Norway Ranks as Best Country to be a Mom; U.S. 25th in the World, New Report Finds

Norway Ranks as Best Country in the World in Which to be a Mother The Save the Children foundation has published its 13th annual “State of the World’s Mothers Report,” which compares and ranks 165 countries around the world in terms of the Best and Worst Places to Be a Mom.

This year’s report, which was issued on May 9, 2012, found Norway to be the Best Place in the World to be a Mom, for the third year in a row.

The U.S. placed 25th in the world, up six places in the ranking since last year (when the U.S. placed 31st in the world).

The report found Niger to be the worst place in the world to be a mother, replacing Afghanistan in last place for the first time in two years.

The rankings were determined on the basis of “factors such as a mother’s health, education and economic status, as well as critical child indicators such as health and nutrition,” according to the Save the Children foundation, a non-profit organization.

“The annual Mothers’ Index evaluates the status of women’s health, nutrition, education, economic well-being and political participation to rank 165 countries – both in the industrialized and developing world – to show where mothers and children fare best and where they face the greatest hardships,” the report states.

“More than 90 years of experience on the ground have shown us that when mothers have health care, education and economic opportunity, both they and their children have the best chance to survive and thrive,” explains Dr. Carolyn Miles, President and CEO of Save the Children USA, in an introduction to the report.

The 2012 annual State of the World’s Mothers Report is available for free download in PDF format from the website of the Save the Children foundation.

Following is a PBS NewsHour report, in which PBS’ Gwen Ifill and Save the Children President Carolyn Miles discuss the rankings of the best and worst countries at creating healthy children and mothers »


 

The Best and Worst Country Rankings

Following are the five Best and the five Worst Country rankings, according to the Save the Children foundation’s 2012 State of the World’s Mothers Report:

The 5 Best Countries in which to be a Mom are:

  1. Norway
  2. Iceland
  3. Sweden
  4. New Zealand
  5. Denmark

The 5 Worst Countries (out of 165) in which to be a Mom are:

  • 161. Mali
  • 162. Guinea-Bissau
  • 163. Yemen
  • 164. Afghanistan
  • 165. Niger

Norway – The No. 1 Best Country in the World in Which to be a Mom

For the third year in a row, Norway has placed Number One as the Best and healthiest country in the world in which to be a Mother. Norway has one of the most generous maternity-leave policies among the developed nations of the world.

The report states that in Norway:

“After giving birth, mothers can take up to 36 weeks off work with 100 percent of their pay, or they may opt for 46 weeks with 80 percent pay (or less if the leave period is shared with the father). In addition, Norwegian law provides for up to 12 months of additional child care leave, which can be taken by both fathers and mothers. When they return to work, mothers have the right to nursing breaks as they need them.”

In addition, the extent of contraceptive use in Norway is one of the highest in the world, providing women a means of control over their own reproductive health and freedom to participate in the workforce.

Women in Norway are highly educated, and a significant proportion of high positions in the Norwegian government are held by women. Equal pay for equal work is more than an empty slogan in Norway. In fact, Norway has the highest female-to-male income ratio in the world, according to the report.

In addition, Norway’s under-5 child mortality rate is the second-lowest among developed countries.

The U.S. Ranking – 25th in the World

The U.S. has improved in its ranking since last year, climbing from 31st to 25th best place in the world to be a Mother. The improvement in the U.S. ranking is due mainly to improvements in levels of female education, which already were high. Still, however, this means that the U.S. places between Belarus and the Czech Republic, neither of which is considered a developed country.

Sadly, the U.S. places far below other developed countries in many important health measures. For example, the maternal death rate in the U.S. is the highest of any industrialized nation. The risk of dying in childbirth in the U.S. is 1 per 2,100 births. This means that U.S. women are seven times more likely to die from pregnancy than women in Italy or Ireland.

The infant mortality rate for children under 5 in the U.S. is 8 per 1,000 births, meaning that the U.S. ranks below 40 other countries in our infant mortality rate.

The U.S. has one of the least generous maternity leave policies of any developed nation, according to the report. The U.S. is the only developed country, and one of only a handful of countries worldwide, that does not guarantee paid leave for working mothers, the report notes.

According to U.S. law, new mothers are entitled to 12 weeks of unpaid maternity leave — compared to Norway, where by law women can choose 36 weeks with 100 percent of their pay or 46 weeks with 80 percent pay, plus in either case an optional additional 12 months without pay, as quoted from the report above.

The Save the Children foundation advocates that the U.S. government, and other industrialized countries, should work to improve education initiatives, health care, and nutrition for mothers and children. Especial focus should be placed on improving these conditions for disadvantaged mothers and their children, the foundation urges.

“Investing in this most basic partnership of all — between a mother and her child — is the first and best step in ensuring healthy children, prosperous families and strong communities,” said Carolyn Miles, the President and CEO of Save the Children USA, in the report.

More Information

More information about the 13th annual “State of the World’s Mothers Report,” including policy recommendations, is available from the Save The Children foundation.

See related HelpingYouCare™ reports on:

Which States Have the Best and Worst Health Rankings in 2011?

U.S. Falls Behind Other Developed Countries In Life Expectancy Gains

Survey of 11 Countries Finds U.S. Adults Most Likely to Forgo Medical Care Due to Cost; U.S. is Highest Cost, Most Complex System

Health Care: An International Comparison

For more information on health care policy and reform, see the HelpingYouCare™ resource pages on VoicesForCare™, including:

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