CONNECT  facebook youtube pinterest twitter soundcloud
search advanced search



A new study reviews the impacts of child labour policies

Common social policy interventions can reduce child labor, but may also have unintended consequences. A new study called Effects of Public Policy on Child Labor summarizes the evidence on the relationship between policy interventions and child labor, highlights gaps in our understanding of this relationship, and discusses implications for program design. The paper was prepared by researchers at UNICEF Office of Research – Innocenti, Carleton University, the International Labour Organization, and the World Bank.Building on a literature review, the study examines how social protection programs and labor market policies affect child labor supply. “A few results stand out. Programs that reduce poverty and increase resilience in the face of economic shocks, such as cash transfer programs, tend to increase household investment in education and reduce reliance on children for income generation,” said Jacob de Hoop, Social Policy Specialist at UNICEF Innocenti and one of the new study’s authors.Effects of programs that also increase the labor supply of adult household members are harder to predict. While these policies may increase household income, they may also increase children’s return to work. Adults who participate in public works programs, for instance, may rely on their children to take over some economic activities and household chores.  According to de Hoop, “Most interventions can have offsetting effects on the complex intra-household decision making process that determines child labor supply. We therefore turned to the empirical literature to better understand the key pathways through which common policy interventions affect child labor and to aggregate lessons for program types.”The study suggests that programs that may potentially increase child labor supply could be modified to avoid adverse effects. Rigorous evidence on potential modifications, such as making child labor a more salient issue for program beneficiaries, would be useful.The authors further note that there are questions around the implications of policy-induced changes in child labor supply for child wellbeing. Some forms of work can be innocuous or beneficial to the child, while other forms may be harmful. Yet, few studies examine detrimental (or beneficial) aspects of child work, such as excessive working hours and exposure to work-related hazards.A US Department of Labor funded research initiative at UNICEF Office of Research – Innocenti aims to address some of these challenging outstanding questions, building on data collected as part of the Transfer Project in Malawi, Tanzania, and Zambia. (22 March 2017) 
facebook twitter linkedin google+ reddit print email

Parenting interventions are effective when transported from one country to another

There is strong evidence that behavioural parenting programmes improve caregiver-child relationships, reduce child problem behaviour, and prevent physical and emotional violence against children. Many governments, international organizations and non-governmental organizations, which address child maltreatment and youth problem behaviour, are promoting widespread roll-out of parenting programmes.A new Innocenti Research Brief, Parenting Interventions: How well do they transport from one country to another?, written by Professor Frances Gardner of the Centre for Evidence-Based Intervention, Department of Social Policy and Intervention, University of Oxford, summarizes her team’s recent findings from two global, systematic reviews (here and here) of the effectiveness of parenting interventions. UNICEF offices have become increasingly interested in introducing parenting support into their programming, with a focus ranging from violence prevention to early childhood development. To date, the majority of evaluations that show the effects of parenting programmes are from high-income countries, although there is a growing list of rigorous, randomized trials from low- and middle-income countries, including Indonesia, Iran, Liberia and Panama. UNICEF Office of Research – Innocenti has worked on research related to support for families and parents since 2013. In particular, Innocenti supported research on the Sinovuyo Caring Families Programme for parents and Teens, by partnering with Oxford University in doing qualitative research that examined service delivery mechanisms and implications for taking it to scale. This study complemented the randomized control trial. As interest in parenting programmes grows, policymakers, service providers and others are faced with a range of decisions, including whether to import an intervention from another country or region (which may have very different cultural values), or whether to develop one locally. We use the term ‘transport’ to refer to moving a programme from one country to another. Developing a new programme is time-consuming and costly. Established parenting programmes – those with the best evidence of effectiveness – have been designed using decades’ worth of knowledge and behavioural research. The two recent reviews summarized in the new Innocenti Research Brief investigated the transportability of parenting interventions. The first looked at whether interventions are effective when they are transported from one country to another, and whether differences in cultural factors or family policy regimes could influence effectiveness. The second tested directly whether locally developed or transported programmes are more effective. Findings of the same review suggested that interventions transported from the United States and Australia to other high-income countries in a largely European or North American cultural context, showed comparable effect sizes to those in the country of origin. However, effect sizes were higher when the same interventions were transported to regions that were culturally more distant: Asia; Latin America; and the Middle East. (17 March 2017)
facebook twitter linkedin google+ reddit print email

