Where's the Best Place to Be a Working Mom? Not the US

Every year, the nonprofit organization Save the Children ranks the best and worst countries in which to be a mother, based on factors like maternal health, economic status, and educational attainment. This year, the US ranked 31st out of 178 countries. Here's why that matters to you and your career.

businesswoman biking 

(Photo Credit: aka Jens Rost/Flickr)

The top five countries on Save the Children's list are:

1. Finland

2. Norway

3. Sweden

4. Iceland

5. The Netherlands

What do those countries have in common? All five have universal healthcare, in which the state sponsors the majority of citizen's healthcare costs, and offer at least three months -- and often many more -- of maternity leave, paid at 70 percent of the mother's salary or higher. In addition, several countries offer shared parental leave, enabling parents to equally share the responsibilities of childcare and work right from the start.

In some countries, like Sweden, fathers have to take their parental leave time, or lose it altogether. Since it can't be transferred to the mother and added onto her allotment, Swedish men are increasingly taking advantage of the benefit, taking 24 percent of leave in 2012.

In short, better healthcare and leave policies make it easier for women to balance career and family. Government support for the families of working women translates into support for their career success, not just their health outside of work.

Tell Us What You Think

Do you think the US should offer paid parental leave? We want to hear from you! Leave a comment or join the discussion on Twitter.

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