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UNICEF Innocenti's complete catalogue of international peer reviewed journals

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Measurement of Multidimensional Child Poverty

Alessandro Carraro, Lucia Ferrone

Published: 2020

Multidimensional child poverty defines children who experience a state of poverty that is more complex than that defined by a unidimensional measure of poverty, but encompasses child material needs and human rights, in a holistic way.

The definition of child poverty agreed by the UN General Assembly was used by Gordon, Townsend, and their colleagues from the University of Bristol for their study on child poverty in the developing world (Gordon et al. ). It gives full weight to material deprivation as the main element of child poverty, stating that children living in poverty are deprived in multiple domains of their lives (i.e., nutrition, water and sanitation, education, shelter, and protection among others) and that the lack of goods and access to services can represent a severe threat for their growth and development (United Nations General Assembly ).

Multidimensional child poverty encompasses the various deprivations experienced by children in their daily lives....

Beyond internal validity: Towards a broader understanding of credibility in development policy research

Gustavo Angeles, Sudhanshu Handa, Amber Peterman, et al...

Published: 2020
We provide evidence from the Transfer Project to show that methodological design is only one factor in determining credibility in the eyes of policymakers. Policymakers understand concerns around internal validity, but also value collaborative research engagement, which builds trust, allows co-creation of research questions, informs operations throughout the evaluation period and leverages national research expertise. Further, the mere act of engaging in a large-scale, transparent impact evaluation, across quasi- and experimental designs can change the culture of decision-making within an agency, leading to better policy choices in the long run. We advocate for a more inclusive approach to policy research that begins with identifying the most relevant research question and fitting the methods to the question rather than vice-versa. We challenge the field to engage more closely with policymakers to identify their evidence needs in order to prioritize the end objective of improving the lives of the poor—regardless of methodological design choices.
Perspectives of adolescent and young adults on poverty-related stressors: a qualitative study in Ghana, Malawi and Tanzania

Brian J. Hall, Melissa Garabiles, Jacobus de Hoop, Audrey Pereira, Leah Prencipe, Tia Palermo

Published: 2019
Although participants were asked to provide general reflections about stress in their community, the salience of poverty-related stressors was ubiquitously reflected in respondents’ responses. Poverty-related stressors affect development, well-being and gender-based violence. Future research should focus on interventions to alleviate poverty-related stress to achieve the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.
How to Reach the Sustainable Development Goal 1.2? Simulating Different Strategies to Reduce Multidimensional Child Poverty in Two Middle-Income Countries

Lucia Ferrone, Yekaterina Chzhen

Published: 2017
Although the UN Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) have contributed to substantial progress in reducing the number of people living on less than $1.25 a day since 1990, it is now generally accepted that poverty goes beyond the simple lack of income. The new Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) adopted by all member states of the United Nations (UN) in September 2015 call for “reducing at least by half the proportion of men, women and children of all ages living in poverty in all its dimensions according to national definitions” by 2030 (UNDESA 2016). Although there must be numerous ways of achieving this goal, research evidence on reducing multidimensional poverty is scarce. This paper investigates possible strategies for halving MD poverty among children using the case studies of Armenia and Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH). Both Armenia and BiH conducted multidimensional child poverty studies in 2014–2016 based on nationally agreed definitions and using secondary data from representative household budget surveys. This analysis compares two approaches to halving the rate of multidimensional poverty among children aged 5–15 by employing static simulations: 1) reducing deprivation headcount in two to three key dimensions and 2) increasing monetary transfers to the consumption-poor
Cite this publication | No. of pages: 1-18 | Tags: SDGs, child poverty
Measuring Multidimensional Child Poverty in the Era of the Sustainable Development Goals

Yekaterina Chzhen, David Gordon, Sudhanshu Handa

Published: 2017
The new global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), agreed to by governments of the world in 2015, present an unprecedented opportunity for social progress for the new generation of children and young people (UNICEF and Global Coalition to End Child Poverty 2017). Goal 1 calls for “reducing at least by half the proportion of men, women and children of all ages living in poverty in all its dimensions according to national definitions” (Target 1.2) by 2030 (United Nations 2015). The wording of Target 1.2 is significant because for the first time a global poverty goal includes children explicitly and recognizes the multidimensional nature of poverty. It is also the first time that a global poverty goal applies equally to rich and poor countries and refers explicitly to national definitions.
Cite this publication | No. of pages: 1-3 | Tags: child poverty, SDGs
Multidimensional Child Poverty in three Countries in Sub-Saharan Africa

Lucia Ferrone, Marlous de Milliano

Published: 2017
This paper describes and reviews the process of constructing a Multidimensional Child Poverty Measure in three sub-Saharan Africa countries: Mali, Malawi, and Tanzania. These countries recently (in 2015 and 2014) constructed a measure of multidimensional child poverty using UNICEF’s Multiple Overlapping Deprivation Analysis (MODA) methodology and conducted a comprehensive child poverty study including both deprivation and monetary poverty. This work describes how the methodology was adapted in the different contexts, discussing critical issues that arose during the study process, and compares the results of the three studies. The goal is to offer an overview of the different national processes and determine how similar or different factors influence the results.
Multidimensional Poverty Among Adolescents in 38 Countries: Evidence from the Health Behaviour in School-aged Children (HBSC) 2013/14 Study

Yekaterina Chzhen, Zlata Bruckauf, Emilia Toczydlowska, Frank Elgar, Conception Moreno-Maldonado, Gonneke W.J.M. Stevens, Dagmar Sigmudova, Geneviève Gariépy

