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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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Economic Crisis and Child Well-being in the West and Central Africa Region
Economic Crisis and Child Well-being in the West and Central Africa Region
Published: 2021 Innocenti Research Report
The COVID-19 pandemic that swept over the world from early 2020 has triggered both health and economic shocks of unprecedented proportions in recent memory. Some estimates suggest that the consequences of these shocks will likely erase most of the progress made in global development over the past two decades. Many countries now risk falling further behind the attainment of national and international development goals, including the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. Children are particularly vulnerable to the effects of these shocks due to their persistent higher levels of vulnerability, and the reality that school closures and other COVID-19 containment measures can be more damaging to children. 

This report examines the effect of previous economic crises on children’s well-being in UNICEF’s West and Central Africa Region (WCAR) and makes projections regarding the potential impacts of COVID-19-induced economic crises on priority indicators for the region. 
Supporting Families and Children Beyond COVID-19: Social protection in high-income countries
Supporting Families and Children Beyond COVID-19: Social protection in high-income countries

AUTHOR(S)
Dominic Richardson; Alessandro Carraro; Victor Cebotari; Anna Gromada

Published: 2020 Innocenti Research Report
COVID-19 constitutes the greatest crisis that high-income countries have seen in many generations. While many high-income countries experienced the global financial crisis of 2007–2008, or have had national recessions, the COVID-19 pandemic is much more than that. COVID-19 is a social and economic crisis, sparked by a protracted health crisis.

High-income countries have very limited experience of dealing with health crises, having their health and human services stretched beyond capacity, restricting the travel of their populations or having to close workplaces and schools – let alone experience of all of these things combined. These unique conditions create new and serious challenges for the economies and societies of all high-income countries. As these challenges evolve, children – as dependants – are among those at greatest risk of seeing their living standards fall and their personal well-being decline.

This new UNICEF Innocenti report explores how the social and economic impact of the pandemic is likely to affect children; the initial government responses to the crisis; and how future public policies could be optimized to better support children. 
Supporting Families and Children Beyond COVID-19: Social protection in Southern and Eastern Europe and Central Asia
Supporting Families and Children Beyond COVID-19: Social protection in Southern and Eastern Europe and Central Asia
Published: 2020 Innocenti Research Report
Discussions around the effects of the COVID-19 crisis and its impacts and costs are moving swiftly from health concerns to economic and social concerns. The ways in which countries are dealing with COVID-19 itself, through social lockdowns and school closures, are expected to have wide-ranging social and economic costs and governments have responded with rapid implementation of fiscal stimulus and social protection reforms.

COVID-19 is a global health crisis, with severe economic consequences, impacting countries and continents in waves, and therefore is – with the exception of the Spanish Flu in 1918 – without a recent comparator. Necessarily this means that experience with, and evidence for, dealing with such a crisis is limited.

Acknowledging that health, economic, and social crises can rapidly become a crisis for children, this paper seeks to contribute evidence to understanding what the crisis means for children and for families with children in the countries of Southern and Eastern Europe and Central Asia. In particular, what governments and stakeholders should be looking for when seeking to protect children from the worst outcomes of the crisis. In doing so, this paper asks: Through which mechanisms can COVID-19 affect children in the region? What can we learn from previous crises about the potential effects on children and those who care for children? How is vulnerability to poverty and child well-being likely to be affected? Are initial government responses to the crisis likely to worsen or mitigate risks to children’s well-being? And how might future public policies be optimized in the short and medium term to protect child outcomes?
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.

 

Children of Austerity: Impact of the Great Recession on Child Poverty in Rich Countries
Children of Austerity: Impact of the Great Recession on Child Poverty in Rich Countries

AUTHOR(S)
Yekaterina Chzhen; Sudhanshu Handa; Brian Nolan; Bea Cantillon

Published: 2017 Miscellanea
The 2008 financial crisis triggered the worst global recession since the Great Depression. Many OECD countries responded to the crisis by reducing social spending. Through 11 diverse country case studies (Belgium, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Spain, Sweden, United Kingdom, and the United States), this volume describes the evolution of child poverty and material well-being during the crisis, and links these outcomes with the responses by governments. The analysis underlines that countries with fragmented social protection systems were less able to protect the incomes of households with children at the time when unemployment soared. In contrast, countries with more comprehensive social protection cushioned the impact of the crisis on households with children, especially if they had implemented fiscal stimulus packages at the onset of the crisis. Although the macroeconomic 'shock' itself and the starting positions differed greatly across countries, while the responses by governments covered a very wide range of policy levers and varied with their circumstances, cuts in social spending and tax increases often played a major role in the impact that the crisis had on the living standards of families and children.
Significant Changes to Family-related Benefits in Rich Countries during the Great Recession
Significant Changes to Family-related Benefits in Rich Countries during the Great Recession

AUTHOR(S)
Saara Hämäläinen; Yekaterina Chzhen; Jorge Vargas

Published: 2014 Innocenti Working Papers
To analyse the effect of the economic crisis and the ensuing fiscal stimulus and/or consolidation measures on children’s living conditions across the OECD and/or the EU, this paper investigates changes in disposable incomes of low-wage households with children since 2008, with a particular focus on family-related benefits. It uses the model family method coupled with tax-benefit simulation techniques for the period 2008-2012. The paper also summarises qualitatively significant changes to family-related benefits, some of which are too recent to have been included in the publicly available tax-benefit simulation models.
Children of the Recession: The impact of the economic crisis on child well-being in rich countries
Children of the Recession: The impact of the economic crisis on child well-being in rich countries

