One of the main reasons why the U.S. is ranked in 31st place out of 43 "developed" countries and 164 countries overall is because of America's stingy maternity leave policy, in terms of both wages and duration. According to the Center for Economic and Policy Research, "only about one-fourth of U.S. employers offer fully paid "maternity-related leave" of any duration, and one-fifth of U.S. employers offer no maternity-related leave of any kind, paid or unpaid." These statistics deeply upset me, but, again, I am not surprised. I had listened to mothers complain for years about the lack of paid maternity leave before having my own child; and I have to say I felt blessed for being able to collect unemployment while being pregnant and raising Equis during his first year of life. I know that if I had still been working during that time, my experience with Equis would be very different and far more costly. However, I worry that if I were to have another child in the future, I still will not have access to a decent maternity leave or an adequate amount of maternity wages.
In addition to the lack of paid maternity leave, low pre-school enrollment (58%) and high maternal and child mortality rates round out the main four reasons why the U.S. ranks so poorly in these studies. In spite of this country's supposed advanced status in the world, parents and families are not as well taken care of as they are in other "developed" countries.
So what would the U.S. have to do to reach the number one spot in this study? Well, be more like Norway, of course: according to Save the Children, Norway "has the highest ratio of female-to-male earned income, the highest contraceptive prevalence rate, one of the lowest under-5 mortality rates and one of the most generous maternity leave policies in the developed world." CEPR suggests that creating a parental leave "policy that divided leave and payments equally between mothers and fathers on a non-transferable, 'use it or lose it' basis" would provide financial stability while ensuring that childcare responsibilities are evenly shared between parents and women do not lose their footing in the labor market. Save the Children also recommends that governments and international agencies increase education funding for women and girls, give access to maternal and child health care and advance women's economic opportunities. Now, a world in which these recommendations are heeded is one I would love to live in.