Skip to main content

The best place in the world to be a parent

The Best Place in the World to Be a Parent image

Many parents will attest, a happy parent, makes a happy child. So when it comes to choosing the best place to raise a family, taking into account things that are beneficial to the parents, not just the kids, is all-important.

At Money Guru, we understand that a lot of financial planning comes down to preparing for the future and wanting to enhance family life. We did some research on the things that matter to parents and how those things influence their decisions for their family. 

Money Guru has compiled a list of essential criteria from a number of sources, calculating a score per country based on their performance in each area. We’ve analysed the results to find the ideal place to be a parent and raise a child.

Ranking the best (and worst) places in the world to raise a child

So, where are the best and worst places in the World to be a parent? Our research has led to the creation of a global parenting index, based on employment and the workplace, health and safety, and finances and lifestyle.

The best place in the world to be a parent image - Global parenting The best place in the world to be a parent image - top locations

* Our data was compiled from a number of sources to create a score per country.We allocated points to each country, anywhere from 0 – 193 (the total number of countries), based on their performance for each criteria point. The areas we looked at were as follows;

  • Maternity & Paternity Time Off
  • Gender Pay Gap
  • Job Protection Through Maternity
  • Unemployment Rate
  • Quality of Education
  • Benefits Available for Childcare & School Costs
  • Financial Assistance for Low Income Families (2 pre-school aged children)
  • Average Annual Income
  • Percentage of Annual Wage Spent on Food (Family of 4)
  • Parental Leave for Child’s Everyday Health Needs
  • Average Number of Children per Woman (2015) (no score given as this skewed the data massively and can be attributed in large part to cultural difference.)

We allocated points to each country based on the criteria above. The higher the score, the better the overall total. We ranked countries top to bottom by this overall score.  In the event that no data was available for a specific area of focus, the country was assigned ‘0’ for that section, as we were unable to measure.

Some of the most eye-opening things were discovered include;

  • The United Arab Emirates beat Ireland, Canada and Australia in the overall league.
  • Poland faired better in the quality of education than the UK.
  • The percentage of annual income spent on food for a family of four is cheaper in the USA (7.04%) than Vietnam (72.12%). That’s a difference of a whopping 924%

Countries where we see regular turbulence, such as Lybia and Yemen offer better maternity leave and job protection for women than the USA. They offer job protection or have no explicit job protection, which means it may depend on the workplace, as opposed to the US who have no paid maternal leave at all. Yemen offers less than 14 weeks maternity leave, where again, the US offers none at all.

Singapore beats the UK to a spot in the top 5

The two top spots were claimed by Scandinavian countries renowned for their consistently high quality of life, Iceland and Norway.

  • Both offer a good level of maternity leave (26 – 51.9 weeks) as well as over 14 weeks of paternity leave.
  • These countries offer benefits that continue throughout a child’s development, with paid leave available for both parents to take care of everyday health requirements.
  • Relatively low levels of unemployment mean that there’s a good level of financial stability too.

The UK was pipped to a spot in the top 5 by Switzerland, who scored well on having a low unemployment level and a good education system as well as an average annual income of over £60,000.

The UK picked up points for providing unpaid leave for both parents and the opportunity for fathers to take up 14 weeks paternity leave. And despite recent uproar over the gender pay gap in Britain, they’re still better than most, coming in at number 15 out of 193 countries.

Surprisingly though, Singapore came in at no. 4, scoring better than the UK in the following areas;

  • Percentage of average annual wage spent on food
  • Quality of education
  • Low unemployment level

Maternity & paternity: UK may Trump US, but still has a long way to go

The UK is leading the way in affairs concerning maternity and paternity. In fact they mirror Norway, the top country on our list of the best places to be a parent. The US however, still has a long way to go. They offer no paid leave for new mothers or fathers and with no paid maternal leave, that means no job protection for women either. One of the countries performing the best in this area however, is Germany, who are no. 3 on our overall league table. Where they excel is in the length of time they offer for maternity leave. With 52 weeks or more, this gives new mothers more options, and the choice of whether to go back to work and when, is not so urgent.

Win, Lose or Draw: The USA and the UK compared

  United States of America United Kingdom
Maternity Time Off Lose Win
Paternity Time Off Lose Win
Gender Pay Gap Lose Win
Job Protection for mothers throughout maternity leave Lose Win
Unemployment Rate Lose Win
Quality of Education Lose Win
Benefits Available for Childcare or School Costs Draw Draw
Financial Assistance for Low Income Families with two pre-school-age children? Lose Win
Average Annual Income / household income Win Lose
% of average annual wage spent on food for a family of four. Win Lose
Parental Leave for a Child's everyday Health Needs Lose Win
Unemployment Levels (% of total labour force - estimated.) Lose Win
Best place to be a parent (higher number = better) - The Money Guru Score Lose
3 wins or draws out of 12 factors
11 wins or draws out of 12 factors.

The best place in the world to be a parent image - Maternity The best place in the world to be a parent image - paternity The best place in the world to be a parent image - job security for women

Of course, there are many more factors to consider when choosing where to raise a family, but it’s interesting to see what your desired place offers in comparison with other countries. It’s clear however, that when both children and parents have more opportunities, they’re likely to have a happier and more content life.