The United States and Britain ranked at the bottom of a U.N. survey released Wednesday evaluating the well-being of children in wealthy countries.
The Netherlands topped the report issued by UNICEF, followed by other European countries with strong social welfare systems — Sweden, Denmark and Finland.
Among the report's overall findings was that wealth alone did not guarantee a child's well-being, with some poorer countries scoring ahead of richer ones. The U.S. and Britain finished 20th and 21st overall, respectively, behind Poland, the Czech Republic and Hungary.
Why does the United States lose so badly in a contest like this? Imagine two teams engaged in a team building exercise contest to see which team can get all of its members over the wall first.
On one team there is suspicion among the members that some on the team are freeloaders and malingerers. There is also worry that if the stronger members help the weaker members they will be fostering a culture of dependency. The stronger members quickly climb over the wall to demonstrate how it is done and then shout back instructions and encouragement to the weaker members of the team.
Meanwhile on the other team the strong members quickly get to work assisting the weaker members over the wall. Once the weaker members are over they climb over and their team celebrates their victory together.
Which of those teams resembles the health care system and social safety net of the Netherlands, Sweden, Denmark and Finland? Which team resembles the Unites States?