Switzerland ranked 'worst in Europe' for being family-friendly
A study of family-friendly policies in OECD and EU countries released by the United Nations Children’s fund (UNICEF) has ranked Switzerland lowest among European countries.
The study, based on data from 2016, took into account national policies on paid parental leave for mothers and fathers, accessibility of childcare services offered up until school age (6 years old), and breast-feeding rates.
Switzerland was ranked lowest among European countries (31st), just below Greece, Cyprus, and the United Kingdom.
This low ranking was due largely to a lack of fully-paid leave guaranteed to mothers, who get only eight weeks at full rate equivalent (or a total of 14 weeks at 80 percent of their salary), and fathers, who are not guaranteed any parental leave at the national level.
Though the Swiss did slightly better in terms of childcare, they still found themselves in the lower half of the table when it came to childcare enrolment before and after 3 years of age.
The highest ranked country in the study was Sweden, which offers 35 weeks of fully-paid leave to mothers and 10 weeks to fathers, and where 97% of children aged 3-6 were enrolled in child care. Close behind Sweden were Norway, Iceland, and Estonia.
Paid leave and childcare accessibility varied widely among the countries studied, and no country was consistently ranked highly in every factor considered.
The top country in terms of maternity leave was Estonia, with 85 weeks at full pay, while the number one for parental leave was Japan, which offers 30.4 weeks, largely untaken by Japanese fathers. The only country to not offer any nationally-guaranteed full-pay parental leave was the United States.
Because data on childcare enrolment was not available in the study’s non-European countries, they were not ranked.
The report was released as part of UNICEF’s Early Moments Matter campaign, which aims to promote healthy brain development in young children.
“There is no time more critical to children’s brain development – and therefore their futures – than the earliest years of life,” said UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore. “We need governments to help provide parents with the support they need to create a nurturing environment for their young children.