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Children and COVID-19 Research Library

UNICEF Innocenti's curated library of COVID-19 + Children research

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1 - 15 of 121
Addressing Covid-19's uneven impacts on vulnerable populations in Bangladesh: the case for shock-responsive social protection

AUTHOR(S)
Sarah Sabin Khan; Sarah Amena Khan

Institution: United Nations Development Programme
Published: September 2021
As in many countries worldwide, the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and its containment measures aggravated poverty in Bangladesh. Poor and vulnerable population groups were among the hardest hit.  This brief draws on key findings from a UNDP Bangladesh survey on COVID-19 impacts during the pandemic’s first wave in early 2020. It covered 2,500 UNDP beneficiary households (HHs) across the country. In addition to severe income shocks, analysis reveals that the crisis amplified existing multidimensional vulnerabilities among HHs. Existing social safety net (SSN) programmes were inadequate to address different vulnerabilities. Against this backdrop, this brief underscores the need for Bangladesh’s continued attention on reforming its social protection system to make it more employment-focused, shock-responsive and universal in line with national priorities and for COVID recovery.
Effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on caregiver mental health and the child caregiving environment in a low-resource, rural context

AUTHOR(S)
Helen O. Pitchik; Fahmida Tofail; Fahmida Akter (et al.)

Published: September 2021   Journal: Child Development
Early child development has been influenced directly and indirectly by the COVID-19 pandemic, and these effects are exacerbated in contexts of poverty. This study estimates effects of the pandemic and subsequent population lockdowns on mental health, caregiving practices, and freedom of movement among female caregivers of children 6–27 months (50% female), in rural Bangladesh. A cohort (N = 517) was assessed before and during the pandemic (May–June, 2019 and July–September, 2020). Caregivers who experienced more food insecurity and financial loss during the pandemic reported larger increases in depressive symptoms (0.26 SD, 95% CI 0.08–0.44; 0.21 SD, 0.04–0.40) compared to less affected caregivers. Stimulating caregiving and freedom of movement results were inconsistent. Increases in depressive symptoms during the pandemic may have consequences for child development.
Time use of youth during a pandemic: evidence from Mexico

AUTHOR(S)
Cynthia Boruchowicz; Susan W. Parker; Lindsay Robbins

Published: September 2021   Journal: 149
Studying how the pandemic affects the education and work of adolescents is a critical question with long lasting implications for well-being of the next generation, particularly in the developing world. The Covid-19 pandemic by mid-March 2020 had led to the closing of most educational institutions in Latin America and the Caribbean, and the region has been one of the worst hit by the pandemic (Sanmarchi et al., 2021). This paper uses the Mexican National Occupation and Employment Survey (ENOE) to provide evidence on the pandemic’s effects on school and work of youth. It measure changes in the time use of adolescents comparing patterns just before the pandemic (January to March 2020) with those at the beginning of the following school year (September 2020), controlling for pre pandemic trends and potential seasonality.
“I Must Work to Eat”: Covid-19, poverty, and child labor in Ghana, Nepal, and Uganda
Institution: Human Rights Watch
Published: September 2021

Before the Covid-19 pandemic, countries around the globe had made remarkable progress in reducing child labor. According to the International Labour Organization (ILO), the number of children in child labor decreased by approximately 94 million between 2000 and 2016, representing a drop of 38 percent. But as the pandemic caused massive school closures and unprecedented loss of jobs and income for millions of families, many children have entered the workforce to help their families survive, while others have been forced to work longer hours or enter more precarious and exploitative situations. Some have become their families’ primary breadwinners after losing a caregiver to Covid-19. Some despair of ever going back to school. This report examines the rise in child labor and poverty during the Covid-19 pandemic in three countries: Ghana, Nepal, and Uganda, the impact on children’s rights, and government responses. Each of the three countries has made significant progress reducing poverty and child labor in recent decades. Each has also made an explicit commitment as a “pathfinder” country to accelerate efforts to eradicate child labor in line with the Sustainable Development Goals.

Understanding patterns of food insecurity and family well-being amid the COVID-19 pandemic using daily surveys

AUTHOR(S)
Samantha Steimle; Anna Gassman-Pines; Anna D. Johnson (et al.)

