Personal Finance

Best Countries in Europe to Raise a Child

We analysed current health and lifestyle data to determine the best European countries for raising a child. Our evaluation covered metrics for young people in 29 European nations related to health & safety (e.g., rates of exercise, healthy eating, obesity, vaccinations, etc.), use of harmful substances (e.g., cigarettes, alcohol and drugs) and educational attainment (e.g., English language and computer skills). Below we explain our findings and our methodology.

Top Countries in Europe for Child Rearing

The best European countries for raising children foster an environment conducive to positive health and wellbeing, high educational attainment rates, and lower prevalence of harmful behaviours such as drinking, drug use and smoking amongst young people. With this in mind, our scoring system uses relevant publicly-available data to rank each country across several categories. Lower scores indicate better locations for kids to grow up.

1. Sweden

Sweden ranked as the best country for raising children, standing out for the education of their children (ranking #4 in this category with particularly strong results for English language skills). For example, Sweden is the most proficient in English of non-English speaking countries and 100% of children learn English in secondary school. Sweden also posted the lowest smoking rates amongst young people aged 15 to 24, has the cleanest air (tied with Finland) and placed an impressive 5th for happiness.

Rank
Overall1
Health & Safety13
Smoking, Alcohol & Drugs4
Education4



2. Luxembourg

Luxembourg shines as a great place for children to grow up healthy and safe. For example, Luxembourg had top ten results for sufficient exercise, good air quality and happiness, and the best measles vaccination rate (99% of children have a jab). The percentage of young people doing drugs is relatively low (especially MDMA and amphetamines). Finally, Luxembourg educates their young people well (34% receive a tertiary degree). However, only 38% of young adults eat fruit each day (with 46% eating vegetables each day).

Rank
Overall2
Health & Safety1
Smoking, Alcohol & Drugs12
Education9



3. Poland

Poland ranked as the 3rd best European country for raising kids, standing out for having a lower proportion of young people who smoke and drink. For example, 81% of 15 to 24 year olds are non smokers, the 5th best in the group. Poland ranked 3rd best in terms of drinking, with only 13% of 15 to 24 year olds drinking daily or weekly. Young people also have a healthy diet, with 55% eating fruit and 51% eating vegetables each per day.

Rank
Overall3
Health & Safety11
Smoking, Alcohol & Drugs3
Education9



Summary of Top Countries for Kids in Europe

Below are the 29 countries in Europe ranked from best to worst for raising children, with scores across health & safety, use of harmful substances and education. Sweden topped the charts, with particular strength in terms of child education and lower use of harmful substances. Lower scores are better.

RankCountryPositive Health & SafetyAlcohol, Drugs and SmokingEducation
1Sweden1344
2Luxembourg1129
3Poland1139
4Norway3617
5Spain41311
6Denmark7211
6Finland5222
8Austria2273
9Lithuania15811
10United Kingdom17144
10Romania21113
12Slovenia111513
13Estonia8266
14Belgium91022
15Portugal10527
16Cyprus2978
17Netherlands131817
18Turkey23224
19Greece201023
20Czechia62921
21Croatia182020
22Ireland26276
22Germany192515
22Italy24926
25Latvia261619
25France242215
27Hungary162225
28Slovakia221629
29Bulgaria261928

Discussion of Categories

This study includes a wide variety of data in order to characterise each country's environment from the perspective of a child's wellbeing and development. We categorise this data into three groups: health & safety, exposure to harmful substances (i.e., alcohol, drugs and smoking) and education. Each score is based on a country's rank across these categories.

Positive Health & Safety

The Health & Safety category combines many wide-ranging factors such as levels of physical exercise, vaccination coverage, air quality, consumption of fruits and vegetables, obesity levels and metrics for happiness and safety. These data points give an indication of the relative strength of a country's environment when it comes to raising a healthy and happy child.

