Drum roll, please… Norway is the best country in Europe to start a family a study has revealed.
Obviously, from a strictly nationalistic point, this warms my little Norwegian heart. But surprising? No. Not coming from someone who has given birth in a fantastic Oslo hospital twice (public, of course, there is no such thing as private when it comes to maternity care in Norway, it is simply not needed), and enjoyed maternity leave twice. And maternity leave in Norway is a generous (and in my opinion needed) 12 month. On your normal salary. By law – no matter who you work for.
Oh, and in Norway, it is called parental leave and split between mothers and fathers, with 14 weeks designated for dads.
And when you have come to the end of your parental leave, the vast majority of Norwegian babies go into state-subsidized daycare, which usually cost in the region of €300 per month. So that mum can go back and actually also enjoy her career and education, just like dads get to. (Which, of course, also has the benefit of making Norway one of the best countries in the world when it comes to gender balance and pay equality in the workplace…)
And to top this pretty little arrangement off, office hour ends at 4 PM, creches often close at 4.30, so that by 5 PM, you are home to enjoy your afternoon and evening as a family.
According to the study by money saving website , they looked at factors like maternity, paternity and other parental benefits across Europe, taking into consideration both state and employer contributions when deciding on a winner. And in Norway, parents can expect to receive an average of £52,780 in benefits, the equivalent of 15 months of the average national pay.
In general, the Nordic countries are a pretty great place to start a family, according to this study. Fellow Scandinavian country Sweden was second, while Finland and Denmark were fifth and sixth respectively. The UK meanwhile comes in after France in eighth place, and guess who trailed in at the very bottom of the list? Ireland.