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Want A Good Kid? Raise Them In Sweden
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When Swedes Anna and Anders Brattström talked about taking jobs abroad, they kept coming back to the same conundrum: As working parents with two small children, they worried they wouldn’t have the same supports enjoyed at home.
“It’s quite a privilege to raise a family in Sweden,” says Anna, a postdoctoral student at Lund University in southern Sweden. “If we were to move abroad either my husband or I wouldn’t be able to make a career.”
Sweden promotes itself as a family-friendly country – a message that seems to be resonating. The Nordic nation is the world’s best country to raise kids, at least according to the roughly 16,000 respondents who filled out surveys for the 2016 Best Countries rankings. The rankings, conducted in partnership with brand strategy firm BAV Consulting and the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, aim to gauge global perceptions of the world’s biggest economies in terms of specific attributes associated with countries.
Countries perceived to be the Best Countries to Raise Kids, including Denmark, Canada, the Netherlands and Australia, scored highest in a compilation of eight country attributes: cares about human rights, family friendly, gender equality, happy, income equality, safe, well-developed public education system and well-developed health system. Pakistan and Iran – two countries criticized by human rights groups for their treatment of women – are perceived to be the least ideal countries to raise kids.
When it comes to providing support to young families, Sweden has the kind of policies that inspire envy in places like the United States, which doesn’t have a law mandating paid maternity or paternity leave. In Sweden, parents are entitled to 480 days of paid parental leave, 60 of which are reserved for the father. The government provides a monthly allowance to parents per child and gives adults the right to reduce their working hours until their children turn eight, according to, Sweden’s official website.
What’s great about Sweden, Anna says, is that it’s just not women who take advantage of these benefits.
“It’s sort of expected also for a father to do his share,” she says. “If they are sick then I will take one day off work then he will take one day off work. As a woman, it really makes a difference. If I compare my situations to my colleagues in other countries, they usually would wait to have children until much later in their career.”

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