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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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Early-life Exposure to Income Inequality and Adolescent Health and Well-being: Evidence from the Health Behaviour in School-aged Children Study
Early-life Exposure to Income Inequality and Adolescent Health and Well-being: Evidence from the Health Behaviour in School-aged Children Study

AUTHOR(S)
Frank J. Elgar; Candace Currie

Published: 2016 Innocenti Working Papers

Children and adolescents living in relative poverty – regardless of overall material conditions – tend to experience more interpersonal violence, family turmoil, and environmental hazards that increase risk of injury, engage in more health compromising behaviours (e.g., physical inactivity, poor nutrition, smoking), report lower subjective well-being, and exhibit more social skills deficits and emotional and behavioural problems.

Inequalities in Adolescent Health and Life Satisfaction: Evidence from the Health Behaviour in School-aged Children study
Inequalities in Adolescent Health and Life Satisfaction: Evidence from the Health Behaviour in School-aged Children study

AUTHOR(S)
Yekaterina Chzhen; Zlata Bruckauf; Kwok Ng; Daria Pavlova; Torbjorn Torsheim; Margarida Gaspar de Matos

Published: 2016 Innocenti Working Papers

International studies of inequalities in adolescent health tend to focus on the socio-economic gradient in average outcomes rather than their dispersion within countries. Although understanding the extent to which differences in health are related to socio-economic disadvantage is important, focusing exclusively on socio-economic status risks neglecting differences in the distribution of health outcomes within and between countries. To fill this research gap, this study analyses variation in the extent of inequality in the lower half of the distribution in five indicators of adolescent health and well-being – health symptoms, physical activity, healthy eating, unhealthy eating, and life satisfaction – across EU and/or OECD countries that took part in the latest cycle of the Health Behaviour in School-aged Children study.

Family Affluence and Inequality in Adolescent Health and Life Satisfaction: Evidence from the HBSC study 2002-2014
Family Affluence and Inequality in Adolescent Health and Life Satisfaction: Evidence from the HBSC study 2002-2014

AUTHOR(S)
Yekaterina Chzhen; Irene Moor; William Pickett; Emilia Toczydlowska; Gonneke Stevens

Published: 2016 Innocenti Working Papers

A large body of literature has established socio-economic gradients in adolescent health, but few studies have investigated the extent to which these gradients are associated with very poor health outcomes. The current analysis examined the extent to which the socio-economic background of adolescents relates to very poor self-reported health and well-being (the so-called ’bottom end’). We examined the following as indicators of adolescent health: psychosomatic health complaints; physical activity; healthy eating; unhealthy eating; and life satisfaction. Adolescents who scored below the mean of the lower half of the distribution of a given indicator fall in the “bottom group” on this indicator. The largest, most persistent and widespread socio-economic gradients are in life satisfaction, physical activity and healthy eating, while the findings are mixed for unhealthy eating and psychosomatic health. Socio-economic inequalities were largely stable, but in a sizeable minority of the countries, socio-economic inequalities in physical activity and healthy eating have widened between 2001/02 and 2013/14, while inequalities in unhealthy eating and life satisfaction have narrowed in several countries.

Poverty and Children’s Cognitive Trajectories: Evidence from the United Kingdom Millennium Cohort Study
Poverty and Children’s Cognitive Trajectories: Evidence from the United Kingdom Millennium Cohort Study

AUTHOR(S)
Zlata Bruckauf; Yekaterina Chzhen

Published: 2016 Innocenti Working Papers

Existing evidence is inconclusive on whether a socio-economic gradient in children’s cognitive ability widens, narrows or remains stable over time and there is little research on the extent of ‘cognitive mobility’ of children who had a poor start in life compared to their peers. Using data from five sweeps of the United Kingdom (UK) Millennium Cohort Study (MCS) at the ages of 9 months, 3 years, 5 years, 7 years and 11 years, this paper explores the cognitive ability trajectory of children in the bottom decile of the distribution at a given age, and the factors that drive or hinder their progress relative to their peers. The paper analyses children’s risks of moving in and out of the bottom decile of the cognitive ability distribution. The findings indicate a relatively high level of cognitive mobility between ages 3 and 11, especially in the pre-school period (between ages 3 and 5), with children from income-poor households more likely to get ‘trapped’ in the bottom of the age-specific cognitive ability distribution.

Bottom-end Inequality: Are children with an immigrant background at a disadvantage?
Bottom-end Inequality: Are children with an immigrant background at a disadvantage?

AUTHOR(S)
Zlata Bruckauf; Yekaterina Chzhen; Emilia Toczydlowska

Published: 2016 Innocenti Research Briefs

The extent to which the socio-demographic composition of child populations drives inequality in child well-being depends on which children are most likely to do much worse than their peers. In this Research Brief we present evidence on the socio-economic vulnerability of immigrant children and highlight the relative contribution of immigrant background to the risks of falling behind in household income, education, health and life satisfaction.

