an apples to oranges comparison.

    Tellingly, only ONE of the FIVE Democrats who are currently presidential hopefuls voted against the Resolution, and it’s not like Dennis Kucinich has a snowball’s chance in hell of winning the nomination against the other 4 who voted FOR the Resolution (Biden, Clinton, etc.)

    Sorry for the thread-jack, but joe is really working over-time on this one… Running to another thread and making references about the thread you’ve just gotten pummeled on is just plain WEAK.

  26. Or, for an example that brings me back to the topic of the thread: UNICEF manipulating the numbers to reach conclusions that are so blatantly false as to be a source of amusement…

  27. NPR isn’t afraid to tell it to us straight

    BTW, great line Brian.

  28. This report is more about being poor in America, vs. being poor in, say, a Scandanavian country with cradle-to-grave welfare benefits. When looking at the report this way, the conclusions, as ridiculously broad and vague as they are (considering the NPR taglien for the report– which I heard this morning) one could at least partially understand the conclusion, even if one disagreed it.

    To suggest that kids fitting into the lower-middle classes on up get a raw deal as compared to other developed nations? Color me skeptical.

  29. It’s George Bush’s fault. His war against the friendly, unassuming Iraqis has taken up all the money that might otherwise have been spent on “the children”. If the Supreme court had not stolen the election in 2000, we would not have this child abusing, inconvenient truth to deal with. Al Gore won the popular vote.

  30. Yet another argument for ending foreign aid (we’re the ones that need help, apparently). Thanks, U.N.!

  31. In the UK where I live this report has created an intelligent national debate about why we are failing our children. The US is nearly as bad and yet the comments about on on here are mostly glib, jingoistic bullshit from brainless American college students. What a sad bunch you are over the pond, no wonder you kids are so screwed up.

  32. The report examines only industrialized countries: no Cuba, no Zambia, no Haiti. It seems a fair comparison to me. To dismiss it on a purely jingoistic basis is out of place.

    kids fitting into the lower-middle classes on up get a raw deal as compared to other developed nations

    That was the point of the report, I guess. And it does not seem that far-fetched.

  33. the percentage of children living in a household with below the nation’s median income.
    Since half the population of any country is below the median income (by definition) that percentage of children would generally be very close to 50 for each country.

    Something other then the “system” accounts for the higher infant mortality.
    Demographics – but PC-ness precludes mentioning it. The “white” infant mortality rate in the US is about the same as the white infant mortality rate in the best countries in the report. (Same thing for educational achievement, BTW).
    http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm5127a1.htm#tab1

    The report’s socialist definition of a government’s role in peoples’ lives was interesting:
    “The infant mortality rate (IMR) is a standard indicator of child health 5 and reflects a basic provision of the Convention on the Rights of the Childwhich calls on all countries ‘to ensure the child’s enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of health, including by diminishing infant and child mortality’.

  34. F.Le Mur, I think more than half of the population of children in the US would be below the median income owing to:

    1. Older people have more money.
    2. Poor people have more kids.

  35. Lars,

    You so nailed us. I am so ashamed. I’ll totter off to my underwater basketweaving and beer bong making class now.

    rob,

    I think that you missed the point about who is cooking the books, so to speak. While some folks at UNICEF are very likely like Lars and are revelling in any data that makes the US and the UK look bad, I seriously doubt that they are cherry picking numbers.

    The far more likely cause is that the countries with socialized medicine have significant political pressure on the hospitals to select policies that “improve” their numbers regardless of any actual improvements in care. I don’t think that this is any kind of dishonesty on anyone’s part. I think that it is an indirect effect of misguided reward systems. To some degree, the same effects can be seen to a lesser degree in the US when Medicare and Medicaid influence the health care system.

  36. Median just means “the middle value”, as opposed to average which is the sum over the count of values. The mean of { 1, 2, 9, 10, 13 } is 9. The average is 7.

    So, the percentage below the median really tells you nothing meaningful about your population other than whether your distribution is more bottom heavy than another. It is essentially meaningless.

  37. I find it hard to believe that the UN can conclude that a teenager in America with access to drugs, sex and booze is “worse off.” I didn’t have access to those things in high school and my peers all concluded that I was worse off.

  38. “Running to another thread and making references about the thread you’ve just gotten pummeled on is just plain WEAK.”

    Then why did you?

    And please, Rob, don’t lecture us on math.

  39. So this means, doesn’t it, that the UN will be pulling up stakes in New York so as to no longer subject the children of diplomats to the indecencies and poverty of life as a kid in the United States?

  40. Rimfax,

    Cuba? Where? I didn’t see anything about Cuba in the report.

    Anyway, it would be nice if you had something other that your feelings to add to the debate.

