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UNICEF Innocenti's complete catalogue of research and reports
Places and Spaces: Environments and children’s well-being
SPOTLIGHT

Places and Spaces: Environments and children’s well-being

Report Card 17 explores how 43 OECD/EU countries are faring in providing healthy environments for children. Do children have clean water to drink? Do they have good-quality air to breathe? Are their homes free of lead and mould? How many children live in overcrowded homes? How many have access to green play spaces, safe from road traffic? Data show that a nation’s wealth does not guarantee a healthy environment. Far too many children are deprived of a healthy home, irreversibly damaging their current and future well-being. Beyond children’s immediate environments, over-consumption in some of the world’s richest countries is destroying children’s environments globally. This threatens both children worldwide and future generations. To provide all children with safe and healthy environments, governments, policymakers, businesses and all stakeholders are called to act on a set of policy recommendations.
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Monitoring the Social Costs of Climate Change for Low- and Middle-income Countries
Monitoring the Social Costs of Climate Change for Low- and Middle-income Countries
Published: 2022 Innocenti Research Report

This policy brief is the third in a series that assesses key issues affecting social spending as part of UNICEF’s work on Public Finance for Children.

It aims to add to the understanding on of what climate change means for social sector budgets, and the extent to which social sectors are being prioritized in the climate response.

 Social sectors face rising climate-related costs but positive opportunities to raise the required additional financing required remain. These include: leveraging green technologies; reforming energy subsidies and harnessing green financing initiatives.   

Worlds of Influence: Understanding What Shapes Child Well-being in Rich Countries
Worlds of Influence: Understanding What Shapes Child Well-being in Rich Countries

AUTHOR(S)
Anna Gromada; Gwyther Rees; Yekaterina Chzhen

Published: 2020 Innocenti Report Card

A new look at children from the world’s richest countries offers a mixed picture of their health, skills and happiness. For far too many, issues such as poverty, exclusion and pollution threaten their mental well-being, physical health and opportunities to develop skills. Even countries with good social, economic and environmental conditions are a long way from meeting the targets set in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Focused and accelerated action is needed if these goals are to be met.

The evidence from 41 Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and European Union (EU) countries tells its own story: from children’s chances of survival, growth and protection, to whether they are learning and feel listened to, to whether their parents have the support and resources to give their children the best chance for a healthy, happy childhood. This report reveals children’s experiences against the backdrop of their country’s policies and social, educational, economic and environmental contexts.

A Cash Plus Model for Safe Transitions to a Healthy and Productive Adulthood: Midline Report
A Cash Plus Model for Safe Transitions to a Healthy and Productive Adulthood: Midline Report
Published: 2020 Innocenti Research Report
This report provides midline findings from the impact evaluation of a cash plus model targeting youth in households receiving the United Republic of Tanzania’s Productive Social Safety Net (PSSN). Implemented by the Tanzania Social Action Fund (TASAF), with technical assistance of the Tanzania Commission for AIDS (TACAIDS) and UNICEF Tanzania, the programme aims to improve livelihood opportunities and facilitate a safe transition to adulthood. The 'plus' component included training on livelihoods and sexual and reproductive health (SRH)-HIV, mentoring and productive grants, as well as linkages to youth-friendly health services. The impact evaluation is a longitudinal, mixed methods study. The midline analysis was conducted immediately after training (before mentoring, disbursement of productive grants and health facility strengthening). The baseline report is available here.
Cite this publication | No. of pages: 160 | Thematic area: Social Policies | Tags: social protection, social safety nets, youth
A Rapid Review of Economic Policy and Social Protection Responses to Health and Economic Crises and Their Effects on Children: Lessons for the COVID-19 pandemic response
A Rapid Review of Economic Policy and Social Protection Responses to Health and Economic Crises and Their Effects on Children: Lessons for the COVID-19 pandemic response
Published: 2020 Innocenti Working Papers

This rapid review seeks to inform the initial and long-term public policy responses to the COVID-19 pandemic, by assessing evidence on past economic policy and social protection responses to health and economic crises and their effects on children and families. The review focuses on virus outbreaks/emergencies, economic crises and natural disasters, which, like the COVID-19 pandemic, were 'rapid' in onset, had wide-ranging geographical reach, and resulted in disruption of social services and economic sectors, without affecting governance systems. Evidence is also drawn from the HIV/AIDS pandemic, due to its impacts on adult mortality rates and surviving children.

The available evidence on the effects of economic policy and social protection responses is uneven across outcomes, regions, and type of policy response as a large body of literature focused on social assistance programmes. Future research on the COVID-19 pandemic can prioritize the voices of children and the marginalized, assess the effects of expansionary and austerity measures,  examine the role of design and implementation, social care services, pre-existing macro-level health, demographic and health conditions and the diverse regional health and economic impacts of the pandemic. The paper also provides key lessons for public policy responses to the COVID-19 pandemic.

