The Netherlands is the best place to be a kid, says UNICEF

Hold onto your hockey sticks, a new UNICEF study shows the Netherlands is the best place to be a kid. Dutch children rank highest for happiness.

The UN children’s rights organisation conducted a study about the mental health, physical health, and academic and social skills of children aged 0 – 18 in the 41 wealthiest countries. The research shows the Netherlands is the number one place to be a kid — it received the highest overall score, followed by Denmark and Norway. 

Ranking highest also in life satisfaction, children in the Netherlands are a whopping 93% satisfied with their lives. Mexico and Romania follow, with 86% and 85%, respectively. In the majority of countries, children are under 80% content. Children are the least satisfied in Turkey, with 53% reported satisfaction.  

Nobody’s perfect

But it can’t be all sunshine and tulips. The Netherlands came in 9th place for children’s physical health. While that’s still in the top ten, a quarter of Dutch children are overweight. However, the UNICEF report emphasises that no country ranks high in each category. 

In social and academic skills, the Netherlands gets the bronze, and UNICEF Netherlands says the country can do better. “We know from our recent Geluk Onder Druk study that Dutch young people experience the most stress due to school pressure. As the school pressure increases, young people experience more emotional problems and less life satisfaction,” says Suzanne Laszlo, director of UNICEF Netherlands.

Have you noticed that children are happier in the Netherlands? Why do you think makes them so happy?

Feature Image: Pixabay

Brin Andrews
Brin Andrews
Brin is an avid ice cream eater from the US, calling Amsterdam home since early 2019. As a lover of mountains, life below sea level has been a bit of an adjustment, but she manages to stay afloat with long runs, wine, and frequent travel. Incidentally, these are a few of her favourite topics to write about.


  1. One reason Dutch kids may feel happier is because in the Netherlands kids are overall not dumped down. They are encouraged to be responsible and look after themselves. They can ride a bike w/o a helmet and have the freedom from a young age to cycle into the world. I think that kind of freedom adds to ones happiness. I know it did for me.

  2. Lack of peer pressure, and a non competitive nature of the education system might also contribute. Observing my teenager at middlebareschool, it seems to me the main goal of him and his peer is to pass with the minimum grade, while maximising their leisure time.

  3. It would be nice to see the data split up between educational levels to see possible differences and explenations. I work in ‘MBO’ and see a lot of troubled kids


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