Education for All? Measuring inequality of educational outcomes among 15-year-olds across 39 industrialized nations
Education for All? Measuring inequality of educational outcomes among 15-year-olds across 39 industrialized nations

AUTHOR(S)
Zlata Bruckauf; Yekaterina Chzhen

Published: 2016 Innocenti Working Papers
Measuring inequality of learning outcomes in a way that provides meaningful benchmarks for national policy while retaining a focus on those students who are ‘hard to reach’ and ‘hard to teach’ is a challenging but vital task in the light of the global post-2015 education agenda. Drawing on PISA 2012 data and its earlier rounds, this paper explores alternative approaches to measuring educational inequality at the ‘bottom-end’ of educational distribution within the cross-national context. Its main aim is to understand how far behind children are allowed to fall in their academic achievement compared to what is considered a standard performance in their country. Under the framework of relative (measured as achievement gap between the median and 10th percentile) and absolute (measured by the percentage of students achieving at a given benchmark) educational disadvantage it examines cross-country rankings as well as national trajectories with reference to overall academic progress. We find that on average across OECD countries around 11% of 15- year-olds lacked skills in solving basic reading, mathematical, as well as science, tasks in 2012, but variation across countries was large.
Changes in Child Poverty in the OECD/EU during the Great Recession: An initial view
Changes in Child Poverty in the OECD/EU during the Great Recession: An initial view

AUTHOR(S)
Sudhanshu Handa; Luisa Natali; Yekaterina Chzhen; Bruno Martorano

Published: 2014 Innocenti Working Papers
Though not a measure of direct child well-being, the strong association between child development and household income makes income poverty a useful indicator of the trajectory of child well-being both in the short- and medium-term. During the period 2008-2012 child poverty rates increased in 23 of the 41 OECD countries for which we have comparable data; in total, approximately 6.6 million children became poor and 4 million left poverty for a net increase of 2.6 million. Five countries at the bottom of our Child Poverty League Table had child poverty increases that were over 10pp. However, due to their relative size and despite only modest increases in child poverty rates, Mexico and the United States are home to over half of the newly poor children during this period with 2 and 1.7 million respectively.
Subjective Impact of the Economic Crisis on Households with Children in 17 European Countries
Subjective Impact of the Economic Crisis on Households with Children in 17 European Countries

AUTHOR(S)
Yekaterina Chzhen

Published: 2014 Innocenti Working Papers
This paper investigates differences in the perceived impact of the economic crisis between adults in households with and without children in 17 European countries, using data from the Life in Transition Survey 2010. It also explores the channels through which the crisis affected adults in households with children and the ways in which they coped with the decline in income or economic activity. Overall, adults in households with children were more likely to report an impact of the crisis, with larger differences in countries with higher rates of monetary child poverty. There is evidence that adults in households with children prioritised expenditure on basic necessities, while cutting back on luxuries and holidays, but many still reported reduced consumption of staple foods as a result of economic difficulties.
Child Well-being in Rich Countries: Comparing Japan (Japanese version)
Child Well-being in Rich Countries: Comparing Japan (Japanese version)
Published: 2013 Innocenti Report Card
This report is a Japanese version of the UNICEF Innocenti Report Card 11. In the original report, Japan was not included in the league table of child well-being because data on a number of indicators were missing. Using national data sources from Japan and matching it carefully with the data used in the original Report Card 11, this report manages to include Japan in the league table and subsequent ranking in each of five dimensions in order to assess Japan’s performance in child well-being among developed countries.
The Australian Household Stimulus Package: Lessons from the recent economic crisis
The Australian Household Stimulus Package: Lessons from the recent economic crisis

AUTHOR(S)
Bruno Martorano

Published: 2013 Innocenti Working Papers
This paper focuses on a portion of the Australian fiscal stimulus and in particular on the 2009 Household Stimulus Package composed of three main cash payments: the Back to School Bonus, the Single Income Family Bonus and the Tax Bonus for Working Australians. The aim of this paper is to investigate the effectiveness of these bonus payments in reducing poverty and stimulating consumption. In addition, our analysis gives special attention to these outcomes among children and poor people, due to their increased vulnerability during times of crisis.
Child Well-being in Rich Countries: A comparative overview
Child Well-being in Rich Countries: A comparative overview

AUTHOR(S)
Peter Adamson

Published: 2013 Innocenti Report Card
Part 1 of the Report Card presents a league table of child well-being in 29 of the world's advanced economies. Part 2 looks at what children say about their own well-being (including a league table of children’s life satisfaction). Part 3 examines changes in child well-being in advanced economies over the first decade of the 2000s, looking at each country’s progress in educational achievement, teenage birth rates, childhood obesity levels, the prevalence of bullying, and the use of tobacco, alcohol and drugs.
Child Well-being in Advanced Economies in the Late 2000s
Child Well-being in Advanced Economies in the Late 2000s

AUTHOR(S)
Bruno Martorano; Luisa Natali; Chris De Neubourg; Jonathan Bradshaw

Published: 2013 Innocenti Working Papers
This paper compares the well-being of children across the most economically advanced countries of the world. It discusses the methodological issues involved in comparing children’s well-being across countries and explains how a Child Well-being Index is constructed to rank countries according to their performance in advancing child well-being. The Index uses 30 indicators combined into 13 components, again summarised in 5 dimensions for 35 rich countries. Data from various sources are combined to capture aspects of child well-being: material well-being, health, education, behaviour and risks, housing and environment. The scores for the countries on all variables and combinations of variables are discussed in detail. The Child Well-being Index reveals that serious differences exist across countries suggesting that in many, improvement could be made in the quality of children’s lives.
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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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