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The Child Development Index
Detail: The Child Development Index (CDI) developed by Save the Children is an index that combines performance measures specific to children such as primary education, child health and child nutrition. It combines each country’s performance to produce a score on a scale of 0 to 100. Higher the score worse are children faring in that country. Save the Children measured child well-being over 3 periods from 1990. Japan is in first place, scoring just 0.4. Niger in Africa is in 137th place, with the highest score, 58, in 2000-2006.

Overall, child well-being has improved by 34% since 1990, but progress is slow. This index tells us how children in a country are faring and is a tool for informed decision making on behalf of children.

A summary of findings for developing regions and countries:

Children are doing worse in Sub-Saharan Africa than any other region. Africa scores 35 in the Index, reflecting the high level of deprivation in primary schooling, child health and child nutrition. It is also making the slowest progress, improving child well-being by only 20% over 1990-2006.

East Asia has made considerable progress in child well-being in recent years, improving it by 45% over 1990-2006. South Asia has a high level of deprivation, scoring 26.4; this is 3 times worse than East Asia. It is also making slow progress, improving child well-being by just 32% over 1990-2006 (compared to East Asia’s 45% improvement).

Latin America and the Caribbean made substantial progress in improving child well-being in the 1990s, scoring 6.8 in the index of child deprivation, the lowest of any developing country region. It made the most percentage improvement of any region in the world, reducing child deprivation by 57% over the period, 1990-2006.

The Middle East and North Africa region scores 11.2 in our index, worse than East Asia but only a third as bad as Sub-Saharan Africa, and has reduced its level of child deprivation by 41% over 1990-06.

The region containing Central & Eastern Europe and the Commonwealth of Independent States, for which data are much sparser in the early 1990s, saw an improvement of almost 15% in its Index score between 1995-99 and 2000-06.

Summary of findings for developed nations:

Child Development Index shows that there is a low level of deprivation in developed countries in the three basic areas of child rights that it measures. On a scale of 0-100, these countries score 2.1, the lowest regional Index score worldwide. There is still some variation between these countries however; for example the United States has a child mortality rate that is twice of Japan’s and worse even than that of Cuba’s.
Date: December 19 2008