 

Cash Transfers and Child Nutrition in Zambia
Cash Transfers and Child Nutrition in Zambia

AUTHOR(S)
Averi Chakrabarti; Sudhanshu Handa; Luisa Natali; David Seidenfeld; Gelson Tembo

Published: 2019 Innocenti Working Papers
We examine the effect of the Zambia Child Grant Programme – an unconditional cash transfer (CT) targeted to rural families with children under age five – on height-for-age four years after programme initiation. The CT scheme had large positive effects on several nutritional inputs including food expenditure and meal frequency. However, there was no effect on height-for-age. Production function estimates indicate that food carries little weight in the production of child height. Health knowledge of mothers and health infrastructure in the study sites are also very poor. These factors plus the harsh disease environment are too onerous to be overcome by the increases in food intake generated by the CT. In such settings, a stand-alone CT, even when it has large positive effects on food security, is unlikely to have an impact on long-term chronic malnutrition unless accompanied by complementary interventions.
Social Protection, Cash Transfers and Long-Term Poverty Reduction: Transfer Project Workshop Brief 2019
Social Protection, Cash Transfers and Long-Term Poverty Reduction: Transfer Project Workshop Brief 2019

AUTHOR(S)
Michelle Mills

Published: 2019 Innocenti Research Briefs
Celebrating ten years of building evidence for action on cash transfers in Africa, UNICEF, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC) organized the seventh regional Transfer Project workshop on “Social Protection, Cash Transfers and Long-Term Poverty Reduction”* in Arusha, Tanzania from 2 to 4 April 2019. Over 130 social  protection experts and stakeholders from 20 African countries attended, including government officials, UNICEF and FAO staff, academics, NGOs and other development partners.
Cite this publication | No. of pages: 5 | Thematic area: Social Policies | Tags: cash transfers, SDGs, social protection
I paesi più ricchi del mondo sostengono le famiglie? Politiche dell’OCSE e dell’UE
I paesi più ricchi del mondo sostengono le famiglie? Politiche dell’OCSE e dell’UE

AUTHOR(S)
Yekaterina Chzhen; Gwyther Rees; Anna Gromada

Published: 2019 Innocenti Research Report
I bambini hanno migliori prospettive di vita e i genitori sono in grado di bilanciare meglio il lavoro e gli altri impegni in paesi che hanno delle politiche a sostegno delle famiglie. Queste includono il congedo parentale retribuito, il sostegno per l’allattamento al seno, l’assistenza all’infanzia e l’educazione prescolare a prezzi accessibili e di alta qualità. Il presente rapporto esamina le politiche favorevoli alla famiglia di 41 paesi ad alto e medio reddito attraverso quattro indicatori a livello nazionale: la durata delle ferie retribuite a disposizione delle madri, la durata delle ferie retribuite riservata specificamente ai padri, la quota di bambini sotto i tre anni nei nidi e centri per l’infanzia e la quota di bambini tra i tre anni e l’età dell’obbligo scolastico nei centri e scuole per l’infanzia. Svezia, Norvegia e Islanda sono i tre paesi che più sostengono le famiglie per i quali disponiamo di dati completi. Cipro, Grecia e Svizzera occupano gli ultimi tre posti. Dieci dei 41 paesi non dispongono di dati sufficienti sull’infanzia per essere inseriti nella nostra classifica. Non abbiamo a disposizione abbastanza informazioni aggiornate per mettere a confronto i diversi paesi sulla qualità dei centri per l’infanzia o sulle tariffe e le politiche per l’allattamento al seno. Per i paesi più ricchi esiste un margine per migliorare le loro politiche familiari e per raccogliere dati più accurati.
Are the world’s richest countries family friendly? Policy in the OECD and EU
Are the world’s richest countries family friendly? Policy in the OECD and EU

AUTHOR(S)
Yekaterina Chzhen; Gwyther Rees; Anna Gromada

Published: 2019 Innocenti Research Report
Children get a better start in life and parents are better able to balance work and home commitments in countries that have family-friendly policies. These include paid parental leave, support for breastfeeding and affordable, high-quality childcare and preschool education. This report looks at family-friendly policies in 41 high- and middle-income countries using four country-level indicators: the duration of paid leave available to mothers; the duration of paid leave reserved specifically for fathers; the share of children below the age of three in childcare centres; and the share of children  between the age of three and compulsory school age in childcare or preschool centres. Sweden, Norway and Iceland are the three most family-friendly countries for which we have complete data. Cyprus, Greece and Switzerland occupy the bottom three places. Ten of the 41 countries do not have sufficient data on childcare enrolment to be ranked in our league table. There is not enough up-to-date information available for us to compare across countries the quality of childcare centres or breastfeeding rates and policies. There is scope for the world’s richest countries to improve their family policies and collect better data.
Exploring the potential of cash transfers to delay early marriage and pregnancy among youth in Malawi and Zambia
Exploring the potential of cash transfers to delay early marriage and pregnancy among youth in Malawi and Zambia

