Children in the UK have lower wellbeing than their counterparts in Slovenia, Estonia and Greece, charity Save the Children has said.
The charity ranked the UK at 23rd out of 43 “more developed” countries for wellbeing of children in its annual State of the World’s Mothers report, and described the result as a “national embarrassment”.
The UK fared better in the rankings for the wellbeing of its mothers, in 13th, and women, in 10th position.
The report ranked children’s wellbeing in developed countries according to three main factors - pre-primary enrolment, secondary school enrolment and under-five mortality rate.
The charity said it was “particularly concerned” about the proportion of children in the UK enrolled in pre-primary education, which it said stood at 81% compared to 100% in countries such as France, Germany and the Netherlands.
Justin Forsyth, Save the Children’s chief executive, said: “We know that pre-school nursery or playgroup access helps all children but especially the poorest. It is a national embarrassment that the UK lags so far behind other countries of a similar size and wealth.”
Mr Forsyth criticised government plans to cut support for childcare costs, which he said would hurt the poorest children even further.
He said: “By cutting childcare support, the government is making it harder for low-income parents to return to work but just as important, more of our poorest children are likely to miss out on pre-school education, a key to later educational achievement.”
The charity’s report ranked Sweden as the best place for a child’s wellbeing, with Italy and Japan in joint second place. Somalia is the worst place for children’s wellbeing on the planet.
It listed the UK’s under-five child mortality rate at six per 1,000 live births, the joint 23rd lowest score out of the 43 countries. The lowest rates were three per 1,000.
It listed the UK’s pre-primary gross enrolment ratio as 81% of the total, based on “the total number of children enrolled in pre-primary education, regardless of age, expressed as a percentage of the total number of children of official pre-primary school age”.
It listed the UK’s secondary enrolment ratio at 99% of total.