Japan ranks sixth in UNICEF survey on children’s well-being

Kyodo

Japan ranked sixth among 31 industrialized countries in a survey on children’s well-being released Wednesday by the U.N. Children’s Fund and a Japanese institute.

The survey measured development according to five dimensions of children’s lives: material well-being, health and safety, education, behavior and risks, and housing and environment. Japan’s National Institute of Population and Social Security Research jointly conducted the research with UNICEF.

Overall, the Netherlands ranked first in the survey, followed by four Nordic countries — Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden. The United States came in 29th, which was originally released in April without data on Japan.

Japan topped the lists for education, and behavior and risks, but only 10th in the field of housing and environment, 16th in health and safety, and 21st in material well-being.

Japan’s top ranking in education was due in large part to its favorable performance in the OECD’s Program for International Student Assessment.

Lower childhood obesity as well as lower teenage fertility and alcohol abuse rates helped clinch the first place in the behavior and risks category.

The OECD’s PISA assesses the competence of 15-year-old students in reading, science and math.

In the material well-being section, Japan’s ranking was hurt by a relatively high rate, 14.9 percent, of children whose families earn less than half the standard income. In Finland, which topped the list, the ratio was 3.6 percent, while in Romania, which ranked at the bottom, the ratio was 23.6 percent.