Experimental Panel Data on the Government of Kenya’s Unconditional Cash Transfer Released

Research that is open, available and transparent for academics, implementers, donors and the public includes ensuring that data is free and accessible. This push for ‘open science’ and promoting openness in research is expected to encourage increased knowledge generation, collaboration, diffusion of results and replication, among others. With this vision in mind, the longitudinal evaluation data from the Government of Kenya’s Cash Transfer for Orphans and Vulnerable Children (CT-OVC) has just been released. This is the first data to be released through the Transfer Project, a joint partnership between national governments and UNICEF Country Offices, FAO, Save the Children UK and the University of North Carolina, including a core set of researchers from the UNICEF Office of Research--Innocenti.The Government of Kenya supported the release of the three-wave household panel of data collected in 2007, 2009 and 2011 as part of a cluster randomized controlled trial, to evaluate the impact of Kenya’s CT-OVC programme. The data package contains primary datasets from individual/household surveys and community surveys. There are also several supplementary datasets that provide additional information on tracking and attrition. Although topics addressed vary slightly across the surveys, all three waves contain information on topics including consumption and expenditure, health, education, and productivity of recipient (treatment group) and non-recipient households (comparison group).Evaluation data has been used to understand how unconditional cash transfers have benefited poor households, communities and through which channels impacts have been realized. Over the four years of the evaluation period, the programme had impacts on household expenditure and poverty, food consumption and increased human capital of school-age children and time preferences of adults. Additionally, during the critical time of youth transitioning to adulthood, the programme delayed sexual debut, reduced the likelihood of early pregnancy and reduced odds of depressive symptoms among youth in beneficiary households. Evaluation findings have contributed to the scale-up of the programme, now reaching over 360,000 households nationally.By making the research data open, the measurement data and the source codes that produced results are now made available. This benefits researchers who can reanalyse the data and the findings, and may even be encouraged to carry out new, innovative research. Providing access to the data also appeals to donors who allocate public funding to research: if the public paid for the data collection, there should be open, public access to this information.Currently, steps are being taken by the Transfer Project to prepare more collected data for release. The Project has recognized from its inception the centrality of openly sharing information to facilitate learning and achieve its goal of informing better design and implementation of social protection programmes. All project partners are committed to the importance of this project as a public good and to the promotion of learning in the region, and beyond. For each of the cash transfer programmes, the project aims to make data, instruments and evaluation reports open and accessible.See the Transfer Project webpage for more information on the Kenya CT-OVC programme and research findings, and the Innocenti webpage for more information on cash transfer work at the Office of Research—Innocenti.  (7 March 2017)
facebook twitter linkedin google+ reddit print email

