U.S. Ranks Fifth in Best Places to Raise a Child, New Global Parenting Index Finds

“At Nestlé, we are always challenging ourselves to better understand the complexities of the parenting journey,” said Thierry Philardeau, Head of Nestlé Nutrition. “We believe finding solutions to the universal pressures faced by parents today will help them feel better supported in the decisions they make during the first crucial 1,000 days of a child’s life. And in doing so, we can strengthen our commitment to help 50 million children lead healthier and happier lives by 2020.”

In the U.S., parents feel generally positive. While they report feeling more pressure than parents in Sweden, they recognize that they have good access to health and well-being resources. Their reported areas for improvement include shared parenting responsibilities and confidence as parents, along with the desire for paid parental leave. Other notable U.S. findings include:

  • Social shaming: In the U.S., nearly half (46{b4bb8ddb70249670c85c66def16f765bd40a90ddaa69bcee7e340d9a7e1b07a9}) of parents surveyed feel intense social pressure on how to raise their children, often stemming from social media.
  • Loneliness in a hyper-connected world: 30{b4bb8ddb70249670c85c66def16f765bd40a90ddaa69bcee7e340d9a7e1b07a9} of American parents say, despite living in a world where friends and family are only a text away, it’s easy to feel isolated and lonely with a baby in their arms.
  • Baby blues: 45{b4bb8ddb70249670c85c66def16f765bd40a90ddaa69bcee7e340d9a7e1b07a9} of new American moms surveyed suffer from postpartum depression, with the U.S. ranking second behind China (47{b4bb8ddb70249670c85c66def16f765bd40a90ddaa69bcee7e340d9a7e1b07a9}) in most respondents reportedly experiencing baby blues.
  • The unexpected realities of parenthood: Nearly a third (29{b4bb8ddb70249670c85c66def16f765bd40a90ddaa69bcee7e340d9a7e1b07a9}) of American parents report feeling unprepared for the realities of becoming a parent.
  • Desire for more shared parenting responsibilities: Just over half (51{b4bb8ddb70249670c85c66def16f765bd40a90ddaa69bcee7e340d9a7e1b07a9}) of U.S. parents agree childcare responsibilities are equally shared in their household, showcasing a desire for improvement when it comes to shared parenting.

The Parenting Index methodology and findings were reviewed by Dr. Ming Cui, Professor of Family and Child Sciences at Florida State University and M.S. in Statistics and Ph.D. in Sociology, Fulbright U.S. Scholar. Professor Cui has expertise in parenting and child development across cultures, and research methodologies.

“Today’s parents are increasingly parenting in a state of anxiety, which can be reflected from findings in this report, such as the external/internal pressure, lack of confidence and financial demands they say they are experiencing,” said Professor Cui. “Influenced by popular media along with technology advances, many parents from different cultures and socio-economic classes feel pressured to do it all.”

While parents might be expected to feel more pressure as a result of COVID-19, analysis looking at the U.S., Spain and China during the pandemic in July 2020 showed otherwise. Parents with young babies reported feeling less societal pressure on how to raise their children during this period and reported feeling more mutual support during this time – including increased social cohesion and sense of belonging. 

“To promote positive parenting and ultimately children’s healthy development, parents should not overlook their own well-being and should take good care of themselves, such as leaving empty spaces on their calendar and taking a break,” suggested Cui.

Nestlé has strengthened its support of its employees who are parents by internally updating its Parenting Support Policy in the U.S. Introduced in late 2020, enhanced benefits for employees in the U.S. under the gender-neutral policy include:

  • Expanded parent support leave for primary caregivers from 14 to 18 fully-paid weeks, with a maximum total leave of 26 weeks
  • Extended leave for the parent who is not designated as the primary caregiver from one week to up to four fully-paid weeks
  • Increased leave eligibility for adoptive parents of a minor child from under one year previously, to age eighteen.

In addition to the enhanced benefits, the policy reinforces employment protections, non-discrimination, health protection and the availability of flexible working options, as well as breastfeeding support. Nestlé recognizes that individual journeys to parenthood are very different, which is why its benefits include helping eligible employees pay for adoption expenses, and medical and prescription drug coverage for infertility treatments.

