Monday, November 26, 2007

Status of Children in the U.S. (pt 1)

The Foundation for Child Development publishes an annual report of child well being across the United States, as well as a fascinating comparison of the U.S. with the U.K, Australia, Canada and New Zealand (other English-speaking industrialized countries). Two key findings:

1) Wealthy states can hide pockets of significant child poverty by having higher averages that mask inner-city problems. It is important to look at internal statistics, not just state-state comparisons when making policy decisions or distributing resources.

2) Although no other country does better than the U.S. across the board, there are significant weaknesses in our treatment of children, particularly children's health.

The report finds:

* The percent of households without an employed adult is lower in the United States than in all comparison countries. However, poverty rates are higher in the United States than in all comparison countries.

* Canada, Australia, New Zealand and the United Kingdom have better outcomes than the United States in the Health domain. Relatively high rates of infant mortality and children who are overweight and obese disadvantage the United States in this domain.

* Teen birth rates in Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand are lower than in the United States. This indicator is a key figure in the Safety/Behavioral Concerns domain.

* The United States has a relatively high proportion of young adults who complete high school and obtain baccalaureate degrees. However, the proportion of children who attend preschool is lower in the United States than in all countries except the United Kingdom.

* 15-year old American students scored lower in mathematics and reading than their counterparts in all comparison countries on internationally administered standardized tests, leading to a last place finish in the Educational Attainment domain.

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