Saturday, May 7, 2011

Best Country To Be a Mother? How 'bout Norway?

You'd think that a country as mommy-centric as the United States would not only top the worldwide ratings for motherhood, but that it would be No. 1 with a bullet. But the 1 in the number comes after the 3: No. 31 and dropping.

Our mommies rank behind nations in Eastern Europe where the living standard is a fraction of what we enjoy, but whose health care system includes everybody and where children's  and pregnant mothers' mortality rates are not as embarrassing as ours. Save the Children ranks the world's mothers annually.

According to the blog Babble, the U.S. ranks low partly because it is dead last among Tier I developed nations in maternal mortality at 1 in 2,100. Only the Russian Federation, Albania and Moldova were worse. A woman in the U.S. is seven times more likely than a woman in Italy or Ireland to die from pregnancy-related causes and she is in 15 times more danger than her Greek sister.

We’re weak in Under 5 mortality (8 per 1,000), ranking us right in there with Latvia, and making us half as safe as nine other industrial countries. In the U.S., 58 percent of children attend pre-school, fifth lowest in the developed world. Our maternity leave policy (duration and percent of wages paid) is the worst of any wealthy nation. Women’s representation in politics in the U.S. is similarly dismal (17 percent of congressional seats, while Sweden has 45 and Iceland 43).

No. 1 in the rankings is Norway, a socialist country that provides quality healthcare to mothers and children (and everybody else). The top of the list is dominated by countries that make certain their people have full access to health care all the time, regardless of their income.

Here is the list from Save the Children of the 43 Developed Nations included in the report State of the World’s Mothers. The list is based on a number of criteria, including women’s health and life expectancy,  educational, economic and political status, as well as children’s health and education. Specifically they looked at things like maternal mortality, maternity benefits, percentage of women using modern contraception, under-5 mortality rate and ratio of male to female earnings.
  1. Norway
  2. Australia
  3. Iceland
  4. Sweden
  5. Denmark
  6. New Zealand
  7. Finland
  8. Belgium
  9. Netherlands
  10. France
  11. Germany
  12. Spain
  13. United Kingdom
  14. Portugal
  15. Switzerland
  16. Ireland
  17. Slovenia
  18. Estonia
  19. Greece
  20. Canada
  21. Italy
  22. Hungary
  23. Lithuania
  24. Czech Republic
  25. Latvia
  26. Austria
  27. Croatia
  28. Japan
  29. Poland
  30. Slovakia
  31. United States
  32. Luxembourg
  33. Belarus
  34. Malta
  35. Bulgaria
  36. Romania
  37. Serbia
  38. Russian federation
  39. Ukraine
  40. Moldova
  41. Bosnia and Herzegovina
  42. Macedonia
  43. Albania
The bottom end includes these destitute countries: Central African Republic,  Sudan, Mali, Eritrea, DR Congo, Chad, Yeman, Guinea-Bissau, Niger and Afghanistan. that's a Who's Who of poverty, war and deprivation.

(Photo: Norwegian Institute for Public Health.)

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