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Best of UNICEF Research 2021
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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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Impacts of the Global Crisis and Policy Responses on Child Well-being: A macro-micro simulation framework
Impacts of the Global Crisis and Policy Responses on Child Well-being: A macro-micro simulation framework
Published: 2010 Innocenti Working Papers
This paper outlines the methodology of a UNICEF research project on the impact of the global economic crisis on children in Western and Central Africa, which can also be applied to study the effects of other socio-economic shocks on households and particularly on children in developing countries. To understand the nature and the extent of the effects of a crisis in developing countries requires a rigorous analysis of the transmission mechanisms at both the macro and micro levels. This paper provides a tool to attempt to predict ex ante the impacts of the crisis, and possible policy responses, on households and their children. As timely data monitoring child well-being are not readily available to guide the rapid implementation of policies to protect children, a predictive model was developed that anticipates the impacts of the crisis on various essential dimensions of child wellbeing. Specifically, this paper proposes and discusses a combined macro-micro model following a top-down approach.
L'impact de la hausse des prix des produits alimentaires sur la pauvreté des enfants et les reponses politiques au Mali
L'impact de la hausse des prix des produits alimentaires sur la pauvreté des enfants et les reponses politiques au Mali
Published: 2009 Innocenti Working Papers
Depuis 2006, le Mali subit de plein fouet les effets de la crise alimentaire mondiale avec des augmentations de prix allant jusqu'à 67%. Cette étude propose des simulations des impacts de cette crise et de diverses politiques de réponse sur le bien-être des enfants. Les impacts analysés se situent au niveau de la pauvreté monétaire (alimentaire), la nutrition, l'éducation, le travail et l'accès aux services de santé des enfants. Selon les simulations, chez les enfants la pauvreté alimentaire aura augmenté de 41 à 51% et le taux d'insuffisance calorique de 32 à 40%, alors que les impacts sur leur participation scolaire, leur travail et leur accès aux services de santé auront été assez faibles. Pour préparer une réponse adéquate, le gouvernement doit tout d'abord identifier les individus pauvres à protéger sur la base d'un nombre restreint de caractéristiques sociodémographiques facilement observables. Dans cette étude, une méthode de ciblage est proposée. Toutefois, les simulations du modèle de ciblage montrent qu’environ un quart des enfants pauvres sont exclus par erreur (souscouverture), alors que plus du tiers des enfants non-pauvres sont inclus par erreur (fuites). Ces erreurs de ciblage, qui augmentent proportionnellement lorsqu'on vise les pauvres extrêmes, réduisent l'impact et augmentent les coûts de toute intervention politique. Cela dit, il est à noter que les fuites peuvent quand même agir au niveau de l'insuffisance calorique, de la participation scolaire, du travail des enfants et de l'accès aux services de santé où les besoins ne se trouvent pas exclusivement du côté des enfants pauvres. Le ciblage des enfants ou même des sous-groupes, par âge, d'enfants se bute au problème de la diffusion probable des bénéfices aux autres membres du ménage. De plus, pour des décisions concernant le travail, l'éducation et l'accès aux services de santé, c'est le revenu total du ménage qui est déterminant. La politique de cantines scolaires se révèle particulièrement efficace du fait qu'elle concentre tous les fonds publics consentis exclusivement sur la consommation alimentaire hautement nutritive, alors que des transferts en espèces aux ménages peuvent servir à diverses fins. De plus, il est probable qu'elle ait des impacts souhaitables sur la scolarisation et le travail des enfants. Toutefois, certaines mises en garde s'imposent sur l'exclusion des enfants qui ne participent pas à l'école, la difficulté de cibler uniquement les enfants pauvres et la possibilité que l'enfant se voit réduire proportionnellement ses rations alimentaires à l’intérieur du ménage.
Global Climate Change and Child Health: A review of pathways, impacts and measures to improve the evidence base
Global Climate Change and Child Health: A review of pathways, impacts and measures to improve the evidence base
Published: 2009 Innocenti Discussion Papers
This paper reviews the published evidence of pathways and impacts of global climate change on child health. The review was occasioned by the recognition that most of the work to date on climate change and health lacks clear focus on the children's dimension, while the climate change and children literature tends to be brief or imprecise on the complex health aspects.
Studies were identified by searching the PubMed database for articles published before April 2009. Publications by agencies (e.g., UNICEF, WHO, IPPC) were also included based upon review. A list of references was developed that provide evidence to the linkages between climate change and health outcomes, and on specific health outcomes for children. The analysis explores the hypothesis of disproportionate vulnerability of children’s health to environmental factors, specifically those most closely related to climate change.
