The study from the Organization for Economic Development also shows that Turkey, Mexico, Greece, the US, New Zealand and Poland all do poorly in child well being. Iceland and Sweden are the best performing developed nations.
The Guardian story focuses on the results for the UK, writer Owen Bowcott gives us more details from the OECD report.
The report, by the Paris-based International Organisation for Economic Development (OECD), points out that Britain, although moderately well placed in the rankings, has relatively high rates of teenage pregnancy, drunkenness and young people not in education, employment or training (neets).
The survey, entitled Doing Better for Children, suggests that globally girls do better than boys and that, while bullying is on the decline, children are smoking and drinking more.
Controversially, the report proposes that "over-investment" in post-natal care may be a waste of health resources. It also says money is more effective if spent on younger children, who are more susceptible to positive change, rather than teenagers.
The UK, along with a handful of other countries, is criticised for spending "considerable amounts on single-parent benefits" that last until children are into their teens. "There is little or no evidence that these benefits positively influence child wellbeing, while they discourage single-parent employment," the study notes.
Out of 30 OECD countries, the UK does relatively well on schooling but not for social achievements. The UK spends more on children than most OECD countries, the report says, at just over £90,000 per child from birth through to the age of 18. The OECD average is just under £80,000.
But the proportion of neets in the UK is high, at more than one in 10 15- to 19-year-olds. "This is the fourth highest rate in the OECD, ahead of Italy, Turkey and Mexico," the survey says.