AUTHOR(S)
Gonzalo Fanjul

Published: 2014 Innocenti Report Card
As the data in this new edition of the Innocenti Report Card series show, in the past five years, rising numbers of children and their families have experienced difficulty in satisfying their most basic material and educational needs. Most importantly, the Great Recession is about to trap a generation of educated and capable youth in a limbo of unmet expectations and lasting vulnerability. League Tables, the flagship tool of the Innocenti Report Card series, rank the change, since the onset of the crisis, in the poverty levels of children and the impact of the recession on youth. The Report also explores the effects of the recession on youth seeking to enter or remain in the labour force in the middle of a recession.
Figli della recessione: L'impatto della crisi economica sul benessere dei bambini nei paesi ricchi
Figli della recessione: L'impatto della crisi economica sul benessere dei bambini nei paesi ricchi

AUTHOR(S)
Gonzalo Fanjul

Published: 2014 Innocenti Report Card
Come dimostrano i dati riportati in questa nuova edizione della Innocenti Report Card, negli ultimi cinque anni è aumentato il numero di bambini e di famiglie che incontrano difficoltà a soddisfare le più fondamentali esigenze materiali ed educative. Cosa ancor più importante, la Grande Recessione sta per intrappolare una generazione di giovani istruiti e capaci in un limbo di aspettative insoddisfatte e di perdurante vulnerabilità. Delle classifiche forniscono una "graduatoria del benessere". Tali classifiche valutano infatti le variazioni, dall'inizio della crisi, dei livelli di povertà dei bambini e l'impatto della recessione sui giovani. Il rapporto esplore inoltre gli effetti della recessione sui giovani che cercano di entrare, o di rimanere, nel mondo del lavoro nel bel mezzo di una recessione.
Les enfants de la récession : Impact de la crise économique sur le bien-être des enfants dans les pays riches
Les enfants de la récession : Impact de la crise économique sur le bien-être des enfants dans les pays riches

AUTHOR(S)
Gonzalo Fanjul

Published: 2014 Innocenti Report Card
Comme le montrent les données de ce nouveau numéro de la série des Bilans Innocenti, de plus en plus d’enfants et de familles ont eu des difficultés à répondre à leurs besoins matériels et éducatifs les plus essentiels ces cinq dernières années. Plus inquiétant encore, la Grande Récession est sur le point de plonger une génération de jeunes instruits et compétents dans les limbes d’attentes non satisfaites et dans une vulnérabilité durable. Des tableaux de classement indiquent l’évolution du niveau de pauvreté des enfants depuis le début de la crise et l’impact de la récession sur les jeunes. Le rapport étudie également les effets de la récession sur les jeunes qui cherchent à entrer ou à rester sur le marché du travail malgré la récession.
Los niños de la recesión: El impacto de la crisis económica en el bienestar infantil en los países ricos
Los niños de la recesión: El impacto de la crisis económica en el bienestar infantil en los países ricos

AUTHOR(S)
Gonzalo Fanjul

Published: 2014 Innocenti Report Card
Los datos que se exponen en esta nueva edición de la serie Report Card de Innocenti demuestran que, en los últimos cinco años, un número creciente de niños y familias han tenido dificultades para satisfacer sus necesidades materiales y educativas más fundamentales. Lo que es más importante, la Gran Recesión está a punto de atrapar a una generación de jóvenes formados y capaces en un limbo de expectativas insatisfechas y vulnerabilidad duradera. Una serie de tablas clasificatorias reflejan los cambios experimentados desde el inicio de la crisis en el nivel de pobreza de los niños, y la incidencia de la recesión entre los jóvenes. También el informe examina las consecuencias de la recesión para los jóvenes que tratan de introducirse en el mercado laboral o intentan mantenerse en él en plena recesión.
Exploring the Late Impact of the Financial Crisis using Gallup World Poll Data
Exploring the Late Impact of the Financial Crisis using Gallup World Poll Data

AUTHOR(S)
Goran Holmqvist; Luisa Natali

Published: 2014 Innocenti Working Papers
This paper explores the use of Gallup World Poll Data to assess the impact of the Great Recession on various dimensions of well-being in 41 OECD and/or EU countries from 2007 up until 2013. It should be read as a complementary background paper to the UNICEF Report Card which explores trends in child well-being in EU/OECD countries since 2007/8. Overall the findings provide clear indications that the crisis has had an impact across a number of self-reported dimensions of well-being. Indeed, a strong correlation between the intensity of the recession and the worsening of people’s perceptions about their own life is recorded since 2007. Data also indicate that the impact has still not peaked in a number of countries where indicators were still deteriorating as late as 2013. A “League Table” is also presented where countries are ranked in terms of change between 2007 and 2013 for four selected Gallup World Poll indicators related material well-being, perceptions of how society treats its children, health and subjective well-being.
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.
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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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