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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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Measuring Inequality in Children’s Education in Rich Countries
Measuring Inequality in Children’s Education in Rich Countries

AUTHOR(S)
Anna Gromada; Gwyther Rees; Yekaterina Chzhen; Jose Cuesta; Zlata Bruckhauf

Published: 2018 Innocenti Working Papers
There is growing recognition among international organizations, scholars and policymakers that education systems must produce equitable outcomes, but there is far less consensus on what this means in practice. This paper analyses differences in inequality of outcome and inequality of opportunity in educational achievement among primary and secondary schoolchildren across 38 countries of the European Union (EU) and/or the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). The analysis focuses on reading achievement, drawing on data from the Progress in International Reading Literacy Study (PIRLS) and the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA). We use several measures to operationalize the two concepts of inequality in education. Our results show that inequality of outcome does not necessarily go hand in hand with inequality of opportunity. These two concepts lead to measures that produce very different country rankings. We argue that information on both inequality of outcome and inequality of opportunity is necessary for a better understanding of equity in children’s education.
Growing Inequality and Unequal Opportunities in Rich Countries
Growing Inequality and Unequal Opportunities in Rich Countries

AUTHOR(S)
Emilia Toczydlowska; Zlata Bruckauf

Published: 2017 Innocenti Research Briefs
Inequality can have wide-ranging effects on communities, families and children. Income inequality (measured through the Gini index) was found to have an association with higher levels of peer violence in 35 countries (Elgar et al. 2009) and to influence the use of alcohol and drunkenness among 11- and 13-year olds (Elgar et al. 2005). On a macro level, countries with greater income inequality among children have lower levels of child well-being and higher levels of child poverty (Toczydlowska et al. 2016). More worrying still is that growing inequality reinforces the impact of socio-economic status (SES) on children’s outcomes, limiting social mobility. Concern about growing inequality features prominently on the current international development agenda. Goal 10 of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) calls specifically to reduce inequality within and among countries, while the concept of ‘leaving no one behind’ reflects the spirit of greater fairness in society. But with a myriad of measures and definitions of inequality used in literature, the focus on children is often diluted. This brief contributes to this debate by presenting child-relevant distributional measures that reflect inequality of outcomes as well as opportunity for children in society, over time.
Building the Future: Children and the Sustainable Development Goals in Rich Countries
Building the Future: Children and the Sustainable Development Goals in Rich Countries
Published: 2017 Innocenti Report Card

This Report Card offers an assessment of child well-being in the context of sustainable development across 41 countries of the European Union (EU) and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). Specifically, this report seeks to bring the SDG targets for children in high-income countries into meaningful operation (while staying true to the ambitions of the global agenda) and to establish a point of departure for reviewing the SDG framework in these contexts. It focuses on those goals and targets with most direct relevance to the well-being of children in high-income settings. Where appropriate, it adapts the agreed SDG indicator, the better to reflect the problems facing children in such countries. The results therefore highlight the new challenges set by the SDGs.

Growing Inequality and Unequal Opportunities in Rich Countries
Growing Inequality and Unequal Opportunities in Rich Countries

AUTHOR(S)
Emilia Toczydlowska; Zlata Bruckauf

Published: 2017 Innocenti Research Briefs
Forthcoming
Fairness for Children. A league table of inequality in child well-being in rich countries
Fairness for Children. A league table of inequality in child well-being in rich countries
Published: 2016 Innocenti Report Card

This Report Card presents an overview of inequalities in child well-being in 41 countries of the European Union (EU) and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). It focuses on ‘bottom-end inequality’ – the gap between children at the bottom and those in the middle – and addresses the question ‘how far behind are children being allowed to fall?’ in income, education, health and life satisfaction.
Across the OECD, he risks of poverty have been shifting from the elderly towards youth since the 1980s. These developments accentuate the need to monitor the well-being of the most disadvantaged children, but income inequality also has far-reaching consequences for society, harming educational attainment, key health outcomes and even economic growth. A concern with fairness and social justice requires us to consider whether some members of society are being left so far behind that it unfairly affects their lives both now and in the future.This Report Card asks the same underlying question as Report Card 9, which focused on inequality in child well-being, but uses the most recent data available and includes more countries.

