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UNICEF Innocenti's complete catalogue of research and reports
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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Best of UNICEF Research 2021
Best of UNICEF Research 2021
Published: 2021 Miscellanea

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 health care? 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.

A Lifeline at Risk: COVID-19, Remittances and Children
A Lifeline at Risk: COVID-19, Remittances and Children

AUTHOR(S)
Gilmar Zambrana Cruz; Gwyther Rees

Published: 2020 Miscellanea
Millions of children around the world, particularly in low- and middle-income countries, live in households that receive money and other forms of support from a family member who has moved abroad, or to another part of the same country, to work. This form of assistance, or ‘remittances’, can alleviate household poverty and is often a key support for children’s development. In times of global economic uncertainty, however, remittances can be an unstable source of income for families. The COVID-19 pandemic is disproportionately affecting migrant workers’ job security, making it more difficult to send remittances. At the same time, families receiving remittances are facing their own economic and health challenges, meaning that the continuation of remittances is vital to keep them from slipping into poverty. This briefing paper outlines the potential risks of reduction in remittances due to the pandemic for children in households receiving remittances and what can be done to minimize these risks.
Can social assistance (with a child lens) help in reducing urban poverty in Ghana? Evidence, challenges and the way forward
Can social assistance (with a child lens) help in reducing urban poverty in Ghana? Evidence, challenges and the way forward

AUTHOR(S)
Stephen Devereux; Abdul-Gafaru Abdulai; Jose Cuesta; Jaideep Gupte; Luigi Peter Ragno; Keetie Roelen; Rachel Sabates-Wheeler; Tayllor Spadafora

Published: 2018 Innocenti Working Papers
Experience with urban social assistance programmes is still limited. Many of the existing urban programmes are extensions or duplicates of rural programmes, but urban-sensitive social protection needs to reflect the distinct vulnerabilities of the urban poor. Furthermore, applying a child lens requires identifying and addressing the specific risks and multiple deprivations that are experienced by half of urban children in developing countries. As a result, designing social assistance for urban contexts faces challenges such as accurately targeting the poor (given the spatial geography of urban poverty) and setting appropriate payment levels (given the high and variable costs of urban living). Geographic targeting (e.g. informal settlements), proxy means testing (if urban-sensitive) and categorical targeting (e.g. street children) are popular mechanisms in urban areas, but community-based targeting is often inappropriate (because of urban social fragmentation) while self-targeting can be unethical (e.g. where wages below market rates are paid in public works projects) and might contradict rights-based approaches. These are relevant challenges to address when designing urban social protection programmes. We apply these reflections to Ghana. The country is a relevant case study because it is growing and urbanizing rapidly.  But as the result of urbanization, urban poverty and deprivations are rising even though national poverty rates have halved. Anti-poverty policies and social protection interventions remain biased towards the rural poor. The ‘urbanization of poverty’ in Ghana has created problems such as overcrowded housing, limited access to sanitation, and outbreaks of communicable diseases. This paper provides guidance on the critical questions to ask to design in Ghana a successful urban social protection programme with a child lens.
Linking Social Rights to Active Citizenship for the Most Vulnerable: The role of rights and accountability in the 'making and 'shaping' of social protection
Linking Social Rights to Active Citizenship for the Most Vulnerable: The role of rights and accountability in the 'making and 'shaping' of social protection

AUTHOR(S)
Rachel Sabates-Wheeler; Abdul-Gafaru Abdulai; Nikhil Wilmink; Richard de Groot; Tayllor Spadafora

Published: 2017 Innocenti Working Papers
The rise of social protection into the limelight of social policy has opened up space for understanding how it can act as a key interface between states and citizens. This paper rethinks social protection through the lens of citizenship. It considers how the design and implementation of social protection can be shifted away from discretionary and technocratic forms, to forms which stimulate vulnerable citizens to make justice-based claims for their rights and demand accountability for the realization of those rights. It puts forward a conceptual framework for social protection with three modalities through which citizens can be engaged: as shapers and makers; as users and choosers; and as passive consumers.
Cite this publication | No. of pages: 44 | Thematic area: Social Policies | Tags: citizenship, poverty, social protection
Sustainable Development Goal 1.2: Multidimensional child poverty in the European Union
Sustainable Development Goal 1.2: Multidimensional child poverty in the European Union

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

Published: 2017 Innocenti Working Papers

The new universal Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) call for “reducing at least by half the proportion of men, women and children of all ages living in poverty in all its dimensions according to national definitions” by 2030. Since few European Union (EU) countries have an official national multidimensional poverty measure for monitoring progress towards the SDGs, this paper proposes and evaluates a child-specific multidimensional poverty measure using data from ad hoc material deprivation modules of the European Union Statistics on Income and Living Conditions (EU-SILC) 2009 and 2014. The proposed measure can be used both for national and EU-wide SDG monitoring without replacing either national or EU-wide indices of material deprivation. Comparing child multidimensional poverty rates between 2009 and 2014, the paper ranks EU countries based on the 2014 headcount rates and changes over time.