RankCountrySufficient Physical ExerciseMeasles VaccinationAir Quality (PM2.5 Concentration)Fruit & Veg ConsumptionObesityHappiness RankSafety Rank
1Luxembourg27%99%10.242%2.8%1010
2Austria17%96%12.448%2.8%62
3Norwayn/a96%741%2.8%218
4Spain24%97%9.539%2.0%1415
5Finland26%94%5.938%4.7%14
6Czechia20%97%15.142%2.1%127
7Denmark14%97%10.141%4.4%35
8Estonia16%93%6.745%2.7%231
9Belgium20%96%12.953%3.0%924
10Portugal25%98%7.945%4.6%2614
11Slovenia79%93%15.848%3.6%193
11Poland24%94%20.553%2.5%1613
13Sweden15%97%5.945%4.3%529
13Netherlands31%93%12.125%3.1%49
15Lithuania10%94%11.550%1.3%1819
16Hungary42%99%15.645%5.0%2417
17United Kingdom27%92%10.557%5.7%1125
18Croatia19%89%1758%1.3%286
19Germany16%97%11.732%3.4%816
20Greece13%97%15.750%2.3%2721
21Romania23%87%14.332%0.9%208
22Slovakia10%96%17.543%2.8%1512
23Turkeyn/a96%4249%2.4%2523
24Italy11%92%15.352%2.1%1727
24France32%90%11.640%3.2%1328
26Bulgaria33%94%18.837%1.5%2922
26Latvia19%96%12.738%3.3%2120
26Ireland16%92%8.344%6.7%726
29Cyprus90%16.844%3.6%2211

Alcohol, Drugs and Smoking

The vices category considers the percentage of young people who use harmful substances like alcohol, smoking and drugs (marijuana, MDMA, amphetamines and cocaine). As peer pressure is a significant factor for children and young adults, these metrics can give an indication of the likelihood a young person is influenced to engage in harmful behaviour.

RankCountrySmokingDrinkingDrug Use
Occasional or DailyIntoxicated in Past 12 MonthsDrinks Daily or WeeklyAlcohol Use DisorderMarijuanaMDMAAmphetaminesCocaine
1Romania18%23%6%1.2%6%0.2%0.1%0.2%
2Turkey23%n/a2%0.6%0%0.1%0.1%n/a
3Poland19%26%13%0.9%10%0.9%0.4%0.4%
4Sweden17%23%17%1.3%7%n/an/an/a
5Portugal22%22%21%1.2%8%0.2%0.0%0.3%
6Norway17%19%14%1.1%9%1.6%0.5%1.3%
7Cyprus24%23%14%1.1%4%0.3%0.1%0.4%
8Lithuania20%30%9%2.3%6%1.0%0.5%0.3%
9Italy21%27%24%0.5%21%0.9%0.3%1.9%
10Greece25%28%29%1.1%5%0.4%n/a0.6%
10Belgium22%23%42%1.3%10%0.8%0.5%0.9%
12Luxembourg23%n/a28%1.1%10%0.4%0.1%0.6%
13Spain22%41%24%1.0%17%1.3%1.0%3.0%
14United Kingdom18%n/a34%1.4%12%2.6%0.7%4.0%
15Slovenia25%35%24%1.4%10%0.8%0.8%1.2%
16Latvia31%28%10%2.4%10%0.8%0.7%1.2%
16Slovakia30%32%13%1.8%9%1.2%0.8%0.3%
18Netherlands29%28%0.7%16%7.4%3.6%3.7%
19Bulgaria30%36%14%1.4%10%3.1%1.8%0.5%
20Croatia26%36%9%1.4%16%1.4%2.3%1.6%
21Denmark23%55%28%1.1%15%1.5%1.4%3.9%
22France34%29%n/a1.1%22%2.3%0.7%2.4%
22Finland25%32%23%1.9%14%2.5%2.4%1.0%
22Hungary30%43%14%1.4%4%2.1%1.4%0.9%
25Germany24%n/a34%1.4%13%1.3%1.9%1.2%
26Estonia28%26%18%2.4%14%2.3%2.5%1.3%
27Ireland30%30%31%1.9%14%4.4%0.6%2.9%
27Austria36%43%31%1.7%14%1.1%0.9%0.4%
29Czechia29%39%35%1.4%19%4.1%1.7%0.7%

Education

The education category includes measures such as the percentage of the population that has completed some form of tertiary education, as well as English language and computer skills. These data points are meant to quantify the preparedness of children to enter the world with the knowledge and skills necessary to compete in today's competitive, global job market.

