How Denmark Became the Best Country to Raise Kids | Best Countries

AARHUS, Denmark — Regitze Spenner Ishøy’s mornings begin the best way many working moms’ do: She wakes up round 6 a.m., will get her 5- and 13-year-old daughters prepared for varsity and heads to work in Guldborgsund, a metropolis of about 60,000 in Denmark’s southernmost area. After selecting up her youthful baby some eight hours later, she makes dinner, responds to last-minute emails and eventually passes out. There’s a rhythm to her household’s schedule, she says: Weekdays are “rinse and repeat.”

However Spenner Ishøy has no less than one factor going for her, significantly on the subject of international opinion: Denmark is one of the best place on the earth to boost children, in response to U.S. News & World Report’s 2022 Best Countries rankings. The Greatest Nations for Elevating Children checklist is predicated on a worldwide survey of greater than 17,000 respondents and the way they perceived international locations in relation to eight attributes: caring about human rights, being thought of household pleasant, its atmosphere for gender equality, being seen as pleased, having revenue equality, being protected, and having well-developed public schooling and public well being techniques.

Locals say Denmark’s family-friendly popularity is earned resulting from a excessive diploma of institutional help, together with government-sponsored well being care, baby care and schooling, in addition to cultural values tied to social belief, group and “hygge,” which captures emotions of coziness, safety and time with family members.

The Danish strategy seems to be paying off. In 2021, the overwhelming majority of Danish kids reported a excessive stage of well-being, according to a survey from the Copenhagen-based assume tank Mandag Morgen and the Lego Basis.

“We’ve got this society that general, provides the suitable help to households,” Spenner Ishøy says. “Once I can chill out within the data that my baby will likely be taken care of, that she has one of the best capability to have an important day, I can choose up my work and do one thing for any person else.”

That help is wide-ranging: Expectant moms have free entry to doctors and midwives, whereas new dad and mom are entitled to 24 weeks of paid leave each, in addition to 5 house visits from a nurse of their baby’s first 12 months. Even the Crown Princess took benefit of the assistance, notes Nanna Elberg, a nurse staff lead at Copenhagen’s well being authority who did these visits for 18 years. Infants as younger as 6 months outdated are guaranteed a spot at day care, which is very sponsored, and when the youngsters develop up, tuition is free – they usually can get a monthly stipend whereas in class.

Denmark’s strong baby care system is seen as important for the financial system, provided that each women and men are anticipated to work outside of the home. Nevertheless it’s additionally a part of a broader Danish effort to create a extra equal society, starting with the nation’s youngest residents.

Denmark in Photographs


“The state actually takes duty for youngsters. It is not a household matter solely, it is thought to be a shared, collective matter,” says Ditte Winther-Lindqvist, a developmental psychology lecturer and UNESCO chair from Denmark’s Institute for Pedagogy and Schooling at Aarhus College. “The primary three to 4 years truly actually make a big impact on the remainder of kids’s lives,” she says. “In case you assist them, it’s actually serving to the approaching era as effectively.”

The Danish ethos round parenting emerged alongside the development of the welfare state within the twentieth century. However now, fissures are starting to point out as some public companies wrestle to satisfy the calls for of the folks. A growing share of scholars attend non-public faculties, for instance, and the Danish well being care system is increasingly dependent on non-public hospitals.

In the meantime, there’s a rising emphasis on “individualization and performance-based tradition,” as Denmark’s schooling system strives to compete with China and Germany, says Jonas Keiding Lindholm, who heads Mandag Morgen and was previously Secretary Common for Save the Youngsters in Denmark. All of those elements, he says, threat the erosion of social equality and the emergence of a “Denmark of two.”

“It’s nonetheless marginal in comparison with different international locations, however we’re beginning to see larger ranges of kids not thriving,” Keiding Lindholm says. “That improvement is parallel to the gradual dismantling of each the amount and high quality of welfare state companies.”

Individually, the broad cultural buy-in for the dominant parenting type means there’s little tolerance for Danes who need extra flexibility. When Kira Dechau Holm and her husband had been mulling choices for his or her first baby, they felt that they had two decisions: Ship her to day care 40 hours per week, or preserve her house full time. Involved in regards to the native day care’s high quality, they opted to maintain her house regardless of the pressure on their household life and funds.

“As a result of our group is so institutionalized, whenever you soar exterior of that, you are just about by yourself from 9 to five,” Dechau Holm says. After her household moved to a smaller city from Copenhagen, they discovered a personal faculty that enables their now-4-year-old to be in day care half time. That choice influenced their choice to have a second baby; Dechau Holm is due in early 2023.

Even so, Dechau Holm and different Danish dad and mom say they aren’t stunned their nation ranks as the highest place on the earth to boost kids – and that they wouldn’t select to develop their households wherever else.

“The rationale we’ve gotten to the place we’re with a balanced household is as a result of we’ve the security and safety to have the ability to experiment,” Dechau Holm says.

However dad and mom additionally shared tenets of a Scandinavian code of conduct they doubtless first discovered in day care: Jante Law, which successfully preaches humility and collective well-being over particular person achievement. Spenner Ishøy, for one, says Danes ought to be extra accepting of one another’s parenting ways, and that on the system stage, there’s at all times room for enchancment.

“Simply because we expect we’re higher in Denmark, it doesn’t suggest that we will not be taught, or that we will not do something extra,” Spenner Ishøy says. “We want to concentrate on how we are able to help (struggling kids) and be higher as a society, as an academic system and as dad and mom.”

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