The Parenting Index will be revisited and updated every two years to track how the parenting experience evolves over time.  To download a copy of the report, visit: www.theparentingindex.com.  

1 About The Parenting Index  

The Parenting Index was commissioned by Nestlé as part of its ongoing commitment to support families in the first 1,000 days of life, with a methodology developed and executed by Kantar. The Parenting Index provides a new framework for understanding the experience of parenting around the world today. 

The first edition of the Index is based on data from a survey conducted by Kantar in January and February 2020. A nationally representative sample of mothers and fathers of babies 0-12 months were surveyed in 16 countries. Wave 1 involved 8,045 interviews and Wave 2 included 900 interviews (300 in China, Spain and the US) to gauge early indications of potential impacts of the Coronavirus pandemic on the Index and was conducted in July 2020. 

2 The 11 factors which make up The Parenting Index are: 

  1. Absence of pressure (contributes 22.6{b4bb8ddb70249670c85c66def16f765bd40a90ddaa69bcee7e340d9a7e1b07a9} to the Index ranking): the internal and external pressures parents face when raising their children. Lower pressure makes parenting easier
  2. Financial resilience (16.7{b4bb8ddb70249670c85c66def16f765bd40a90ddaa69bcee7e340d9a7e1b07a9}): the level of stability on family finances. Higher resilience means less impact
  3. Supports for working life (15.6{b4bb8ddb70249670c85c66def16f765bd40a90ddaa69bcee7e340d9a7e1b07a9}): Policy and local employment protections plus access to childcare which impacts parents’ ability to stay home or go to work as they wish
  4. Easy baby (10.1{b4bb8ddb70249670c85c66def16f765bd40a90ddaa69bcee7e340d9a7e1b07a9}): As old as parenting itself: the perception that an ‘easy baby’ makes parenting easier 
  5. Health and wellbeing resources (9.0{b4bb8ddb70249670c85c66def16f765bd40a90ddaa69bcee7e340d9a7e1b07a9}): access to adequate healthcare and trusted parenting information 
  6. Supportive environment (8.0{b4bb8ddb70249670c85c66def16f765bd40a90ddaa69bcee7e340d9a7e1b07a9}): an environment that allows parents to do things they want without barriers. Parent positive and baby friendly 
  7. Shared parenting (5.8{b4bb8ddb70249670c85c66def16f765bd40a90ddaa69bcee7e340d9a7e1b07a9}): Involvement from partners and shared responsibilities 
  8. Parenting confidence (2.7{b4bb8ddb70249670c85c66def16f765bd40a90ddaa69bcee7e340d9a7e1b07a9}): how parents feel about themselves; their sense of confidence, satisfaction and resilience 
  9. Paid Maternity Leave (3.5{b4bb8ddb70249670c85c66def16f765bd40a90ddaa69bcee7e340d9a7e1b07a9}): employment-protected leave of absence for employed women directly around the time of childbirth
  10. GDP PPP per capita (3.1{b4bb8ddb70249670c85c66def16f765bd40a90ddaa69bcee7e340d9a7e1b07a9}): a measurement of prices in different countries that uses the prices of specific goods to compare the purchasing power of the countries’ currency
  11. Reverse Gini (2.8{b4bb8ddb70249670c85c66def16f765bd40a90ddaa69bcee7e340d9a7e1b07a9}): a measure of statistical dispersion intended to represent the income or wealth distribution of a nation’s residents 

About Nestlé  

Nestlé is the world’s largest food and beverage company. It is present in 187 countries around the world, and its 291,000 employees are committed to Nestlé’s purpose of unlocking the power of food to enhance quality of life for everyone, today and for generations to come. Thanks to The Parenting Index, Nestlé will be able to better support new generations of parents. To deliver real change, Nestlé is calling on everyone who shares this belief to help drive forward a new conversation that can make being a parent in today’s world easier.

About Kantar 

Kantar is the world’s leading evidence–based insights and consulting company. It has a complete, unique and rounded understanding of how people think, feel and act; globally and locally in over 90 markets. By combining deep expertise, data resources and benchmarks with innovative analytics and technology, Kantar helps their clients understand people and inspire growth.