Can researchers and journalists find a common language?
Main stream media outlets are facing threats from all sides. Often criticised as sensationalist, news media preoccupation with scandal, corruption and violence is increasingly being called into question.
From a human face to human emotion: valuing feelings in development
Thirty years ago UNICEF reminded the world that development had a human face. Making up for the “lost decade” of the Eighties did not have to be funded through macroeconomic management, debt service or growth recovery alone. How relevant that reminder continues to be today.
Piloting a research toolkit on child internet use in rural South Africa
When the scope of a research project on child internet use spans multiple countries with vast cultural, economic and social variation, navigating the differences presents formidable challenges. For the Global Kids Online network, a research initiative tackling these challenges is crucial
UNICEF works on social protection programs in over 100 countries, and many are expanding rapidly. In discussions with stakeholders, there are two gender assumptions we hear repeatedly:giving benefits to women (rather than men) will result in better outcomes – particularly for childrentransfers will increase women’s empowerment.In other words, paying attention to gender is important not only to deliver better programme results, but also as its own objective. But are these assumptions based on evidence?While the claims are promising, we actually know less about them than we should. The primary reason for uncertainty is that gender dynamics are highly contextual and their effect on outcomes varies according to underlying cultural norms. As a consequence, it has been hard to land on a global consensus on both topics.
Mapping inequality for child well-being in rich countries
Research on inequality often loses sight of where children stand in relation to one another.The new Innocenti Report Card Fairness for Children: A league table of inequality in child well-being in rich countries looks at differences between children at the bottom of the inequality ladder, and their peers in the middle, across 41 advanced economies. The report ranks countries according to how far they allow their most disadvantaged children to fall behind in income, educational achievement, self-reported health and life satisfaction. Denmark does best in the overall ranking, with consistently low inequality in four different domains, while Israel and Turkey come out as the most unequal.Inequality tends to evolve over time. Report Card 13 places countries into separate groups based on the pathways behind these changes. For example, the study measures income inequality as the gap between the incomes of the 10th percentile and the median as a percentage of the median. Thus, bottom-end income inequality can increase for two different reasons:The median grows faster than the 10th percentile ORThe 10th percentile shrinks faster than the median Out of 37 rich countries for which trend data are available, 13 countries saw a substantial increase in the relative income gap among children under 18 between 2008 and 2013. In five of these countries, the median increased faster than the 10th percentile, which may have remained the same or even decreased – Canada, France, Israel, Slovakia and Sweden. The other eight countries experienced an increase in income inequality because both the median and the 10th percentile decreased, but the bottom of the distribution shrank faster. This group includes five southern European countries (Cyprus, Greece, Italy, Spain and Portugal) and three eastern European countries (Estonia, Hungary and Slovenia). Only four countries managed to lift incomes of households with children both at the bottom and the middle of the distribution, with a greater relative increase in the 10th percentile: the Czech Republic, Finland, the Republic of Korea and Switzerland.
Cash transfers and fertility: new evidence from Africa
Social cash transfers are an increasingly popular tool in African national governments’ social protectionstrategies, but a question that often comes up about their use is will such programmes – targeted to families with young children – encourage parents to have larger families in a region with stubbornly high fertility rates? Researchers at UNICEF’s Office of Research-Innocenti conducted rigorous analysis using data from the Transfer Project to find out.Social transfer programmes have protective impacts on a range of well-being, economic and protection outcomes among children and their family members. However, implementing the programmes hits a major barrier in some countries due to a belief that transfers aimed at households with young children will encourage families to have more children to obtain or maintain eligibility. In sub-Saharan Africa, fertility declines have occurred more slowly than in other regions and the total fertility rate still stands at 5.1 (the highest of any region globally). Thus, unintended consequences like fertility incentives are understandably a concern for policymakers designing social policy.
As a UNICEF communicator I’d bet that the widespread acceptance of corporal punishment – spanking, slapping, hitting, etc., a practice that seems to cross all boundaries – is one of the toughest challenges we face. Indeed, despite near universal ratification of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, only 8% of the world’s children are fully protected from being physically abused by adults.Why is corporal punishment unquestioned by so many?Answers may be in short supply, but a new discussion paper from the UNICEF Office of Research, Corporal Punishment in Schools: Longitudinal evidence from Ethiopia, India, Peru and Vietnam sheds important new light on the terrible damage this practice inflicts on children in the course of their education. Produced by the Young Lives Longitudinal Study on Child Poverty as part of the Office of Research multi-country study on violence affecting children, the paper gives a rare look at how teacher punishment in school affects children over time. The evidence is quite clear, with negative impacts observed at age 12, especially in decreased math scores, among many of the children who had experienced corporal punishment at age 8, compared with those who had not experienced it. These findings have been extensively controlled for community factors and previous school performance.The study also presents data which underlines how widespread corporal punishment can be. Among the 12,000 children studied from half to ninety percent, depending on the country, reported seeing a teacher beating a student in the last week.