Based upon scientific and policy research conducted to date there is found to be substantial evidence of disproportionate vulnerability of children in response to climate change. The diseases likely to be potentiated by climate change are already the primary causes of child morbidity and mortality, including vector-borne diseases, water-borne diseases and air-borne diseases. For this reason further research, assessment and monitoring of child health in respect to climate change is critical. Proposals are made for governments to integrate environmental health indicators into data collection in order to accurately assess the state of child health in relation to other age groups and its sensitivity to climate change.
The Impact of the Increase in Food Prices on Child Poverty and the Policy Response in Mali
The Impact of the Increase in Food Prices on Child Poverty and the Policy Response in Mali
Published: 2009 Innocenti Working Papers
Since 2006, Mali has experienced the full effects of the global food crisis, with price increases of up to 67%. This study presents simulations of the impacts of this crisis and a number of policy responses with respect to the welfare of children. The impacts are analyzed in terms of monetary (food) poverty, nutrition, education, child labour and access to health services of children. According to simulations, food poverty among children would have increased from 41% to 51%, with a corresponding rise in caloric insufficiency from 32% to 40%, while the impacts on school participation, work and access to health services would have been relatively weak. To prepare an adequate response, the government should start by identifying the poor individuals who are to be protected, based on a limited number of easily observed sociodemographic characteristics. A method of targeting these individuals is proposed in this study. However, simulations show that with targeting about one quarter of poor children would be erroneously excluded (under-coverage), while more than a third of non-poor children would be erroneously included (leakage). These identification errors, which increase in proportion with the extremity of poverty, reduce the impact and increase the cost of any public interventions. That having been said, it is important to note that leakage to the non-poor can nonetheless improve the conditions of children in terms of caloric intake, school participation, child labour and access to health services, none of which are exclusive to poor children. When targeting children or sub-groups of children by age, benefits will likely be deflected to some extent to other family members. Moreover, it is total household income, regardless of the member targeted, that determines decisions relating to child work, education or access to health services. School feeding programmes are found to be a particularly efficient policy in that they concentrate public funds exclusively on the consumption of highly nutritious foods, while cash transfers can be used by households for other purposes. Moreover, school feeding programmes are likely to have desirable effects on school participation and child labour. However, there are some caveats due to the fact that these programmes exclude children who do not attend school, the difficulty of exclusively targeting poor children and the possibility that child food rations at home will be proportionally reduced.
Child Mortality and Injury in Asia: An overview
Child Mortality and Injury in Asia: An overview
Published: 2007 Innocenti Working Papers
Special Series on Child Injury no. 1.

This paper presents an overview of the IRC Child Injury Series, a working paper series on child injury that has its first focus on injury in developing countries. The series summarizes the findings of 6 national and sub-national surveys in Asia, in Bangladesh, China, Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam. Undertaken using a new methodology resembling a census, the surveys found that injury is the leading cause of death after infancy in children through 17 years of age in all five countries reviewed. The methodology involved creating a very large, representative sample of households in each national/sub-national survey and directly counting all mortality events in the previous three years and all morbidity events that required missing work, school, or being hospitalized from injury in the previous year. The results show that current estimates of child mortality miss most injury deaths in early childhood. Current estimates do not include children five years and over. As a result, injury, which is a leading cause of death in children under five, and the leading cause of death in children five years and over, is currently invisible to policymakers and is not included in child health programmes.
Child Mortality and Injury in Asia: Survey methods
Child Mortality and Injury in Asia: Survey methods
Published: 2007 Innocenti Working Papers
Special Series on Child Injury no.2

This paper presents a more detailed description of the survey methodology for technical specialists interested in understanding the major differences between the surveys and the methods previously used to estimate child deaths. A detailed description is provided for survey governance, sampling design, survey instruments, the classification scheme for mortality and morbidity measured in the surveys, the fieldwork procedure, the analytic framework, weighting and adjustments, and survey costs. Following this, a number of methodological lessons are addressed, such as: the need to count all children and not only those under five years of age; the need to count all clearly identifiable causes of death in those same groups; the need to count morbidity as well as mortality; and the need to count the deaths in the community where they occur to avoid the various biases associated with facility-based counting. A number of examples from the surveys are shown to illuminate the issues so that they are clear to non-technical readers.
Child Mortality and Injury in Asia: Survey results and evidence
Child Mortality and Injury in Asia: Survey results and evidence
Published: 2007 Innocenti Working Papers
Special Series on Child Injury no.3

This paper presents a detailed description of the survey results which were introduced in the Overview Paper. Detailed results are presented first for proportional mortality in children by age group for a population-weighted composite of the surveys, and then for the individual surveys. Following this, detailed results are presented for fatal injury by national or sub-national area, region (urban/rural), and gender for the 0-17 age group. After this the types of fatal injury that occur in the different stages of childhood are presented. The second part of the paper presents both fatal and nonfatal injury by type of injury for the composite of the surveys as well as the individual surveys themselves. The results show that the leading causes of nonfatal injury differ from those of fatal injury, and the greatest burden is caused by the more serious categories of nonfatal injury. Finally, the ratio of the two leading causes of fatal injury in children, drowning and road accidents, are presented for each of the surveys. Drowning is shown to be the leading cause of fatal childhood injury in each survey. The paper concludes with a discussion of the major issues highlighted by the results of the surveys.