Published: August 2021   Journal: Child Development
This paper investigates economic and psychological hardship during the COVID-19 pandemic among a diverse sample (61% Latinx; 16% White; 9% Black; 14% mixed/other race) of socioeconomically disadvantaged parents (90% mothers; mean age = 35 years) and their elementary school-aged children (ages 4–11; 49% female) in rural Pennsylvania (N = 272). Families participating in a local food assistance program reported on food insecurity (FI) and parent and child mood and behavior daily from January to May 2020. Longitudinal models revealed that FI, negative parent and child mood, and child misbehavior significantly increased when schools closed; only FI and parent depression later decreased. FI decreased most among those who received the local food assistance program; Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program receipt uniquely predicted decreases in child FI.
Depressed and socioeconomically disadvantaged mothers’ progression into a randomized controlled mobile mental health and parenting intervention: a descriptive examination prior to and during COVID-19

AUTHOR(S)
Kathleen M. Baggett; Betsy Davis; Elizabeth A. Mosley (et al.)

Published: August 2021   Journal: Frontiers in Psychology
Infants of low-income and depressed mothers are at high risk for poor developmental outcomes. Early parenting mediates infant experiences from birth, and early intervention can support sensitive and responsive parent practices that optimize infant outcomes via promoting developmental competencies. However, low-income and depressed mothers experience substantial challenges to participating in early intervention. They also have extremely limited access to interventions targeting depression. Interventions targeting maternal depression and parent practices can improve maternal and infant outcomes. Mobile internet-based interventions overcome numerous barriers that low-resource mothers face in accessing home-based interventions. Pandemic-related stressors likely reduce family resources and exacerbate distress of already heavily-burdened mother-infant dyads. During crises such as the COVID-19 pandemic, evidence-based remote coaching interventions are paramount. This article reports on a mobile intervention for improving maternal mood and increasing parent practices that promote infant development. An ongoing randomized controlled trial study provided a unique opportunity to monitor progression from referral to intervention initiation between two groups of depressed mothers: those prior to the pandemic and during the pandemic. The study also examines mother and infant characteristics at baseline. The sample consisted primarily of Black mothers experiencing extreme poverty who self-referred to the study in a large southern city, which is one of the most income disparate in the United States.
How to assess the child poverty and distributional impact of COVID-19 using household budget surveys: an application using Turkish data

AUTHOR(S)
Meltem A. Aran; Nazli Aktakke; Zehra Sena Kibar (et al.)

Published: August 2021   Journal: The European Journal of Development Research
This study presents a methodology to predict the child poverty impact of COVID19 that can be readily applied in other country contexts where similar household data are available—and illustrates this case using data from Turkey. Using Household Budget Survey 2018, the microsimulation model estimates the impact of labour income loss on household expenditures, considering that some types of jobs/sectors may be more vulnerable than others to the COVID-19 shock. Labour income loss is estimated to lead to reductions in monthly household expenditure using an income elasticity model, and expenditure-based child poverty is found to increase in Turkey by 4.9–9.3 percentage points (depending on shock severity) from a base level of 15.4%. Among the hypothetical cash transfer scenarios considered, the universal child grant for 0–17 years old children was found to have the highest child poverty reduction impact overall, while schemes targeting the bottom 20–30% of households are more cost-efective in terms of poverty reduction. The microsimulation model set out in this paper can be readily replicated in countries where similar Household Budget Surveys are available.
Society to cell: how child poverty gets “under the skin” to influence child development and lifelong health

AUTHOR(S)
Kim L. Schmidt; Sarah M. Merrill; Randip Gill (et al.)

