The Best and Worst Countries to Raise a Family in 2020

Where the United States ranked is certainly an unpleasant surprise.

Iceland
European countries topped a new list of best places to raise a family
stockstudioX / Getty Images
By Kirk Miller / July 29, 2020 12:19 pm

Once the rest of the world takes us back, you may want to pack up the kids and move. Because the United States is certainly one of the roughest nations in which to raise a family.

That’s according to Asher & Lyric, a data-heavy family travel site that just released its list of The 35 Best Countries to Raise a Family. Here, they gathered statistics from 30 “trusted international sources” to rank the 35 countries that are part of the Organization for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD); those areas were the focus because they offered reliable data. The gathered statistics were then divided into six categories: Safety, Happiness, Cost, Health, Education and Time.

And big caveats: These stats apply to citizens and permanent residents, and they are geared toward people raising a family, so they’re not necessarily the “best” place if you’re moving there and/or not having children.

Key findings:

  • Five countries earned an A+ for their family-friendly focus: Iceland, Norway, Sweden, Finland and Luxembourg.
  • Of those five, only one had an area of real concern: Luxembourg scored a “D” in Education.
  • Portugal, which has started to pop up on best places to retire, finished a modest 12th.
  • The United States finished 34th out of 35 ranked countries, scoring an “F” in three categories and a so-so C+ in Education and Happiness. And in “Cost” of raising a family, they finished by far the worst of all countries.
  • The findings didn’t take too many COVID-19 repercussions into account, but the few stats they included showcased the high infection and death rate in the United States over most other countries.

“The first time I looked at the data I was in disbelief. I thought there must be a mistake,” notes Lyric Fergusson, who runs the site with her husband. “I went one-by-one into each of the six categories. What I discovered, in many instances, was quite shocking.”

She adds: “I had become so numb to the country’s inadequacies that I must have simply disregarded my personal experience for the rhetoric of the nation.”

America particularly did poorly with health and time. “Americans work very long hours per year with zero government-mandated paid maternity, paternity, sick leave or vacation time,” says Fergusson. “No other country in our study gives zero paid maternity leave or zero paid vacation time.”

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