Study: Best and Worst Places to Be a Mom

Maternity leave

Save the Children released its 13th annual State of the World’s Mothers Report last month, ranking countries by criteria including women’s education, nutrition and economic well-being (including maternity leave policies), in addition to how their children fare during the first years of life.

Norway topped the list for the second year in a row, and Nigeria replaced Afghanistan at the bottom. Although the United States ranked low at 25th on the list of the 43 countries categorized as “more developed,” that’s at least an improvement over last year’s 31st.

After Norway, the top 10 countries were in Northern Europe/Scandinavia (Iceland, 2; Sweden, 3; Denmark, 5; Finland, 6; Belgium, 8; and the Netherlands, 9) plus New Zealand (4), Australia (7) and Ireland (10). Canada came in at 19.

The United States still has one of the worst maternity leave policies among the world’s first-world countries, with an average of 12 weeks leave (the number varies by state), compared to Norway’s 36 to 46 weeks and Canada’s 52 weeks. To see specific statistics on everything from mat leave to women’s education and earned income compared to males, read the full report here.

The main takeaway from this year’s study is the devastating effects of malnutrition on both mothers and children, and how breastfeeding, especially in developing countries, can help combat mortality and reduce the number of children suffering from malnutrition-related problems. The bulk of the report talks about improving the health of women and children through economic growth and education, so mothers are better able to support and care for their children.

What do you think would be the number one thing we could do in the US to better the lives of mothers and children?