RankCountryEducational AttainmentComputer SkillsEnglish Language
TertiaryHave written computer codeUse basic arithmetic formulae in a spreadsheetTaught in Secondary SchoolProficiency Rank
1Denmark34%28%87%100%7
2Finland34%22%64%99.4%9
3Austria27%23%75%99.9%13
4Sweden32%20%36%100%3
4United Kingdom32%22%72%100%1
6Ireland34%10%40%100.0%1
6Estonia38%21%83%95.8%n/a
8Cyprus36%4%62%99.9%n/a
9Luxembourg34%23%59%71.5%8
9Poland25%6%70%98.2%14
11Lithuania34%16%91%97.2%23
11Spain30%16%62%100%24
13Slovenia27%8%89%98.5%10
13Romania15%2%35%99.9%15
15France29%20%81%99.3%26
15Germany26%13%59%100.0%11
17Norway36%16%91%95.2%6
17Netherlands31%18%49%93.9%5
19Latvia31%9%82%97.3%n/a
20Croatia18%23%64%97.9%16
21Czechia20%9%78%97.9%18
22Belgium33%7%47%77.6%12
23Greece21%12%59%99.5%20
24Turkey16%4%36%n/a27
25Hungary21%12%60%77.7%19
26Italy14%11%61%99.6%25
27Portugal19%24%76%95.0%17
28Bulgaria25%2%55%89.4%22
29Slovakia19%16%72%97.0%21

Methodology

We focused our data collection on general health, environmental and lifestyle factors, such as obesity, exercise, healthy eating, drinking/smoking/drug use and education rates, with a focus on metrics that contribute to a child's wellbeing and development. We gathered the data from several reputable sources including the World Health Organization (WHO), Eurostat and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

Using these data sets, we first ranked the 29 European countries based on each metric and calculated an average ranking for each category. The composite score is an equally weighted average of each category's score. A lower score indicates a better rank. With this information we narrowed down the list of 50 countries to arrive at the top countries in Europe for raising kids.

Health & Safety data include general indicators of a country's positive environment for children. We included data on sufficient physical exercise (for 11+ years old), measles vaccination rates, air quality (PM2.5 Concentration), fruit & vegetable consumption (% aged 15 - 24 consuming fruit and veg every day), obesity rates (15 - 19 years old), plus ranks from the World Happiness Report (which reflects metrics related to GDP, social support, healthy life expectancy, generosity, freedom to make life choices, etc.) and a general safety rank. Together, these factors gave us a broad picture of the general environment for children in each country.

Smoking, Alcohol and Drug Use data include the percentage of older children/young adults who use cigarettes, drink and use drugs. To measure drug use we included data on cannabis, MDMA, amphetamines and cocaine. For alcohol use, we incorporated data on the percentage who have been intoxicated in the past 12 months, who suffer from an alcohol use disorder and who drink either daily or weekly.

Education data relate to how well a country prepares its children to compete in a global job market in which English language and computer skills are critical.

Sources

Health & Safety

  • WHO: Measles vaccination rates, air quality and measure of sufficient physical activity
  • Eurostat: Obesity rates, fruit and vegetable consumption
  • World Happiness Report: Happiness rank
  • Numbeo: Safety rank

Smoking, Alcohol and Drug Use

  • Eurostat: Smoking rates and frequency of alcohol consumption in 15 to 24 year olds
  • ESPAD (European School Survey Project on Alcohol and Other Drugs): Frequency of intoxication during the last 12 months in 15 to 16 year olds
  • GHDx (Global Health Data Exchange): Rate of alcohol use disorders in 15 to 19 year olds
  • European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction: Drug use rates

Education

  • OECD: Tertiary education attainment rates
  • Eurostat: % of Individuals who have written code in a programming language, % of individuals who have used basic arithmetic formulae to add, subtract, multiply or divide figures in a spreadsheet and prevalence of English teaching in secondary schools
  • Education First: English language proficiency

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