Countries Where Children Have the Best Opportunities

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10. United Kingdom
> Pct. reporting children can thrive: 88% (tied-8th most)
> GDP per capita: $37,299
> Population: 63.8 million

Children may thrive in the U.K. partly because of its quality education system. The graduation rate among older U.K. secondary students was more than 91% in 2010, substantially better than the OECD average of 84%. That year, U.K. graduates were also more likely to continue their education at tertiary institutions in 2010. Also in that year, 38% of U.K. graduates continued their education at tertiary institutions, more than in most other developed nations. In UNICEF’s most recent report, the U.K. ranked a relatively low 16th out of 29 developed countries in children’s well-being. While the ranking implies there’s room for improvement, it’s considerably better than its ranking in UNICEF’s previous report. For example, less children lived in poverty in 2012 compared to 2011.

9. Czech Republic
> Pct. reporting children can thrive: 88% (tied-8th most)
> GDP per capita: $27,214
> Population: 10.5 million

The Czech Republic joined the European Union in 2004, and it may be on track to adopt the euro in the next few years. The country, however, is still quite poor, with GDP per capita at just $27,214 in 2013. The U.S.’s GDP per capita, by contrast, was more than $50,000 last year. Additionally, not even 60% of Czech residents felt safe walking alone at night in 2012, among the least compared with other developed nations. Despite the lack of wealth and some safety concerns, 88% of Czech respondents to Gallup’s survey said they believed children in their country had chances to learn and grow every day, tied with Canada and the U.K. Czech school systems provide a good education, according to 2012 Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) scores. That year, Czech students had better reading and science scores than U.S. students, as well several European countries.

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8. Canada
> Pct. reporting children can thrive: 88% (tied-8th most)
> GDP per capita: $43,146
> Population: 35.2 million

Roughly 88% of respondents in Canada believed their children had everyday opportunities to learn and grow. On top of that, 84% thought children in their country were well-treated, more than in all but three other nations. Canadians largely believe their country is safe, with 84% telling Gallup in 2012 that they felt secure walking alone at night. In the U.S. just 74% of respondents felt that way. Parents also had opportunities to provide an education for their children. According to the OECD, more than half of adults 25-64 years old had a tertiary-level education as of 2010, the highest percentage of any nation. The nation’s economy also has strengthened, with recent IMF forecasts projecting higher GDP growth rates in both 2014 and 2015.

7. Ireland
> Pct. reporting children can thrive: 89% (tied-6th most)
> GDP per capita: $41,265
> Population: 4.6 million

After three years, Ireland recently exited the more-than $100 billion bailout it received to ward off bankruptcy during the eurozone crisis. As part of the bailout, Ireland had to agree to budgetary demands established by the Troika: the IMF, European Central Bank, and European Commission. However, despite the country’s economic troubles, prospects for children’s quality of life appears to have been little affected. According to Gallup, most Irish residents thought their country provides opportunities for children to learn and grow. UNICEF rated the country 10th for children’s well-being among wealthy nations, citing the quality of the housing and environment. Despite this, many younger residents still choose to leave the country, often due to economic factors.

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6. Iceland
> Pct. reporting children can thrive: 89% (tied-6th most)
> GDP per capita: $40,739
> Population: 300,000

Iceland was one of the first nations to suffer from the global economic crisis. Since then, Iceland’s unemployment rate has declined to just 5.4% in 2013, according to Eurostat, and the country may be on its way to recovery. According to the IMF, real GDP is expected to grow by more than 2% in 2014. Even with lingering effects from the recession, the vast majority of Icelanders did not self-report to be suffering in 2012. In fact, just 1% of survey respondents said they suffered that year, less than any country reviewed by Gallup. Icelandic children also benefit from a well-funded education system. Iceland invested 8% of the country’s GDP in educational institutions in 2010, more than any other country in the OECD.