AUTHOR(S)
Luisa Natali; Fidelia Dake

Published: 2019 Innocenti Research Briefs
There is increasing interest in the potential of cash transfers to facilitate safe transitions to adulthood among vulnerable youth in low-income settings. However, little evidence exists that analyses these linkages from at-scale government-run programmes. This brief summarizes the impacts of two government-run large-scale unconditional cash transfers on outcomes of early marriage and pregnancy among youth in Malawi and Zambia after approximately three years. Results indicate limited impacts on safe transitions for both males and females. However, the programmes were successful in reducing poverty and improving schooling outcomes—two main pathways for safe transitions as reported in the literature. Research implications include the need to study transitions over longer time periods, including tracking of youth as they transition out of study households. If reducing early marriage and pregnancy is among policy makers’ primary priorities, then dedicated programming via cash plus or services specifically targeted at addressing the needs of adolescents and youth should be considered.
Cite this publication | No. of pages: 3 | Thematic area: Social Policies | Tags: cash transfers, early marriage, pregnancy, youth
Can social assistance (with a child lens) help in reducing urban poverty in Ghana? Evidence, challenges and the way forward
Can social assistance (with a child lens) help in reducing urban poverty in Ghana? Evidence, challenges and the way forward

AUTHOR(S)
Stephen Devereux; Abdul-Gafaru Abdulai; Jose Cuesta; Jaideep Gupte; Luigi Peter Ragno; Keetie Roelen; Rachel Sabates-Wheeler; Tayllor Spadafora

Published: 2018 Innocenti Working Papers
Experience with urban social assistance programmes is still limited. Many of the existing urban programmes are extensions or duplicates of rural programmes, but urban-sensitive social protection needs to reflect the distinct vulnerabilities of the urban poor. Furthermore, applying a child lens requires identifying and addressing the specific risks and multiple deprivations that are experienced by half of urban children in developing countries. As a result, designing social assistance for urban contexts faces challenges such as accurately targeting the poor (given the spatial geography of urban poverty) and setting appropriate payment levels (given the high and variable costs of urban living). Geographic targeting (e.g. informal settlements), proxy means testing (if urban-sensitive) and categorical targeting (e.g. street children) are popular mechanisms in urban areas, but community-based targeting is often inappropriate (because of urban social fragmentation) while self-targeting can be unethical (e.g. where wages below market rates are paid in public works projects) and might contradict rights-based approaches. These are relevant challenges to address when designing urban social protection programmes. We apply these reflections to Ghana. The country is a relevant case study because it is growing and urbanizing rapidly.  But as the result of urbanization, urban poverty and deprivations are rising even though national poverty rates have halved. Anti-poverty policies and social protection interventions remain biased towards the rural poor. The ‘urbanization of poverty’ in Ghana has created problems such as overcrowded housing, limited access to sanitation, and outbreaks of communicable diseases. This paper provides guidance on the critical questions to ask to design in Ghana a successful urban social protection programme with a child lens.
Political Connections No Longer Determine Targeting of Social Protection: A successful case study from Ethiopia
Political Connections No Longer Determine Targeting of Social Protection: A successful case study from Ethiopia

AUTHOR(S)
Elsa Valli

Published: 2018 Innocenti Research Briefs
Ethiopia is one of the world’s largest recipients of donor funds for development and emergency interventions. As such, its targeting of social protection has received substantial attention. In particular, concerns have been raised that political connections could play a role in determining the selection of beneficiaries. With the introduction in 2005 of the Productive Safety Net Programme (PSNP), Ethiopia implemented various policies aimed at increasing transparency in the targeting of social protection. This case study compares targeting before and during the implementation of PSNP, and shows improvements in targeting for both public works and emergency aid in relation to the dimensions of poverty, food security and political connections. Most notably, political connections are no longer found to determine the receipt of benefits during the implementation of PSNP.
Cite this publication | No. of pages: 4 | Thematic area: Social Policies | Tags: ethiopia, social protection
Targeting of Social Protection in 11 Ethiopian villages
Targeting of Social Protection in 11 Ethiopian villages

