The USA ranks ninth among the world’s 19 wealthiest nations in terms of overall child well-being – despite having the world’s largest economy, according to a Save the Children report released Friday.
The Child Prosperity Index looks at indicators in eight areas affecting children around the world, including health, education, income, safety, employment, gender equality, infrastructure and the environment.
The report is being released ahead of the G20 Summit in China this September. G20 is a meeting of leaders from 20 of the world’s largest economies, including the European Union, to discuss issues in the global economy.
Across the G20 nations, Germany’s children are most well off, followed by France and Japan. The U.S. lags behind, scoring below average in environment, health and gender equality, according to the report.
Though the index doesn’t directly include child poverty data, it does stress that the prevalence of the issue in many high income countries.
Bill Corwin, vice president of Save the Children USA, says 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,” he told USA TODAY.
Twenty-two percent of American children are living below the poverty line. Julia Isaacs, expert in child and family policy at the Urban Institute, says that has negative impact on children’s education.
Many U.S. children are attending school but are not necessarily getting a quality education, according to the index. The study found that the U.S. is outranked by China, Korea, Japan, Canada, Germany, Australia, the U.K. and France on education.
About 65% of fourth graders in public school were reading below the proficiency level in 2015, according to a report by The Annie E. Casey Foundation.
Tanya Weinberg, director of media and communications at Save the Children USA, says every indicator in the index circles back to a child’s opportunity to be on a level playing field when it comes to education. “We’re not going to break the cycle of poverty if we don’t reach the marginalized children with better education opportunities,” she said.
Corwin says 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, he said.
SOURCE: Karina Shedrofsky