Global research partnership on child internet use expands

Important new findings from the Global Kids Online (GKO) research partnership for Bulgaria have recently been made public, while researchers in Chile have just finished nation-wide data collection and are preparing to launch their report in April. In parallel, two new GKO programmes have been initiated in Ghana and the Philippines, where the teams are currently preparing for nationally representative data collection utilizing the GKO research toolkit.Jasmina Byrne, child protection specialist at UNICEF Innocenti and one of the principal investigators on the project explained how evidence on child internet use could have positive policy implications.“Rigorous evidence on children’s internet use can help international and national policy makers develop balanced and informed policy choices that take account of both opportunities and risks. We are delighted to see more countries come on board with the research partnership.”The latest evidence produced by the GKO partnership is based on a national representative survey of 1,000 children in Bulgaria aged 9 to 17 years old and their parents. The findings reveal that children who are deeply exposed to internet use and have a high level of technical digital skill do not always use the full range of online opportunities, and they do not always respond proactively to upsetting online content. Children are accessing the internet on their own at ever younger ages, often unsupervised, raising important questions about the balance between online risks and opportunities and children’s online safety. Findings from Bulgaria show how the average age of first internet use has dropped to 8 years old over the past 6 years. More than 90 per cent use the internet daily and 80 per cent of these children spend at least one hour online per day.  “Today’s Bulgarian children are real digital natives. Most of them use internet and mobile communications almost all the time and often have digital skills superior to those of their parents,” said Georgi Apostolov, coordinator of the Bulgarian Safer Internet Centre which carried out the survey.“This is probably the main reason why parents seems to have reduced the supervision and mediation compared to 6 years ago. However, children start using internet at an earlier age, so they need more mediation in order to develop the necessary social and media skills that will allow them to benefit from the opportunities the internet provides.”Bulgaria becomes the latest country to join the Global Kids Online research partnership, a project that aims to build a global network of researchers and experts in order to generate and sustain cross national evidence on the opportunities and risks of child internet use. Pilot studies utilising the toolkit among children aged 9 – 17 were originally conducted in Argentina, the Philippines, Serbia and South Africa (an overview of key findings from the pilot study can be read here.) Since then, the project has expanded to countries including Montenegro, Ghana and Chile. The GKO pilot study released in late 2016 also found that on average 8 in 10 children accessed the internet via smartphones. More internet access comes with higher exposure to online risk and the safety of children online depends on their digital skills. Better skills also allow children to take more advantage of the opportunities that the internet affords them. A majority of children also report learning new skills online. Around 70 per cent of Bulgarian children report that they learn new things from the Internet every week and almost all of them (96 per cent) agree that the internet offers a lot of useful things for children their age. Half of all children use the internet for schoolwork and 45 per cent to look for news online. Child searches for health information are rare, even among older teenagers. In fact, children in Bulgaria use the internet most often for leisure and entertainment activities, such as watching videos (89 per cent), listening to music (86 per cent), and visiting social networking sites (73 per cent). Playing games and posting pictures and comments are also popular. While children in Bulgaria use the internet to create content rather rarely, they seem competent internet users. Most know how to save a photo they found online (86 per cent), find it easy to choose terms for their online searches (78 per cent), or how to install an app (77 per cent) and check mobile app prices (67 per cent). They are also able to access their information from various devices they use (70 per cent) and know how to change the privacy settings of their online profiles (73 per cent). The increased use of the internet, however, has created more exposure to risk, especially for older children. Over the past year, 15 per cent of children in Bulgaria have experienced something online that bothered or upset them compared to 9 per cent in 2010. About one third of all survey participants have seen online pornographic content, which was upsetting for almost half of these children. A third of the children have encountered online hate speech or seen violent online materials, including images and videos of murders and executions, which was exceptionally or very upsetting for nearly half of the children. Most children talk to family and friends when they experience something negative online but nearly one in 5 children do not speak to anybody. Parents and carers are the main source of support (70 per cent of children turn to them), followed by friends (36 per cent) and siblings (12 per cent). Teachers or other professionals are very rarely sought for support in such cases (respectively 4 and 1 per cent respectively). In addition, a significant number of children (18 per cent) do not talk to anybody and this proportion has increased considerably since 2010 (4 per cent). For more information, visit Join the conversation on social media at #GlobalKidsOnline. (14 February 2017)
facebook twitter linkedin google+ reddit print email


Is longitudinal research the best response to the ‘post-truth’ order?

by Prerna Banati
(2017-03-10) Longitudinal studies are an irreplaceable resource for understanding trajectories, transitions and shocks over time. Undeniably, the UK leads the world in tracking the li ...

The social realities of making evidence matter in development

by Sarah Cook
(2017-03-06) Knowledge and evidence for policy and practice matters in any context. But critical scrutiny of the evidence to policy process is particularly important in development co ...