Child wellbeing league table puts UK in 24th place in Europe

Posted on 22 April 2009

A league table of child wellbeing compiled by researchers at the University of York has placed the UK 24th out of 29 European countries.

The league table covered the 27 EU countries plus Norway and Iceland and includes 43 separate indicators, summarised in seven domains of child wellbeing. The research was published in the Journal of Child Indicators Research.

These findings are disappointing for the UK: they show how poorly we perform on child wellbeing, and how much better we should be able to do

Professor Jonathan Bradshaw

The Netherlands came top of the table of overall child wellbeing, followed by Norway and Sweden. The UK came well below countries of similar affluence – only Romania, Bulgaria, Latvia, Lithuania and Malta did worse.

Lead researcher Professor Jonathan Bradshaw, of the University of York’s Social Policy Research Unit, said: “These findings are disappointing for the UK: they show how poorly we perform on child wellbeing, and how much better we should be able to do. France has a similar GDP as the UK, yet ranks nine places higher.”

The data mostly comes from 2006 and provides a snapshot, rather than a trend. This three year time difference means that some Government policy initiatives may not yet fully show in the data (either because investment was not in place or because policies may take a while to become apparent in the data).

Professor Bradshaw added: “These figures should therefore be read as a criticism of UK society, but not necessarily of recent social policy. In general terms, the recent emphasis on the material circumstances of children, on education and health inequalities and of early intervention has been right and must continue over the long term: it is the dose which has been inadequate, not the medicine.”

It is the latest of a series of studies undertaken in the Social Policy Research Unit at the University of York on child well-being.

ENDS

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