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UNICEF urges gov'ts not to reduce investment on children


19:15, April 10, 2013

GENEVA, April 10 (Xinhua) -- The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) on Wednesday called on governments not to reduce their spending on children due to austerity measures.

"Don't reduce your investment in the young people, not now, and never," said Chris de Neubourg, chief of Social and Economic Policy with UNICEF Office of Research, introducing the agency's latest report on child well-being in rich countries.

The report, which studied the state of children in 29 of the world's advanced economies, said that the three years of economic hardship didn't bode well for the present or near future.

The report found that the Netherlands and Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden again sit at the top of a child well-being table, while four southern European countries, Greece, Italy, Portugal and Spain, were placed at the bottom.

The rankings were made according to five dimensions of children's lives, material well-being, health and safety, education, behavior and risks, and housing and environment, Neubourg said.

As debates continue on austerity measures and social spending cuts, the report found that the first decade of this century witnessed steady improvement in various fields of child well-being in the industrialized world, despite setbacks in some countries on specific indicators.

Every country for which data were available saw reductions in infant mortality and the rate of further education enrolment increased, it said.

The study did not find a strong relationship between per capita gross domestic product and overall child well-being. For example, Slovenia ranks higher than Canada, the Czech Republic higher than Austria, and Portugal higher than the United States.

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