Published: 2017
This study applied UNICEF’s Multiple Overlapping Deprivation Analysis (MODA) framework to adolescents (aged 11, 13 and 15) in 37 European countries and Canada using data from the 2013/14 Health Behaviour in School-aged Children survey. It is one of the first applications of MODA based entirely on data collected from adolescents themselves rather than from household reference persons on their behalf. Unlike most other multidimensional child poverty studies, the present analysis focuses on non-material, relational aspects of child poverty. Substantial cross-country variation was found in the prevalence of adolescent deprivations in nutrition, perceived health, school environment, protection from peer violence, family environment and information access. These single dimensions of poverty did not closely relate to national wealth and income inequality. However, when we looked at deprivation in three or more dimensions (i.e., multidimensional poverty), we found association with income inequality. In most countries, girls were at a higher risk of multidimensional poverty than boys. In addition, adolescents who lived with both parents in the household or reported higher family wealth were consistently less poor than other adolescents, in both single and multiple dimensions. The results of this study show the interconnectedness of social (family, school support) and psychological (health and violence) dimensions of poverty for adolescents in higher income countries. Children poor in the domains of family and school environment are also likely to be poor in terms of perceived health and protection from peer violence.
Multidimensional Child Deprivation and Poverty Measurement: Case Study of Bosnia and Herzegovina

Yekaterina Chzhen, Lucia Ferrone

Published: 2017
This study applies UNICEF’s rights-based multiple overlapping deprivation analysis framework to a single country case study—Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH). Using data from the Extended Living Standards Measurement Survey 2011 for children aged 5–15, the paper analyses the incidence and intensity of multidimensional child deprivation and examines its relationship to household-based monetary poverty, drawing on differences between rural and urban areas. Seven dimensions of deprivation have been identified using the child rights framework: Nutrition, Clothing, Educational Resources, Leisure, Social Participation, Information and Housing. We find that the majority of school-age children in BiH are deprived in one or more dimensions and one in four are deprived in three or more dimensions out of seven. Children in consumption poor households are more likely to be deprived in every dimension analysed separately and in a greater number of dimensions at once. Nevertheless, the degree of overlap between poverty and multidimensional deprivation is moderate, suggesting that child deprivation cannot be eradicated solely by increasing households’ consumption capacity. Finally, the study finds no significant differences by type of area in multidimensional deprivation rates for consumption-poor children aged 5–15. In contrast, non-poor children in rural areas are substantially more likely to be deprived in three or more dimensions at once than their counterparts in urban areas. Overall, these results call for a multifaceted policy approach targeting both the demand for and supply of children’s goods and services.
Poverty and perceived stress: Evidence from two unconditional cash transfer programs in Zambia

Jacobus de Hoop, Tia Palermo, Lisa Hjelm, Sudhanshu Handa

Published: 2017


Poverty is a chronic stressor that can lead to poor physical and mental health. This study examines whether two similar government poverty alleviation programs reduced the levels of perceived stress and poverty among poor households in Zambia.


Secondary data from two cluster randomized controlled trials were used to evaluate the impacts of two unconditional cash transfer programs in Zambia. Participants were interviewed at baseline and followed over 36 months. Perceived stress among female caregivers was assessed using the Cohen Perceived Stress Scale (PSS). Poverty indicators assessed included per capita expenditure, household food security, and (nonproductive) asset ownership. Fixed effects and ordinary least squares regressions were run, controlling for age, education, marital status, household demographics, location, and poverty status at baseline.


Cash transfers did not reduce perceived stress but improved economic security (per capita consumption expenditure, food insecurity, and asset ownership). Among these poverty indicators, only food insecurity was associated with perceived stress. Age and education showed no consistent association with stress, whereas death of a household member was associated with higher stress levels.


In this setting, perceived stress was not reduced by a positive income shock but was correlated with food insecurity and household deaths, suggesting that food security is an important stressor in this context. Although the program did reduce food insecurity, the size of the reduction was not enough to generate a statistically significant change in stress levels. The measure used in this study appears not to be correlated with characteristics to which it has been linked in other settings, and thus, further research is needed to examine whether this widely used perceived stress measure appropriately captures the concept of perceived stress in this population.

Cite this publication | No. of pages: 110-117 | Tags: cash transfers, child poverty
Unemployment, social protection spending and child poverty in the European Union during the Great Recession

Yekaterina Chzhen

Published: 2016
The 2008 financial crisis triggered the first contraction of the world economy in the post-war era. This article investigates the effect of the Great Recession on child poverty across the EU-27 plus Iceland, Norway and Switzerland and studies the extent to which social protection spending may have softened the negative impact of the economic crisis on children. While the risks of child poverty are substantially higher in countries with higher rates of working-age unemployment, suggesting a significant impact of the Great Recession on household incomes via the labour market, the study finds evidence for social protection spending cushioning the blow of the crisis at least to some extent. Children were significantly less likely to be poor in countries with higher levels of social protection spending in 2008–2013, even after controlling for the socio-demographic structure of the population, per capita gross domestic product (GDP) and the working-age unemployment rate. The poverty-dampening contextual effect of social spending was greater for the poverty risks of children in very low work intensity families and large families. The study uses two complementary thresholds of income poverty, both based on 60 percent of the national median: a relative poverty line and a threshold anchored in 2008. Although the choice of a poverty line makes a difference to aggregate child poverty rates, individual-level risks of a child being poor associated with a range of household-level characteristics are similar for the two poverty lines.
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