Logo UNICEF Innocenti
Office of Research-Innocenti
menu icon

Too little, too late

An assessment of public spending on children by age in 84 countries
Too little, too late: An assessment of public spending on children by age in 84 countries

Author(s)

Dominic Richardson; David Harris; Sophie Mackinder; John Hudson

 

Publication series:
Innocenti Research Report

Download the report

(PDF, 0.87 MB)(PDF, 0.09 MB)

Abstract

This report is a first attempt to inform the development of comprehensive and integrated child policy portfolios globally, by mapping and reviewing how much public money is spent on children, how it is spent across different sectors, and if in the life course it is spent evenly across all countries with usable data. The report builds on previous work that was limited to high-income countries (OECD, 2009, 2011, 2023). Given the overwhelming evidence of the importance of early childhood development, this report focuses in particular on the patterns of expenditure choices on these earliest years. The purpose of this work is to assess how systems work for the average child with the aim of informing policymakers and stakeholders about adequacy, balance and coherence in the public policy portfolio for children.

Underinvestment in children – in good times or bad – is a slow-burning and fundamental crisis for development, and needs to be addressed with as equal urgency as conflict, COVID-19 and climate breakdown. Coordinated and corrective action is needed from development stakeholders and in domestic child policies now, if countries are to meet their obligations to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, and make good on the promises of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Available in:
English

Related Topics

More in this series: Innocenti Research Report

The Impact of Valor Criança - Social Cash Transfer Pilot Programme in Angola
Publication

The Impact of Valor Criança - Social Cash Transfer Pilot Programme in Angola

The Government of Angola and its Development Partners developed and implemented Apoio à Protecção Social - APROSOC (‘Strengthening and expanding social protection to the vulnerable population in Angola’) between 2014 and 2022 as a first step towards establishing a national social protection system. A key component of the programme, Valor Criança, the first-ever cash transfer programme in Angola, was a child-sensitive unconditional social cash transfer programme targeted at households with children zero- to five-year-olds in selected municipalities prone to food-insecurity. Beyond the cash, the programme adopted a cash ‘plus’ approach providing linkages to services such as support to birth registration, early childhood development, nutrition counselling, income generation activities, adolescent empowerment, and Community Led Total Sanitation (CLTS). Evidence on the effectiveness of social assistance programmes in Angola is limited. This study addresses this evidence gap by examining the impacts of the Valor Criança programme on various domains of child and household well-being. The study also investigates the impacts on gender equality outcomes using the conceptual framework developed as part of the Gender-Responsive Age-Sensitive Social Protection (GRASSP) research programme (2018-2023) led by UNICEF Innocenti and funded by the UK’s Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO). The study examined in detail the following research questions: 1) What are the impacts of the Valor Criança on caregivers and children?, 2) What are the broader impacts of the Valor Criança on households?, 3) How do design and implementation features of the APROSOC and Valor Criança influence programme objectives and outcomes? and 4) How do household and caregiver characteristics shape the impact of the cash transfer programme? Lastly, the report findings help formulate policy and research recommendations in support of policy actions towards creation of a nationwide social assistance programme in Angola.
Data Must Speak: Des écoles qui inspirent le changement : recherche sur les écoles modèles positives au Mali
Publication

Data Must Speak: Des écoles qui inspirent le changement : recherche sur les écoles modèles positives au Mali