Published: August 2021   Journal: Developmental Review
Almost one in three children globally live in households lacking basic necessities, and 356 million of these children were living in extreme poverty as of 2017. Disasters such as the COVID-19 pandemic further increase rates of child poverty due to widespread job and income loss and economic insecurity among families. Poverty leads to unequal distribution of power and resources, which impacts the economic, material, environmental and psychosocial conditions in which children live. There is evidence that poverty is associated with adverse child health and developmental outcomes in the short term, as well as increased risk of chronic diseases and mental illnesses over the life course. Over the past decade, advances in genomic and epigenomic research have helped elucidate molecular mechanisms that could in part be responsible for these long-term effects. This study reviews evidence suggestive of biological embedding of early life poverty in three, interacting physiological systems that are potential contributors to the increased risk of disease: the hypothalamic pituitary adrenal axis, the brain, and the immune system. It also reviews interventions that have been developed to both eliminate childhood poverty and alleviate its impact on pediatric development and health.
Using social media Reddit data to examine Foster Families' concerns and needs during COVID-19

AUTHOR(S)
Joyce Y. Lee; Olivia D. Chang; Tawfiq Ammari

Published: August 2021   Journal: Child Abuse & Neglect

COVID-19 is likely to have negatively impacted foster families but few data sources are available to confirm this. The current study used Reddit social media data to examine how foster families are faring in the pandemic. Discussion topics were identified and examined for changes before and after COVID-19. Comments were collected from three Reddit online discussion boards dedicated to foster families (N = 11,830).

Persistent inequality and COVID-19 holding back young people in Vietnam: evidence from the Listening to young lives at work COVID-19 phone survey

AUTHOR(S)
Kath Ford; Nguyen Thang; Le Thuc Duc

Published: August 2021

This policy brief looks at the impact of COVID-19 on the lives of young people in Vietnam, particularly those from poor households, remote and rural communities, and ethnic minority groups. While Vietnam was successful in containing the spread of COVID-19 during 2020, the recent surge in infection rates and new restrictions are likely to have significant and worsening economic and social impacts for young people. This brief focuses on the broader economic and social impacts of the pandemic, presenting findings from the Listening to Young Lives at Work COVID-19 phone survey conducted in the second half of 2020 (Favara, Crivello et al. 2021). It highlights findings from Vietnam alongside comparative analysis with the other three Young Lives study countries (Ethiopia, India and Peru), to ensure that lessons learned from countries grappling with different stages of the pandemic inform the policy recommendations. Three key areas of impact are covered: interrupted education and inequality in learning outcomes; increased domestic work, particularly for girls and young women; and current and potential longer-term mental health and well-being implications.

The challenges of inequality and COVID-19 for young people in Peru: evidence from the listening to young lives at work COVID-19 phone survey

AUTHOR(S)
Kath Ford; Santiago Cueto; Alan Sanchez

Published: August 2021

This policy brief looks at the impact of COVID-19 on the lives of adolescents and young people in Peru as they transition into adulthood, focusing on how widening inequalities are hitting those from disadvantaged backgrounds hardest. Peru continues to suffer one of the highest per capita COVID-19 death rates in the world, despite an initial strict national lockdown between March and June 2020, and subsequent regional lockdowns between July and September 2020. A second set of regional lockdowns, and new related restrictions, have been introduced since January 2021, in response to an even more devastating second wave of infections. This brief investigates the broader economic and social impacts of the pandemic, presenting policy recommendations based on findings from the Listening to Young Lives at Work COVID-19 phone survey, conducted in the second half of 2020. It focuses on five key areas of impact: interrupted education and inequality in learning outcomes; unequal access to decent jobs; worsening mental health and well-being; specific implications for girls and young women, including increased domestic work burdens; and increasing risk of domestic violence. It is part of a series of national policy briefs drawing on findings from our 2020 COVID-19 phone survey.

