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Netherlands Tops UNICEF Ranking On Child Well-Being

The Netherlands has been ranked first in a United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) report released Wednesday on children's well-being in 29 industrialized countries, followed by Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden.

While Britain was ranked 16th and the United States 26th in the list, Greece, Italy, Portugal, Spain and Romania were at the bottom. The rankings are part of a UNESCO study entitled 'Report Card 11: Child well-being in rich countries,' which charts the achievements of the world's most advanced economies from 2000-2010.

The study found that child poverty in these countries is particularly susceptible to government policies. The document also warned against measures that cut services and protection to children, as they are a highly vulnerable part of the population.

UNICEF noted while releasing the report that the current findings show progress. Nevertheless, the UN agency cautioned that the study was carried out before many countries implemented austerity measures and budget cuts because of the economic crisis.

"Whether in today's time of economic crisis, or in better financial periods, UNICEF urges governments and social partners to place children and young people at the heart of their decision-making processes," said the Director of UNICEF's Office of Research, Gordon Alexander.

"For every new policy measure considered or introduced, governments explicitly have to explore the impact and effects on children, families with children, adolescents and young adults. These groups do not have a voice in the political processes or their voices are too seldom heard," he added.

The study measures development according to five dimensions of children's lives: material well-being, health and safety, education, behavior and risks, and housing and environment. In addition, indicators like teenage fertility rate, alcohol abuse rate and exposure to violence were also used to measure child well-being.

UNICEF noted that these dimensions are not entirely dependent on a country's wealth, as the study did not find a strong relationship between income per capital and overall child well-being. The study also included the views of the children themselves on their own life satisfaction.

by RTTNews Staff Writer

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