Child Mortality and Injury in Asia: Policy and programme implications
Child Mortality and Injury in Asia: Policy and programme implications
Published: 2007 Innocenti Working Papers
Special Series on Child Injury no.4

This paper presents a summary of the findings of the national and sub-national surveys and discusses the implications of the results on child health policy and programmes.The principal finding is that injury has generally been unrecognized as a leading cause of child death. This is largely because the previous estimates of child mortality causality were unable to include injury due to technical issues. The surveys provide convincing evidence that injury is a leading cause of child death after infancy and the types of injury vary with the age group of the child. Similar convincing evidence shows that it is a leading cause of serious morbidity and permanent disability in children The implications discussed are 1) the need to develop an effective measure of child mortality that includes all ages of childhood; 2) prevention of mortality and serious morbidity from injury in children will require a life-cycle approach; 3) continued progress on child survival programming in children under five years of age will require injury reductions; 4) that drowning is the single injury cause responsible for about half of all injury deaths and targeting it for reduction would be an efficient strategy; and 5) there are efficient strategies for targeting other sub-types of child injury as well.
Child Poverty in Perspective: An overview of child well-being in rich countries
Child Poverty in Perspective: An overview of child well-being in rich countries
Published: 2007 Innocenti Report Card
This report builds and expands upon the analyses of Report Card No. 6 which considered relative income poverty affecting children and policies to mitigate it. Report Card 7 provides a pioneering, comprehensive picture of child well being through the consideration of six dimensions: material well-being, health and safety, education, family and peer relationships, subjective well-being, behaviours and lifestyles informed by the Convention on the Rights of the Child and relevant academic literature.
Prospettiva sulla povertà infantile: un quadro comparativo sul benessere dei bambini nei paesi ricchi
Prospettiva sulla povertà infantile: un quadro comparativo sul benessere dei bambini nei paesi ricchi
Published: 2007 Innocenti Report Card
Questo rapporto presenta un'estesa analisi della condizione e del benessere dei bambini e dei giovani in 21 paesi del mondo industrializzato. Si pone l'obiettivo di favorire il monitoraggio, di consentire la comparazione e di stimolare il dibattito e lo sviluppo di politiche volte a migliorare la vita dei bambini. Lo studio si pone l'obiettivo di misurare e comparare il benessere dei bambini e dei giovani esaminandolo alla luce di sei parametri diversi: il benessere materiale, la salute e la sicurezza, l'istruzione, i rapporti con la famiglia ed i coetanei, i comportamenti e rischi, e la auto-percezione che essi hanno del proprio benessere.
Pobreza infantil en perspectiva: un panorama del bienestar infantil en los países ricos
Pobreza infantil en perspectiva: un panorama del bienestar infantil en los países ricos
Published: 2007 Innocenti Report Card
Este Report Card proporciona un amplio análisis de la vida y el bienestar de niños y jóvenes de 21 naciones del mundo industrializado. Su objetivo es promover la supervisión, permitir comparaciones y estimular la discusión y el desarrollo de políticas que permitan mejorar la vida e los niños, niñas y adolescentes. El informe representa un avance significativo con respecto a títulos anteriores de esta serie que han usado la pobreza de ingresos como una medida indirecta del bienestar infantil general en los países de la OCDE. Específicamente, intenta medir y comparar el bienestar infantil según seis epígrafes o dimensiones diferentes: bienestar material, salud y seguridad, educación, relaciones familiares y entre iguales, conductas y riesgos y percepción subjetiva de bienestar entre los adolescentes.
La pauvreté des enfants en perspective : vue d’ensemble du bien-être des enfants dans les pays riches
La pauvreté des enfants en perspective : vue d’ensemble du bien-être des enfants dans les pays riches
Published: 2007 Innocenti Report Card
Ce rapport à la fois exploite et développe les analyses contenues dans le Bilan 6 qui traitait de la pauvreté de revenu relative des enfants ainsi que des politiques en mesure d’y remédier. Le Bilan 7, qui s’appuie sur la Convention relative aux droits de l’enfant ainsi que sur les résultats de la recherche universitaire en la matière, fournit une vue d’ensemble innovatrice du bien-être de l’enfant à travers l’examen de six dimensions: bien-être matériel, santé et sécurité, éducation, relations avec la famille et les pairs, bien-être subjectif, comportements et styles de vie.
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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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