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.
Target 2.1 of the Sustainable Development Goals calls for an end to hunger, in all its forms, by 2030. Measuring food security among children under age 5, who represent a quarter of the world’s population, remains a challenge that is largely unfeasible for current global monitoring systems. The SDG framework has agreed to use the Food Insecurity Experience Scale (FIES) to measure moderate and severe food insecurity. The FIES is an experience-based metric that reports food-related behaviours on the inability to access food due to resource constraints. We present the first global estimates of the share and number of children below age 15, who live with a respondent who is food insecure.
In this paper we summarize evidence on six perceptions associated with cash transfer programming, using eight rigorous evaluations conducted on large-scale government unconditional cash transfers in sub-Saharan Africa, under the Transfer Project. Specifically, we investigate if transfers: 1) induce higher spending on alcohol or tobacco; 2) are fully consumed (rather than invested); 3) create dependency (reduce participation in productive activities); 4) increase fertility; 5) lead to negative community-level economic impacts (including price distortion and inflation), and 6) are fiscally unsustainable. We present evidence refuting each claim, leading to the conclusion that these perceptions – insofar as they are utilized in policy debates – undercut potential improvements in well-being and livelihood strengthening among the poor, which these programmes can bring about in sub-Saharan Africa, and globally. We conclude by underscoring outstanding research gaps and policy implications for the continued expansion of unconditional cash transfers in the region and beyond.
Early childhood development is a driving force for sustainable development due to its multiplier effects not only on children but also on the community and society at large. Access to ECEC alone is insufficient for achieving positive child outcomes – it must also be of high quality. This Brief aims to summarize the key points of ongoing debate on this issue, and outline some of the challenges faced by high-income countries. A step towards a more holistic monitoring of ECEC would be to develop a coherent national strategy that recognizes diversity while addressing disparities; to respond to the needs of both child and family through strong partnerships with parents and ECE practitioners; and to apply measurement tools that capture a child’s engagement rather than test readiness.
Childhood malnutrition remains a significant global health concern. In order to implement
effective policies to address the issue, it is crucial to first understand the mechanisms underlying
malnutrition. This paper uses a unique dataset from Northern Ghana to explain the underlying causes of
childhood malnutrition. It adopts an empirical framework to model inputs in the production of health and
nutrition, as a function of child, household and community characteristics. The findings suggest that child
characteristics are important in explaining inputs and nutritional outcomes, and that maternal agency and
health contribute to improved health status. Household resources in the form of consumption are
positively associated with food intake and nutritional outcomes. Simulations show that income growth,
improving maternal care and avoiding sudden price shocks have a positive but rather limited effect on the
reduction of malnutrition. Effects are greater in children under two. Hence, policies that address underlying
determinants simultaneously, and target the youngest population of children, could have the largest effect
on reducing malnutrition in this population.
Written primarily for UNICEF staff, funders of research, policy-makers, ethics committee members and researchers, this brief intends to provide principles and approaches to the common challenges in conducting research with adolescents. It emphasizes the value of research with adolescents and discusses at length the importance of balancing inclusion and protection, concluding with a set of ethical ground rules and recommendations for research with adolescents and examples on how to apply them.
The Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) target 1.2 implies that both monetary and non-monetary or multidimensional (MD) child poverty would be measured and monitored, and that the associated indicators would be defined nationally. However, very few countries routinely measure child MD poverty.
We study the impact of the Zimbabwe Harmonized Social Cash Transfer (HSCT) on household food security after 12 months of implementation. The programme has had a strong impact on a well-known food security scale – the Household Food Insecurity Access Scale (HFIAS) – but muted impacts on food consumption expenditure. However aggregate food consumption hides dynamic activity taking place within the household where the cash is used to obtain more food from the market and rely less on food received as gifts.
Garima Bhalla; Sudhanshu Handa; Gustavo Angeles; David Seidenfeld
In sub-Saharan Africa, the poorest region in the world, the number of cash transfer programmes has doubled in the last five years and reaches close to 50 million people. What is the impact of these programmes, and do they offer a sustained pathway out of ultra-poverty? In this paper we examine these questions using experimental data from two unconditional cash transfer programmes implemented by the Government of Zambia. We find far-reaching effects of these two programmes, not just on their primary objective, food security and consumption, but also on a range of productive and economic outcomes. After three years, we observe that household spending is 59 per cent larger than the value of the transfer received, implying a sizeable multiplier effect. These multipliers work through increased non-farm business activity and agricultural production.
Sudhanshu Handa; Luisa Natali; David Seidenfeld; Gelson Tembo; Benjamin Davis