With such an emphasis on the existing state of the global economy, it is interesting to consider how the current generation of children are being effected by the fiscal tumult. When you consider the levels of national debt that are being recorded by countries across the continents, it is inevitable that the levels of educational and financial support for infants are bound to suffer as a consequence. There are beacons of light that shine through the darkness, and some countries are continuing to deliver outstanding levels of education, financial support and opportunities for development to children and the family unit. (For related reading, check out Most and Least Educated States.)

TUTORIAL: Macroeconomics

Education
The annual release of the world educational rankings is much anticipated by respective government bodies, as it provides a clear indication of how their country is faring in terms of its implementation of fundamental educational principles. Last year, approximately 470,000 15-year-old students from each nation sat a numeracy, literacy and science test to gauge their level of acumen. Conducted by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the test assessed students across 65 international countries.

South Korea's students emerged with the most credit, recording the highest levels of achievement across reading, mathematics and scientific ability. It is a testament to the nation's structured and well thought out educational system, which is split primarily into three parts. With high school education that caters to both academic and vocational strengths, it allows each individual child to thrive regardless of their basic level of academic aptitude. By also placing an emphasis on moral education, South Korea is also leading the way in developing children into decision-making adults.

The Best Child Benefits and Financial Protection
In terms of providing a balanced duty of care for both children and parents, Scandinavian nation Denmark is head and shoulders above many of its international rivals. Its generous ethos towards protecting children and the family unit is prevalent right across the board, from the rate of family allowance that the country delivers to the flexibility offered to parents when it comes to making maternity and paternity leave arrangements. Certainly compared to its European rivals, Denmark has a more liberal stance when it comes to safeguarding its families.

In terms of the family allowance, the Danish government has restored a universal policy after experimenting with means tested benefits in the 1980s. These allowances are especially high for families with children aged between 0 and 2, and 7 and 17, not to mention being entirely government funded and non-taxable. In addition to this, the nation's maternal and child health program is considered among the best in the world, with an emphasis on proactive problem solving and intervention when it comes to addressing family or medical issues. (For some suggestions where you should go to school, read Top Colleges For Your Tuition Buck.)

The Best Foundation for Child Development
In terms of a social environment that best encourages child development, central European country Belgium sets the benchmark. Aside from its consistently low levels of child poverty (recorded at just 4.4% in 2010), Belgium also fares well in terms of other educational and cultural factors. In fact, British bank HSBC conducted research into the most child friendly environments for its 2010 Offshore Offspring publication, and its results revealed Belgium to be most suitable for fostering child development.

The research was conducted using expatriates who had experienced childcare in other nations, and more than 65% considered Belgium to boast a far superior level of health and childcare to that of their home country. A further 50% felt that they were benefiting from an enhanced standard of living at a lower cost, and this was partially based on the quality of education and lifestyle that their children were able to enjoy as a result.

The Bottom Line
It is clear that though the economic malaise persists towards the end of 2011, some countries are continuing to invest in the welfare of youth and the typical family unit. Many nations strive to provide a high quality of care, education and support for their younger generations, in spite of the financial problems and debt that they find themselves burdened with. These countries should stand as examples to others, as they continue to understand the importance of educating children and preparing them for the world of work and fiscal responsibility. (For more, check out The Correlation Between Education And The Economy.)

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