    Anything on the methodology? Anything on the link that addresses the different methods of counting live births?

    No?

    Didn’t think so.

  41. joe buddy,
    Snide remarks don’t “add to the debate” either.

  42. I know, I shouldn’t rise to the bait.

    A lot of people launch personal attacks on for the sin of disagreeing with them, and it’s difficult to always take the high road.

  43. Well….well….Europe is bad for adults. Take that, commies!

  44. The US out of the UN. The UN out of the US.

  45. Joe sez: “A lot of people launch personal attacks on for the sin of disagreeing with them, and it’s difficult to always take the high road.”

    must…not…let…head…explode :^)

  46. “The US out of the UN. The UN out of the US.”

    We’ll show the world that we can do everything unilaterally. There aren’t any drawbacks either, except that all of our dictionaries have replaced the word “success” with “unilateral.”

  47. A useless appendage such as the UN is not required for a nation to act multilaterally.

    Far as I can tell, the UN has become little more than a dumping ground for playboy elites from the Third World, as well as a circle-jerk party for pretentious NGOs. That real estate in Manhattan could be put to far more productive use in private hands.

  48. joe,

    That was a cute little conversation you just had with me all by yourself. Can you juggle, too?

    Anyways, I wasn’t referring to this report in my Cuba reference. I was referring to the legendary claim that serves as an obvious precursor to this report that has been circulating for well over 20 years that Cuba is a far better place for children and has a much lower infant mortality rate. I apologize for giving you the benefit of the doubt. I’ll try not to overestimate your intelligence again.

    I’ll also be much more likely to actually get my feelings hurt by your jibes about references when you provide one.

  49. Whatever.

    “Far as I can tell, the UN has become little more than a dumping ground for playboy elites from the Third World, as well as a circle-jerk party for pretentious NGOs.”

    The UN is effective to the extent that the United States picks it up and uses it as a tool to advance our foreign policy goals. Otherwise, it does some good church-lady type work, but doesn’t do much of major political importance.

    Look at the American/French resolution about the Syrians in Lebanon, then tell me the UN is useless.

  50. “A lot of people launch personal attacks on for the sin of disagreeing with them, and it’s difficult to always take the high road.” – joe

    I’d say that you taking the high road is a rare enough occurence with most of the people you engage on these boards that your complaints certainly generate surprise and laughter (ESPECIALLY coming from you).

    And joe, as for not lecturing you on math, you’re the guy who thinks that 8% more than half of all Democrats shows a significant majority in your party that proves your political point. Puh-leeze! You should watch the pot more carefully when you’re cooking the numbers, otherwise it boils over and ruins your credibility. (Then again, I guess that worrying about your credibility at this late date is like a former president trying to reform his “legacy” once he’s out of office – all the revisionism one can muster can’t save a ruined reputation.)

  51. “The UN is effective to the extent that the United States picks it up and uses it as a tool to advance our foreign policy goals. Otherwise, it does some good church-lady type work, but doesn’t do much of major political importance.” – joe

    That’s the first reasonable thing I can remember reading from joe in weeks. In fact, I can’t imagine a more accurate depiction of the organization’s utility. Well done!

    However, that doesn’t mean that ChrisO’s evaluation of the UN isn’t ALSO correct, tho he kindly omitted the rampant corruption in the organization: “Far as I can tell, the UN has become little more than a dumping ground for playboy elites from the Third World, as well as a circle-jerk party for pretentious NGOs.”

    It’s not an either/or situation, IMO.

    “Look at the American/French resolution about the Syrians in Lebanon, then tell me the UN is useless.” – joe

    Well, if you insist: “The UN is useless.”

    I mean, let’s face it, if it hadn’t been the US and France doing the pushing, the UN resolution would have been (like most UN resolutions) so toothless as to be utterly pointless.

  52. so what are the other explanations for why two countries, both industrialized and both with different approaches to healthcare (one mostly-state, one semi-private) have such high infant mortality rates? (i don’t know one way or the other)

  53. rob,

    16%, you twit. When the majority gets 58% of the vote, the minority doesn’t get 50%. My god, are you really this stupid? It’s second grade subtraction!

  54. 50% would be half of the vote. When you get 58% of the vote, that’s 8% more than 50% – hence 8% more than half of all total voters.

    Even if you look at it from the “16-point spread” perspectictive, it’s not a big spread. It doesn’t show that your pet party is the party of principle on this issue by any common sense standard.

    Maybe a 16-point spread would be something to crow about in an election – but it’s damn sure nothing to crow about WITHIN A SINGLE PARTY.

    You understand exactly what I am saying, you just refuse to concede the point under any circumstance so you’re trying to make out like I’m too stupid to comprehend the numbers.

    You’re pathetic.

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.