Where is the best place to be a mom? That sounds like the set-up to a sexist joke one might hear in a 1960s nightclub (“Try the kitchen”). But you might try Norway, ranked as the best place to be a mom, according to the Save the Children foundation's 13th annual Mother’s Index.
The ranking of 165 countries, comprising 45 developed nations and 122 in the developing world finds that Norway is tops for moms, followed by Iceland, Sweden, New Zealand, Denmark, Finland, Australia, Belgium, Ireland and the Netherlands/United Kingdom. Niger is ranked as the worst place in the world to be a mother.
The United States ranks 25th, up from 31st last year.
The Mother’s Index is included in Save the Children’s State of the World’s Mothers 2012 report. “the quality of children’s lives depends on the health, security and well-being of their mothers,” the report states. “Providing mothers with access to education, economic opportunities and maternal and child health care gives them and their children the best chance to survive and thrive.”
What makes Norway the best place to be a mom, and conversely Niger the worst? For starters, notes the report, skilled health personnel are present at virtually every birth in Norway, while only 1 in 3 births are attended in Niger. Women hold 40 percent of parliamentary seats in Norway, compared to 13 percent in Niger. Norway also has one of the most generous maternity leave policies in the developed world.
A typical Norwegian girl can expect to receive18 years of formal education and live to be more than 83 years-old. Eighty-two percent of women in that country are using some modern method of contraception, and only 1 mother in 175 is likely to lose a child before his or her fifth birthday. In Niger, a typical girl receives only four years of education and lives to only 56. Only five percent are using modern contraception, and one child in seven dies before he or she is five years-old.
America’s mediocre showing, the report finds is due to several factors, including a one-in-2,100 risk of maternal death, the highest of the industrialized nations. The mortality rate for children younger than five is eight per 1,000 births, which is comparable to Bosnia. The U.S. is the only developed country that does not guarantee working mothers paid leave.
Donald Liebenson writes news and features for Millionaire Corner. He has been published in the Chicago Tribune, The Chicago Sun-Times, The Los Angeles Times, Fiscal Times, Entertainment Weekly, Huffington Post, and other outlets. He has also served as a marketing writer for Chicago-based Questar Entertainment and distributor Baker & Taylor.
A graduate of the University of Southern California, he is married with a college-age son. He also writes extensively about entertainment.