Equità per i bambini. Una classifica della disuguaglianza nel benessere dei bambini nei paesi ricchi
Equità per i bambini. Una classifica della disuguaglianza nel benessere dei bambini nei paesi ricchi
Published: 2016 Innocenti Report Card
Questa Report Card presenta una panoramica delle disuguaglianze nel benessere dei bambini in 41 paesi dell'Unione Europea (UE) e dell'Organizzazione per la cooperazione e lo sviluppo economico (OCSE). Essa verte principalmente sulla “disuguaglianza nella fascia più bassa”, ossia il divario fra i bambini nella fascia più bassa della distribuzione e quelli nella fascia media, e affronta la questione “fino a che punto si permette che i bambini restino indietro?” in termini di reddito, istruzione, salute e soddisfazione nei confronti della vita.
In tutta l'area OCSE, a partire dagli anni ottanta del secolo scorso il rischio povertà si è progressivamente trasferito dagli anziani ai giovani. Tali sviluppi rendono ancora più urgente la necessità di monitorare il  benessere dei bambini più svantaggiati, ma la disuguaglianza reddituale comporta anche conseguenze a lungo termine per la società, andando a colpire il livello di istruzione, condizioni di salute chiave e persino la crescita economica. L’interesse per l'equità e la giustizia sociale ci impone di valutare se alcuni membri della società vengano lasciati così indietro da comprometterne la qualità della vita, sia attuale che futura. Questa Report Card si pone lo stesso interrogativo alla base della Report Card 9, dedicata alla disuguaglianza nel benessere dei bambini, ma utilizza i dati più recenti disponibili e comprende un maggior numero di paesi.
Equidad para los niños. Una tabla clasificatoria de la desigualdad respecto al bienestar infantil en los países ricos
Equidad para los niños. Una tabla clasificatoria de la desigualdad respecto al bienestar infantil en los países ricos
Published: 2016 Innocenti Report Card
En este Report Card se describen las desigualdades en el bienestar infantil en 41 países de la Unión Europea (UE) y la Organización de Cooperación y Desarrollo Económicos (OCDE). Se examina la desigualdad en el extremo inferior de la distribución, es decir, la brecha entre los niños que se sitúan en la parte baja y los que ocupan la posición media. Al mismo tiempo, se estudia hasta qué punto se deja que los niños se queden atrás en  términos de ingresos, educación, salud y satisfacción en la vida. En todos los países de la OCDE, el riesgo de caer en la pobreza era mayor para los ancianos, pero desde la década de 1980, el riesgo amenaza principalmente a los jóvenes. Esa evolución acentúa la necesidad de supervisar el bienestar de los niños más desfavorecidos —aunque la desigualdad de ingresos también tiene consecuencias de amplio alcance para la sociedad—, puesto que socava los logros académicos, los resultados sanitarios clave e incluso el crecimiento económico. El interés por instaurar la equidad y la justicia social obliga a determinar si la desigualdad que sufren algunos miembros de la sociedad es tal que afecta injustamente a su vida presente y futura. En este Report Card se plantea la misma pregunta básica que en el Report Card n.° 9, el cual se centraba en la desigualdad en el bienestar infantil, pero se emplean los datos disponibles más recientes y se abarca un mayor número de países.
Équité entre les enfants. Tableau de classement des inégalités de bien-être entre les enfants des pays riches
Équité entre les enfants. Tableau de classement des inégalités de bien-être entre les enfants des pays riches
Published: 2016 Innocenti Report Card
Ce Bilan présente une vue d’ensemble des inégalités de bien-être entre les enfants de 41 pays de l’Union européenne (UE) et de l’Organisation de coopération et de développement économiques (OCDE). Il se concentre sur les « inégalités dans la partie inférieure de la distribution », c’est-àdire l’écart entre les enfants du bas et ceux du milieu de la distribution, et cherche à savoir jusqu’où la société laisse se creuser le fossé entre les enfants en matière de revenus, d’éducation, de santé et de satisfaction dans la vie. Dans toute l’OCDE, la tendance a évolué depuis les années 1980 : ce sont désormais les jeunes, et non plus les personnes âgées, qui  risquent le plus de tomber dans la pauvreté. Ces évolutions accentuent la nécessité de surveiller le bien-être des enfants les plus défavorisés ; en outre, les inégalités en matière de revenus ont des répercussions considérables sur la société, puisqu’elles ont un impact négatif sur la réussite scolaire, les principaux indicateurs dans le domaine de la santé, voire la croissance économique. Se soucier de l’équité et de la justice sociale implique de déterminer si l’écart entre les membres de la société est tel que certains s’en trouvent pénalisés, non seulement dans leur vie actuelle, mais aussi pour leur avenir3. Le présent Bilan pose les mêmes questions sous-jacentes que le Bilan 9 sur les inégalités de bienêtre entre les enfants, mais repose sur les données disponibles les plus récentes et inclut davantage de pays.
Why Income Inequalities Matter for Young People’s Health: A look at the evidence
Why Income Inequalities Matter for Young People’s Health: A look at the evidence