AUTHOR(S)
Elsa Valli

Published: 2018 Innocenti Working Papers
Social protection in Ethiopia is primarily allocated through community-based targeting. The few studies that have analysed the efficacy of aid targeting in Ethiopia have revealed targeting biases in regard to demography, geography and political affiliations. With the introduction in Ethiopia in 2005 of the Productive Safety Net Programme (PSNP), a major social protection programme, various administrative guidelines were introduced (and subsequently periodically revised) with the aim of improving targeting. This paper uses data from the last two rounds of the Ethiopian Rural Household Survey to investigate whether PSNP implementation resulted in changes in both targeting determinants and amount received for public works (a component of PSNP) and emergency aid between 2004 and 2009 in 11 rural villages. In general, public works appear to have been allocated on the basis of observable poverty-related characteristics, and emergency aid according to household demographics. In addition, the results suggest that, for both public works and emergency aid beneficiaries, political connections were significant in determining the receipt of aid in 2004 but that this was no longer the case by 2009, indicating an improvement in the channeling of social protection to its intended target groups. However, a household’s experience of recent shocks was found to bear no relationship to receipt of support, which suggests that a more flexible and shock-responsive implementation could improve targeting for transitory needs.
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JOURNAL ARTICLES BLOGS
Return on Knowledge: How international development agencies are collaborating to deliver impact through knowledge, learning, research and evidence
Publication

Return on Knowledge: How international development agencies are collaborating to deliver impact through knowledge, learning, research and evidence

Effective collaboration around knowledge management and organizational learning is a key contributor to improving the impact of international development work for the world’s most vulnerable people. But how can it be proven? With only 10 years from the target date for the Sustainable Development Goals, nine of the world’s most influential agencies set out to show to the connection between the use of evidence, knowledge and learning and a better quality of human life. This book – a synthesis of stories, examples and insights that demonstrate where and how these practices have made a positive impact on development programming – is the result of the Multi-Donor Learning Partnership (MDLP), a collective effort to record the ways each of these organizations have leveraged intentional, systematic and resourced approaches to knowledge management and organizational learning in their work.
Gender Solutions: Capturing the impact of UNICEF’s gender equality evidence investments (2014–2021)
Publication

Gender Solutions: Capturing the impact of UNICEF’s gender equality evidence investments (2014–2021)

UNICEF has undertaken hundreds of gender evidence generation activities, supporting programmatic action, advocacy work and policymaking. The Gender Solutions project aims to draw together the knowledge, innovations and impacts of gender evidence work conducted by UNICEF offices since the first UNICEF Gender Action Plan was launched in 2014. A desk review identified over 700 gender-related UNICEF research, evaluation and data evidence generation activities since 2014. Twenty-five outputs were shortlisted because of their high quality and (potential for) impact and three were selected as Gender Evidence Award winners by an external review panel. By capturing the impact of this broad body of work, Gender Solutions aims to showcase UNICEF’s evidence investments, reward excellence and inform the rollout of the UNICEF Gender Policy 2021–2030 and Action Plan 2022–2025.
Annual Report 2021
Publication

Annual Report 2021

The UNICEF Innocenti Annual Report 2021 highlights the key results achieved in research and evidence to inform policymaking and programming.
Responsible Innovation in Technology for Children: Digital technology, play and child well-being
Publication

Responsible Innovation in Technology for Children: Digital technology, play and child well-being

Digital experiences can have significant negative impact on children, exposing them to risks or failing to nurture them adequately. Nevertheless, digital experiences also potentially yield enormous benefits for children, enabling them to learn, to create, to develop friendships, and to build worlds. While global efforts to deepen our understanding of the prevalence and impact of digital risks of harm are burgeoning – a development that is both welcome and necessary – less attention has been paid to understanding and optimizing the benefits that digital technology can provide in supporting children’s rights and their well-being. Benefits here refer not only to the absence of harm, but also to creating additional positive value. How should we recognize the opportunities and benefits of digital technology for children’s well-being? What is the relationship between the design of digital experiences – in particular, play-centred design – and the well-being of children? What guidance and measures can we use to strengthen the design of digital environments to promote positive outcomes for children? And how can we make sure that children’s insights and needs form the foundation of our work in this space? These questions matter for all those who design and promote digital experiences, to keep children safe and happy, and enable positive development and learning. These questions are particularly relevant as the world shifts its attention to emerging digital technologies and experiences, from artificial intelligence (AI) to the metaverse, and seeks to understand their impact on people and society. To begin to tackle these questions, UNICEF and the LEGO Group initiated the Responsible Innovation in Technology for Children (RITEC) project in partnership with the Young and Resilient Research Centre at Western Sydney University; the CREATE Lab at New York University; the Graduate Center, City University of New York; the University of Sheffield; the Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for the Digital Child; and the Joan Ganz Cooney Center. The research is funded by the LEGO Foundation. The partnership is an international, multi-stakeholder and cross-sectoral collaboration between organizations that believe the design and development of digital technology should support the rights and well-being of children as a primary objective – and that children should have a prominent voice in making this a reality. This project’s primary objective is to develop, with children from around the world, a framework that maps how the design of children’s digital experiences affects their well-being, and to provide guidance as to how informed design choices can promote positive well-being outcomes.

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