A revised version of this working paper has been published in the Journal of Poverty and Social Justice

Comparing Child-focused SDGs in High-income Countries: Indicator development and overview
Comparing Child-focused SDGs in High-income Countries: Indicator development and overview

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

Published: 2017 Innocenti Working Papers
The new Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development aim to build on the achievements made under the UN Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by broadening their scope and building upon a consultative process. The MDGs contributed to substantial social progress in eight key areas: poverty; education; gender equality; child mortality; maternal health; disease; the environment; and global partnership. The SDGs not only include a greater number of development goals than the MDGs, but are also global in focus, including advanced economies for the first time. This paper draws attention to the main challenges the 2030 Agenda presents for rich countries, by highlighting a set of critical child specific indicators, evaluating countries’ progress towards meeting the Goals, and highlighting gaps in existing data. The paper will inform UNICEFs Report Card 14, Building the Future: Children and the Sustainable Development Goals in Rich 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.

Initial Research Findings on Adolescent Well-being from the Office of Research – Innocenti
Initial Research Findings on Adolescent Well-being from the Office of Research – Innocenti

AUTHOR(S)
Prerna Banati

Published: 2016 Innocenti Research Briefs

This research programme aims to advance global understanding of social and structural determinants of adolescent well-being. The multi-donor research programme on social and structural determinants of adolescent well-being is working with national government partners, academics, think tanks, and institutions to improve understanding of various dimensions of adolescents’ lives. The programme is producing cutting-edge research that explores what works to improve outcomes for adolescents. Quality evidence can then inform effective policy and interventions for young people.

How Inequalities Develop through Childhood: Life course evidence from the Young Lives cohort study
How Inequalities Develop through Childhood: Life course evidence from the Young Lives cohort study

AUTHOR(S)
Paul Dornan; Martin Woodhead

Published: 2015 Innocenti Discussion Papers
This paper contributes longitudinal research evidence on these issues, notably: the impact of structural inequalities on children’s development within households and communities; the ways access to health, education and other key services may reduce or amplify inequalities; and especially evidence on the ways that children’s developmental trajectories diverge from early in life, through to early adulthood.
Cash Transfers and Climate-resilient Development: Evidence from Zambia’s Child Grant Programme
Cash Transfers and Climate-resilient Development: Evidence from Zambia’s Child Grant Programme

AUTHOR(S)
Kathleen Lawlor; Sudhanshu Handa; David Seidenfeld; Zambia Cash Transfer Evaluation Team

Published: 2015 Innocenti Working Papers
This study investigates whether cash transfers enable households facing weather and other negative income shocks to avoid adverse coping strategies that can lead to poverty traps. While cash transfers are not routinely considered in the policy discourse concerning climate adaptation programming, because ex-ante transfers enable households to avoid negative coping strategies and even increase food consumption in the face of covariate weather shocks, cash transfers offer a sound approach for building climate-resilience amongst the world’s most vulnerable and facilitating their “autonomous adaptation” to a changing environment. Cash also enables households to productively cope with the many other idiosyncratic shocks the rural poor routinely face.
Household Welfare Measurement in Bangladesh: A tale of two short consumption modules
Household Welfare Measurement in Bangladesh: A tale of two short consumption modules

AUTHOR(S)
Luisa Natali; Chris De Neubourg

Published: 2014 Innocenti Working Papers
Two short consumption modules were piloted in Bogra and Sirajganj (Bangladesh) in May-June 2012 as part of the Global MICS5 Pilot. This paper aims at validating this exercise and assessing the accuracy and reliability of the consumption estimates obtained. The use of a benchmark consumption module is essential in order to assess how well the two short options fare; the analysis therefore consists of a systematic comparison of both short modules with a benchmark. The attempt made is to isolate and test the impact of the length (degree of commodity) of the consumption questionnaire on the quality of consumption and poverty estimates as well as distributional measures obtained. We conclude that it is feasible to include a short consumption module in MICS (Multiple Indicator Cluster Surveys).
Child Poverty and Deprivation in Mali: The first national estimates
Child Poverty and Deprivation in Mali: The first national estimates

AUTHOR(S)
Marlous de Milliano; Sudhanshu Handa

Published: 2014 Innocenti Working Papers
In Mali the national child deprivation rate is 50%, slightly higher than the national (monetary) child poverty rate of 46%. The overlap of children who are both poor and deprived is 29% of all children, hence not all children who are deprived are living in poor households as defined by the national poverty line. Only 58% of children who are deprived live in poor households. Similarly, only 62% of children in poor households are multidimensionally deprived. Consequently, policies that are targeted exclusively on monetary poverty will miss children who are deprived.
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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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