AUTHOR(S)
Aixa Y. Alemán-Díaz; Emilia Toczydlowska; Joanna Mazur; Diana Frasquilho; Marina Melkumova; Goran Holmqvist

Published: 2016 Innocenti Working Papers

Although child and adolescent inequalities are still less understood than those of adults, we have made progress in understanding the pathways that lead to negative outcomes and the limitations of some ‘adult-specific’ indicators as proxies of young people’s health and well-being. Nonetheless, the academic literature has been able to establish a clear negative relationship between a person’s material circumstances and their health outcomes and behaviours such as being overweight, lack of physical activity, higher levels of smoking and mental health problems, all of which persist throughout a person’s life. The personal and societal toll of these effects is clear, yet policies are still lagging behind, tackling proximal causes rather than ‘the causes of the causes’ of these health inequalities. This paper aims to summarise relevant knowledge on the socio-economic causes of health inequalities in children. It will not only provide a foundation to the Innocenti Report Card 13 in terms of outlining our knowledge regarding the drivers of health inequality but it will also help us shed light on its consequences.

Cite this publication | No. of pages: 24 | Thematic area: Adolescents, Health | Tags: adolescent health, income, inequality
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.

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.
The Consequences of the Recent Economic Crisis and Government Reactions for Children
The Consequences of the Recent Economic Crisis and Government Reactions for Children

AUTHOR(S)
Bruno Martorano

Published: 2014 Innocenti Working Papers
The aim of this paper is to analyse the impact of the different policy reactions of European governments to the recent economic crisis on income distribution and poverty, giving special attention to children. Almost all the governments introduced fiscal stimulus packages in the first phase of the crisis. Nonetheless, the persistence of bad economic conditions led to a drop in the countries’ revenues with a deterioration of their fiscal conditions. In addition, the pressure coming from the financial markets and the resurgence of an orthodox policy approach pushed many governments to introduce austerity measures since 2010. In particular, there was a growing consensus about the necessity of fiscal consolidation despite awareness of the possible negative impact on economic performance and social outcomes. Some governments preferred to increase taxes while others preferred to reduce public expenditure, also cutting benefits and services for children and their families.
Cite this publication | No. of pages: 24 | Thematic area: Child Poverty, Social Policies | Tags: crisis, europe, income, inequality, poverty
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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.
Increasing Women’s Representation in School Leadership: A promising path towards improving learning
Publication

Increasing Women’s Representation in School Leadership: A promising path towards improving learning

Emerging evidence shows a positive association between women school leaders and student performance. Some studies suggest women school leaders are more likely than their male counterparts to adopt effective management practices that may contribute to improved outcomes. However, women remain largely underrepresented in school leadership positions, particularly in low- and middle-income countries. This brief presents emerging insights on the association between women school leaders and education outcomes and draws attention to women’s underrepresentation in school leadership roles. It highlights the need for further research on gender and school leadership to identify policies and practices that can be implemented to increase women’s representation and scale high-quality management practices adopted by women leaders to more schools to improve education outcomes for all children.
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.
Reopening with Resilience: Lessons from Remote Learning during COVID-19: Europe and Central Asia
Publication

Reopening with Resilience: Lessons from Remote Learning during COVID-19: Europe and Central Asia

When schools started closing their doors due to COVID-19, countries in Europe and Central Asia quickly provided alternative learning solutions for children to continue learning. More than 90 per cent of countries offered digital solutions to ensure that education activities could continue. However, lack of access to digital devices and a reliable internet connection excluded a significant amount of already marginalized children and threatened to widen the existing learning disparities. This report builds on existing evidence highlighting key lessons learned during the pandemic to promote learning for all during school closure and provides actionable policy recommendations on how to bridge the digital divide and build resilient education systems in Europe and Central Asia.

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