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UNICEF Innocenti's complete catalogue of research and reports
Best of UNICEF Research 2021
SPOTLIGHT

Best of UNICEF Research 2021

Best of UNICEF Research showcases the most rigorous, innovative and impactful research produced by UNICEF offices worldwide. While evidence highlights emerging issues, it also informs decisions and provides policy and programme recommendations for governments and partners to improve children’s lives. This ninth edition brings together 11 powerful studies from around the world and across the five Strategic Goal Areas. How do South Asian youth feel about entering the world of work? What is the effect of climate-related hazards on access to healthcare? How has COVID-19 affected children and their families in the Republic of Moldova? With social and economic inequalities increasing and progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals lagging, rigorous research – answers to these questions – has never mattered more.
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COVID-19: Missing More Than a Classroom. The impact of school closures on children’s nutrition
Blog Blog

COVID-19: Missing More Than a Classroom. The impact of school closures on children’s nutrition

In 2019, 135 million people in 55 countries were in food crises or worse, and 2 billion people did not have regular access to safe, nutritious and sufficient food. COVID-19 has exacerbated these hardships and may result in an additional 121 million people facing acute food insecurity by the end of 2020. Further, since the beginning of the pandemic, an estimated 1.6 billion learners in 199 countries worldwide were affected by school closures, with nearly 370 million children not receiving a school meal in 150 countries. The paper presents the evidence on the potential negative short-term and long-term effects of school meal scheme disruption during Covid-19 globally. It shows how vulnerable the children participating in these schemes are, how coping and mitigation measures are often only short-term solutions, and how prioritizing school re-opening is critical. For instance, it highlights how girls are at greater risk of not being in school or of being taken out of school early, which may lead to poor nutrition and health for themselves and their children. However, well-designed school feeding programmes have been shown to enable catch-up from early growth failure and other negative shocks. As such, once schools re-open, school meal schemes can help address the deprivation that children have experienced during the closures and provide an incentive for parents to send and keep their children, especially girls, in school.
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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
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
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
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
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?
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
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
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
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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JOURNAL ARTICLES BLOGS
Learning at a Distance: Children’s remote learning experiences in Italy during the COVID-19 pandemic
Publication Publication

Learning at a Distance: Children’s remote learning experiences in Italy during the COVID-19 pandemic

Italy was the first country in Europe to implement a nationwide lockdown. Children and their families lived in nearly complete isolation for almost two months. Students missed 65 days of school compared to an average of 27 missed days among high-income countries worldwide. This prolonged break is of concern, as even short breaks in schooling can cause significant loss of learning for children and lead to educational inequalities over time. At least 3 million Italian students may not have been reached by remote learning due to a lack of internet connectivity or devices at home. This report explores children’s and parents’ experiences of remote learning during the lockdown in Italy, drawing on data collected from 11 European countries (and coordinated by the European Commission’s Joint Research Center). It explores how children's access and use of digital technologies changed during the pandemic; highlights how existing inequalities might undermine remote learning opportunities, even among those with internet access; and provides insights on how to support children’s remote learning in the future. *** L'Italia e’ stata il primo paese in Europa ad aver applicato la misura del lockdown su tutto il territorio. I bambini e le loro famiglie hanno vissuto in quasi completo isolamento per circa due mesi. Gli studenti hanno perduto 65 giorni di scuola rispetto ad una media di 27 negli altri paesi ad alto reddito del mondo. Questa interruzione prolungata rappresenta motivo di preoccupazione, in quanto persino interruzioni piu’ brevi nella didattica possono causare significative perdite nel livello di istruzione dei ragazzi e portare col tempo a diseguaglianze educative. Almeno 3 milioni di studenti in Italia non sono stati coinvolti nella didattica a distanza a causa d una mancanza di connessione ad internet o di dispositivi adeguati a casa. Questo rapporto analizza l’esperienza della didattica a distanza di ragazzi e genitori in Italia durante il lockdown, sulla base dei dati raccolti in 11 paesi europei (e coordinati dal Centro comune di ricerca della Commissione Europea). Studia il cambiamento nell’accesso e nell’uso delle tecnologie digitali dei bambini e ragazzi durante la pandemia; mette in evidenza come le diseguaglianze esistenti possano diminuire le opportunità offerte dalla didattica a distanza, anche tra coloro che hanno accesso ad internet; e fornisce approfondimenti su come sostenere la didattica a distanza di bambini e ragazzi in futuro.
Vite a Colori: Esperienze, percezioni e opinioni di bambinə e ragazzə sulla pandemia di Covid-19 in Italia
Publication Publication

Vite a Colori: Esperienze, percezioni e opinioni di bambinə e ragazzə sulla pandemia di Covid-19 in Italia

Il rapporto Vite a Colori racconta le esperienze, percezioni ed opinioni di un gruppo di adolescenti sul primo anno di pandemia di Covid-19 in Italia cercando di comprendere le loro esperienze e punti di vista, attraverso le loro parole. La raccolta dati si è svolta tra febbraio e giugno 2021 con 114 partecipanti tra i 10 e i 19 anni, frequentanti le scuole superiori del primo e del secondo ciclo di 16 regioni italiane. Bambinɘ e ragazzɘ che si identificano come LGBTQI+, minori stranieri non accompagnati (MSNA) e adolescenti con background socioeconomico svantaggiato sono stati deliberatamente inclusi nel campione interessato dalla ricerca

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