Que pouvons-nous apprendre des comportements et des pratiques des écoles modèles positives au Mali ? Ce rapport présente des résultats importants issus de données qualitatives sur les comportements et les pratiques des acteurs de l'éducation dans les écoles modèles positives au Mali visant à améliorer les apprentissages des élèves. Data Must Speak - une initiative mondiale mise en œuvre depuis 2014 - vise à combler les lacunes en matière de preuves pour atténuer la crise de l'apprentissage en utilisant les données existantes. La recherche DMS sur les approches modèles positives est cocréée et mise en œuvre conjointement avec les ministères de l'Éducation et des partenaires clés. La recherche DMS s'appuie sur des méthodes mixtes et des approches innovantes (c'est-à-dire l'approche sur les modèles positive, les sciences du comportement, la recherche sur la mise en œuvre et la science de la mise à l'échelle) pour générer des connaissances et des enseignements pratiques sur " ce qui fonctionne ", " pourquoi " et " comment " mettre à l'échelle des solutions concrètes pour les décideurs politiques nationaux et la communauté internationale. La recherche DMS est actuellement mise en œuvre dans 14 pays : Brésil, Burkina Faso, Côte d'Ivoire, Éthiopie, Ghana, République démocratique populaire lao, Madagascar, Mali, Népal, Niger, République-Unie de Tanzanie, Tchad, Togo et Zambie.
Data Must Speak: Des écoles qui inspirent le changement: recherche sur les écoles modèles positives au Togo
Publication

Data Must Speak: Des écoles qui inspirent le changement: recherche sur les écoles modèles positives au Togo

Que pouvons-nous apprendre des comportements et des pratiques des écoles déviantes positives au Togo ? Ce rapport présente des informations importantes issues de données quantitatives et qualitatives sur les comportements et les pratiques d'une variété d'acteurs de l'éducation dans les écoles modèles positives au Togo. Data Must Speak - une initiative mondiale mise en œuvre depuis 2014 - vise à combler les lacunes en matière de preuves pour atténuer la crise de l'apprentissage en utilisant les données existantes. La recherche DMS sur les approches modèles positives est cocréée et mise en œuvre conjointement avec les ministères de l'Éducation et des partenaires clés. La recherche DMS s'appuie sur des méthodes mixtes et des approches innovantes (c'est-à-dire l'approche sur les modèles positives, les sciences du comportement, la recherche sur la mise en œuvre et la science de la mise à l'échelle) pour générer des connaissances et des enseignements pratiques sur " ce qui fonctionne ", " pourquoi " et " comment " mettre à l'échelle des solutions locales pour les décideurs politiques nationaux et les parties prenantes de l'éducation.   La recherche DMS est actuellement mise en œuvre dans 14 pays : Brésil, Burkina Faso, Tchad, Côte d'Ivoire, Éthiopie, Ghana, République démocratique populaire lao, Madagascar, Mali, Népal, Niger, République-Unie de Tanzanie, Togo et Zambie.
A Cash Plus Model for Safe Transitions to a Healthy and Productive Adulthood: Round 4 Impact Evaluation Report
Publication

A Cash Plus Model for Safe Transitions to a Healthy and Productive Adulthood: Round 4 Impact Evaluation Report

This mixed-methods impact evaluation examines the impacts of “Ujana Salama” (‘Safe Youth’ in Swahili) which is a cash plus programme targeting adolescents in households receiving cash transfers under the United Republic of Tanzania’s Productive Social Safety Net (PSSN) programme. Implemented by the Tanzania Social Action Fund (TASAF), with technical assistance of the Tanzania Commission for AIDS (TACAIDS) and UNICEF Tanzania, the ‘plus’ component includes in-person training, mentoring, and grants. The impact evaluation examines the differential impact of the integrated programme (cash plus intervention targeting adolescents) when compared to the PSSN alone. This report describes findings from the fourth round of data collection (2021), conducted 18–20 months after the end of programme implementation as part of the broader Gender-Responsive Age-Sensitive Social Protection (GRASSP) research programme (2018–2024), led by UNICEF Innocenti and funded by the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland’s Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO). The impact evaluation found that most of the post-programme impacts were gendered. This includes sustained increases in economic activities by female youth, sustained increases in healthcare seeking by male youth and reductions in experience of sexual violence among female youth. Implementation of “plus” aspects such as training and mentoring was gender sensitive. However, conservative gender norms were influential as they negatively influenced programme impacts on contraception.