The state of food security and nutrition in the world 2021

This year’s The State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World (SOFI) summarizes the first global assessment of food insecurity and malnutrition for 2020 and offers some indication of what hunger and malnutrition would look like by 2030, in a scenario further complicated by the enduring effects of the pandemic. Nearly one-tenth of the world population – up to 811 million people went hungry in 2020. After remaining virtually unchanged for five years, world hunger increased last year. Further, it is projected that around 660 million people may still face hunger in 2030, 30 million more people than in a scenario in which the pandemic had not occurred, due to lasting effects of COVID-19 on global food security. The setback makes the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goal for zero hunger and ending all forms of malnutrition more challenging. The report indicates that progress has been made for some forms of malnutrition, but the world is not on track to achieve any global nutrition targets by 2030. Globally, 44 percent of infants under 6 months of age were exclusively breastfed in 2019 – up from 37 percent in 2012 but the practice varies considerably among regions. Child malnutrition still persists at an alarming rate –an estimated 149 million children were stunted, 45 million were wasted and 39 million were overweight in 2020. The report presents new projections of potential additional cases of child stunting and wasting due to COVID-19. Based on a conservative scenario, it is projected that an additional 22 million children in low- and middle-income countries will be stunted, an additional 40 million will be wasted between 2020 and 2030 due to the pandemic. Comprehensive and urgent efforts are required to address the detrimental effects of the pandemic and achieve the 2030 global targets.

The race against COVID-19: outpacing the pandemic for children in Senegal
Institution: *UNICEF
Published: July 2021

Since the first identified case on 2 March 2020 until 13 July 2021, more than 1,200 people have lost their lives, meaning that too many boys and girls suffered the tragic and permanent loss of a grandparent, parent, caregiver or loved one. More than 46,860 persons tested positive, implying that and even greater number of loved ones might have fallen ill, making it hard for them to care for family, keep plans or sustain employment. Meanwhile, almost every household in Senegal was affected by restrictions designed to contain the first wave. While the strict measures were largely successful in limiting the spread of the virus, they also affected key sectors of the economy, disrupted supply chains and markets, and affected both the demand for, and availability of, social services. Essentially, COVID-19 impacted almost every aspect of life, particularly in the first quarter of 2020, which we now recognize as the first “leg” in a multi-year, planet-wide marathon to outpace the pandemic. With the closure of schools and disruption of many basic services, child protection mechanisms also lapsed, triggering a crisis for children with considerable socio-economic costs.

Young children and the pandemic: UNICEF early childhood COVID-19 response in East Asia and the Pacific
Institution: *UNICEF
Published: July 2021

At the height of nationwide lockdowns due to the COVID-19 pandemic, more than 150 million children younger than 5 years in East Asia and the Pacific were affected. The pandemic brought service provision for young children in many of the 27 countries supported by UNICEF programmes that promote nurturing care and are essential to their optimal development to a standstill. Yet, even before the pandemic, more than 42 million children in the region were at risk of not reaching their developmental potential. Using the latest available evidence, this report summarizes the impact of the pandemic on services essential for young children’s development: For example, that the number of children younger than 5 years visiting community health centres in Viet Nam dropped by 48 per cent; that in Indonesia, more than 50 per cent of households reported not being able to meet their family’s nutritional needs; or that in the Philippines, more than 80 per cent of households experienced a decrease in their household income. Households facing disadvantages before COVID-19 – those with young children, those living in rural and remote areas and low-income households – are in most cases more disproportionally affected by the pandemic.

COVID-19 and the surge of child marriages: a phenomenon in Nusa Tenggara Barat, Indonesia

AUTHOR(S)
Maila D. H. Rahiem

Published: July 2021   Journal: Child Abuse & Neglect

Worldwide, there has been a massive increase in child marriages following the COVID-19 crisis. In Indonesia, too, this figure has risen with Indonesia ranked amongst ten countries with the highest rates of child marriage in the world. One of the Indonesian provinces with a high incidence of child marriage cases is in Nusa Tenggara Barat (NTB). This study aims to examine what is causing the rate of child marriages to increase since the outbreak of COVID-19 in NTB.

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UNICEF Innocenti's Children and COVID-19 Library is a database collecting research from around the world on COVID-19 and its impacts on children and adolescents.

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COVID-19 & Children: Rapid Research Response

UNICEF Innocenti is mobilizing a rapid research response in line with UNICEF’s global response to the COVID-19 crisis. The initiatives we’ve begun will provide the broad range of evidence needed to inform our work to scale up rapid assessment, develop urgent mitigating strategies in programming and advocacy, and preparation of interventions to respond to the medium and longer-term consequences of the COVID-19 crisis. The research projects cover a rapid review of evidence, education analysis, and social and economic policies.