LONDON -- One in six children in the world's richest nations live in poverty, with the United States and Britain among the worst examples, according to the U.N. Children's Fund.
Despite rising incomes in the 29 nations of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development -- a Paris-based group of the world's wealthiest countries -- 47 million live in families so poor that their health and well-being is at risk, said a UNICEF report published this week.
Youngsters who grow up in poverty are more likely to have learning difficulties, drop out of school, use drugs, commit crimes, be jobless and have children too early, said the report by UNICEF's Innocenti Research Center in Florence, Italy, which conducts research on child poverty worldwide.
''The persistence of child poverty in rich countries ... confronts the industrialized world with a test both of its ideals and of its capacity to resolve many of its most intractable social problems,'' the report concluded.
In the United States, child poverty is now at its lowest level since 1980, but still higher than in the late 1960s and 1970s, the report said. Renewed efforts are needed to help the 13.5 million children still officially considered poor.
Mexico rated most poorly in terms of children living in relative poverty: More than 26 percent of children live in households with an income below 50 percent of the national median. The United States came next, with 22.4 percent; followed by Italy, 20.5 percent; Britain, 19.8 percent; Turkey, 19.7 percent; and Ireland, 16.8 percent.
Rated the best were Sweden, Norway and Finland, with 2.6 percent, 3.9 percent and 4.3 percent respectively. The report also praised Sweden and its Nordic neighbors for helping people find jobs.
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