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These Are the World’s Healthiest Places to Raise a Kid

Weirdly, a few extra-family friendly Scandinavian countries were somehow not on the list.

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Lots of American families have hit the metaphorical road over the last decade, moving abroad to improve their quality of life. But sometimes it’s hard to know what country is best for raising a family. Maybe you’ve been hearing about the benefits of Scandinavian countries but can’t imagine living through a Finnish winter. Or maybe Japan is appealing, but the language barrier is a huge stumbling block. Don’t sweat it—if becoming an ex-pat family is on your bucket list, have we got the list for you.

An Australian firm, Compare the Market, recently analyzed 31 Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) member countries to determine which developed nation is the healthiest for raising children. The firm based the assessment on six factors—hospitals per million residents, green spaces per million residents, life expectancy, child vaccination rate, access to drinking water, and education spending. The firm analyzed each category and gave the countries an overall score out of 10. 

There are a few surprises on the list and a few surprising omissions from the analysis—out of all the Scandinavian countries, the study included only Iceland and Finland.

So if you’re thinking of living that ex-pat life, here’s where to consider and potentially where to avoid. But maybe check out Norway, Sweden, and Denmark as well—we hear they’re pretty nice.

The Ten Healthiest Developed Countries to Raise a Child

  •  Australia
  •  Iceland
  • Japan
  • Israel
  • New Zealand
  • Belgium
  • Finland
  • Germany
  • Switzerland
  • Portugal

Scandinavian countries have long ranked as the pinnacle of the happiest and healthiest countries in the world, so it may be surprising to see Australia in the top spot. Australia took the top place based mostly on green spaces per million residents with 88—more than double that of any other developed country. Iceland coming in at number two is no surprise.

Oz also boasts 54 hospitals per million residents, a 95% child vaccination rate, one of the highest life expectancies on the list at 80.7, and access to drinking water for almost 99% of its population.

Don’t worry though, Iceland came in second, keeping the hope alive for hygge enthusiasts around the world. 

The Ten Least Healthy Developed Countries to Raise a Child

  • Costa Rica
  • Austria
  • Hungary
  • Colombia
  • Czech Republic
  • Latvia
  • Slovakia
  • Poland
  • Estonia
  • Lithuania
  • Mexico

Eastern European and Central and South American round out the bottom of the list. With less education spending, lower life expectancies, and fewer hospitals per capita (except for Colombia, which has more hospitals per million residents than any other country on the list by far), these countries might not be the ideal place to raise an ex-pat child. 

Where Does the U.S. Fall?

The United States came in in the lower half of the list at number 17and an overall ranking of 5.24. The U.S. offers 19 hospitals per 1 million residents, 31 green spaces per 1 million residents, a 93% child vaccination rate, and the lowest life expectancy besides Mexico and the Balkan countries. The U.S. lags behind many of its developed counterparts in education spending at 6.1% of GDP compared to 7.7% in Iceland, 7.0% in Costa Rica, 6.4% in Belgium and Finland, and 6.3% in New Zealand. We also ranked 20th in providing access to safe drinking water to residents.