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Innocenti blog posts are published on UNICEF connect - Evidence for Action blog
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The internet of opportunities: what children say
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The internet of opportunities: what children say

“We grew up with the internet. I mean, the internet has always been here with us. The grown-ups are like ‘Wow the internet appeared’, while it is perfectly normal for us.” –Boy, 15 years old, Serbia
Why research should be a priority in the global response to the child migration crisis
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Why research should be a priority in the global response to the child migration crisis

Rayyan Sabet-Parry, consultant at UNICEF Innocenti, speaks to Bina D’Costa, migration specialist at UNICEF Innocenti
Piloting a research toolkit on child internet use in rural South Africa
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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
Cash transfers: What’s gender got to do with it?
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Cash transfers: What’s gender got to do with it?

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
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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
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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.
Can data help end corporal punishment?
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Can data help end corporal punishment?

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.
It’s Payday! What a cash transfer looks like in Ghana
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It’s Payday! What a cash transfer looks like in Ghana

Cash transfer programs have become an increasingly popular component of social protection strategies across sub-Saharan Africa. These programs provide monthly payments to poor and vulnerable households and can lead to multiple demonstrated benefits, such as the improvement of health and education among young people, and impacting the local economy. Recently, the Government of Ghana expanded the Livelihood Empowerment Against Poverty (LEAP) Program, which assists extremely poor households (defined by those that live on less than $1.10 USD per day) that contain orphans and vulnerable children, the elderly and those with disabilities. The expansion, known as LEAP 1000, now includes extremely poor households with pregnant women and infants and focuses on children in the first 1000 days of life. Through the cash transfer payment, LEAP 1000 is expected to improve children’s nutritional status and reduce stunting, both common problems in Ghana.
Doing impact evaluation in a remote region of Ghana
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Doing impact evaluation in a remote region of Ghana

What do snakes, flat batteries, limited privacy, and identifying a suitable cut-off point have in common? As I recently observed, they are some of the many challenges that can occur when conducting an impact evaluation in a remote village.On a recent trip to Ghana, we observed baseline data collection for an evaluation of the Ghana Livelihood Empowerment Against Poverty (LEAP) 1000 cash transfer programme. The programme is administered by the Government of Ghana with technical support from UNICEF and targets households with women who are pregnant or have children under the age of 12 months. The impact evaluation is taking place in five programme districts and has a target sample size of 2,500 households: half from the treatment group and half from the comparison group. Because it wasn’t possible to randomly assign participants to a control group and carry out a Randomized Controlled Trial (RCT), the evaluation uses another rigorous approach called Regression Discontinuity Design (RDD; see page 7 of Brief 8 for a description). The results will inform the Ghanaian government of changes in families’ lives caused by cash transfers and inform future delivery of similar programmes.
Best of UNICEF Research 2015
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Best of UNICEF Research 2015

The Office of Research – Innocenti has just released the third edition of its annual publication Best of UNICEF Research 2015. With each edition we learn more about a key element in a global development organization’s effort to gather evidence. Over the course of its existence Best of UNICEF Research has grown in terms of the quality of research represented, the range and complexity of research questions addressed and in the programmatic and geographic scope of the submissions.Research is an essential part of UNICEF’s effort to improve the situation of the world’s children. Quality data gathering, appraisal and analysis can fuel informed decision making and planning, assess intervention impact, question practices and improve policy discourse. High quality research is carried out across the full breadth of UNICEF offices and locations. But often, especially in country offices, it is undertaken with a sharp focus on how it can support programmes for children in particular contexts. Best of UNICEF Research is now a vital tool for increasing organization-wide learning and sharing about quality research.
Why we need more research on children’s use of the Internet
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Why we need more research on children’s use of the Internet

It is becoming difficult to imagine a day in a teenagers’ life – in all parts of the globe – without internet access: to socialize with peers, seek information, watch videos, post photos and news updates or play games. As the internet rapidly penetrates all regions, children’s experiences worldwide are increasingly informed by their use of information and communication technologies (ICTs).The ITU estimates that by the end of 2015, 3.2 billion people will be using the internet, 2 billion of which will be in developing countries. This exponential growth is largely attributable to the rapid spread of mobile broadband technology with 3G mobile coverage reaching close to 70% of the total world population.
Giving girls a chance
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Giving girls a chance

Mounting evidence from systematic reviews, such as these on early childbearing and HIV risk, suggest that cash transfers have positive impacts on youth transitions into adulthood. Yet, data illustrating howthese programs affect outcomes is generally scarce.Now new research from the UNICEF Office of Research-Innocenti and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, published in Social Science & Medicine, recently presents evidence of these impacts, suggesting that unconditional cash transfer programs targeting orphans and vulnerable children may significantly reduce the likelihood of early pregnancy.
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