Why the United States is one of the worst developed countries to raise a child

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The United States is the most powerful country on Earth. Yet when it comes to poverty, children are largely on their own.

Key points

  • Of 41 countries analyzed by Pew Research, the United States is the only country that does not offer paid parental leave.
  • The United States is the only industrialized country that does not provide universal health care.
  • Each year, the United States spends only $500 per child on early childhood care, leaving the rest to families.

Certainly, the hopes of renewing the expanded tax credit for children are not dead. Whether this is President Biden’s version, Sen. Mitt Romney’s version, a compromise between the two, or nothing at all is still very uncertain. Chances are we’ll have to wait until after the midterm elections to see.

In the meantime, it is interesting to note how other industrialized countries use taxpayers’ money to ensure that the basic material needs of children are met.

What the research reveals

Last year, six months of expanded child tax credit payments lifted about 3.7 million American children out of poverty. Families had more money in the bank to meet the basic needs of their children. But on January 1, 2022, these families were left on their own again as Republicans in Congress refused to extend monthly child tax credit payments.

According to a new study from Columbia University, the monthly child poverty rate rose from 12.1% in December 2021 to 17% in January 2022 when Child Tax Credit payments ended. The study shows that all children who lived in poverty before the expansion of the child tax credit have returned.

Take care of children

And it’s not just the lack of child tax credit payments that’s impacting families. It’s downright expensive to raise a child in the United States, made worse by the lack of paid parental leave and the high cost of daycare. Additionally, the United States is the only industrialized country without universal health care.

Compared to other countries, the United States does not come close to supporting children like other countries do. For example, according to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, and Elizabeth Davis and Aaron Sojourner for the Hamilton Project, annual government spending per child on early childhood care in the United States is $500. In contrast:

  • Norway spends over $29,000 per child
  • Finland invests more than $23,000 per child
  • Germany pays more than $18,000 per child
  • Even Chile, a relatively poor country, spends more than $8,000 per child on early childhood care

Raising Families

What other countries are showing is that it is possible to put families first. As the federal budget is debated, supporting children may become a priority. Here is an example of what other countries are doing. Keep in mind that this is only part of what these countries offer.


Parental leave in Canada can extend up to 78 weeks after childbirth or adoption. In addition, families receive $569 per month for each eligible child under age 6 and $480 per month for children ages 6 to 17.


Danish families receive $673 per term for each child under 18. In addition, new mothers benefit from a guaranteed leave of 52 weeks after the birth or adoption of a new child.


New mothers receive their full salary for 44 weeks after giving birth. If they choose to take 54 weeks of leave, they receive 80% of their income. To encourage fathers to get involved, Norwegian dads must take at least six weeks of parental leave or risk losing six weeks of family payments. Once a child is born, a couple receives $123 per month until the child turns 18. If a single parent is raising the child, the amount is doubled to $246 per month. Finally, daycare is available up to 10 hours a day and the maximum rate is capped at $290 per month.


Swedish families receive $136 per child. After childbirth, parents are entitled to 480 days of paid parental leave. The government guarantees 240 days of paid leave each when there are two parents.

Universal family allowances (or “family allowances”)

Many governments around the world offer child-related grants. However, these countries stand out by offering citizens stipends that can be used for anything from paying for football camps to investing for future goals. Excluding the countries already mentioned, here are some of the other countries providing income to families with children:

  • Poland
  • France
  • Luxemburg
  • Belgium
  • Austria
  • Germany
  • Ireland
  • Finland
  • Netherlands

Each country has developed a different way of determining which households receive a full monthly payment. For some, it’s based on income. For the others, everyone receives the same amount.

There is no doubt that the United States is a great nation. The question is whether he will use this greatness to come up with his own plan that will benefit both parents and children.

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