NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Sweden is the Best Country to be a Mother

May 16, 2003

Sweden, Denmark and Norway are the world's best countries to be a mother while women and their children fare worst in poor African countries such as Niger and Ethiopia, according to a study by Save the Children.

The annual "Mothers Index" compared the well-being of mothers and their children in 117 countries, 43 of which were either experiencing conflict or had emerged from civil strife.

  • Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Switzerland and Finland were ranked in the top five countries respectively for mothers, followed by Canada, the Netherlands, Australia, Austria and the United Kingdom.
  • The United States ranked 11th on the index.
  • The study ranked poor countries Niger, Burkina Faso, Ethiopia and Guinea-Bissau at the bottom of the list along with Angola, Chad, Mali, Yemen, Sierra Leone and Guinea.

"One in seven women in parts of Africa will die in childbirth or pregnancy just trying to be a mother, compared to 1 in 6,000 in Sweden," said Mary Beth Powers, a reproductive health adviser for Save the Children.

In terms of a child's well-being, Afghanistan finished in last place. There, 165 infants out of every 1,000 died before their first birthday while 71 percent of children were not enrolled in school and 87 percent of the population was without safe water.

Source: "The 2003 Mother's Index," Save the Children, May 2003.


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