Shocks can pressure families into negative coping strategies with significant drawbacks for children’s lives and development, particularly for children living in disadvantaged households who are at greater risk of falling into a poverty trap. This paper investigates if unconditional cash transfers can be effective in protecting children against unexpected negative life events. Using two waves of data, we found that the Lesotho Child Grant Programme reduced the incidence and intensity of multidimensional deprivation for children living in labour-constrained female-headed households that experienced negative economic or demographic shocks. Programme design in shock-prone contexts should seek to reinforce and widen the protective effect of the cash transfer for the most vulnerable.
Of 1.2 billion adolescents in the world today, 90% live in low- and middle-income countries. These adolescents not only face many challenges but also represent a resource to be cultivated through educational opportunities and vocational training to move them toward economic independence, through initiatives to improve reproductive health, and through positive interpersonal relationships to help them avoid risky behaviors and make positive decisions about their futures. This volume tackles the challenges and promise of adolescence by presenting cutting-edge research on adolescent social, emotional, behavioral, cognitive, and physical development; promising programs from different countries to promote adolescents’ positive development; and policies that can advance adolescents’ rights within the framework of international initiatives, such as the Convention on the Rights of the Child and Sustainable Development Goals, which are guiding the international development agenda through 2030. This volume seeks to provide actionable strategies for policymakers and practitioners working with adolescents. Disconnects between national-level policies and local services, as well as lack of continuity with early childhood responses, present a significant challenge to ensuring a coherent approach for adolescents. Increasingly, adolescent participation and demands for rights-based approaches are seen and often unfortunately conflated with violence. This volume adopts a positive framing of adolescence, representing young people as opportunities rather than threats, and a valued investment both at individual and societal levels, contributing to a positive shift in discourses around young people.
The methods used to identify beneficiaries of programmes aiming to address persistent poverty and shocks are subject to frequent policy debates. Relying on panel data from Niger, this paper analyses the performance of different targeting methods that are widely used by development and humanitarian actors and explores how they can be applied as part of an adaptive social protection (ASP) system. The methods include proxy-means testing (PMT), household economy analysis (HEA), geographical targeting, and combined methods. Results show that PMT performs better in identifying persistently poor households, while HEA performs better in identifying transiently food insecure households. Geographical targeting is particularly efficient in responding to food crises, which tend to be largely covariate in nature. Combinations of geographical, PMT, and HEA approaches may be used as part of an efficient and scalable ASP system. Results motivate the consolidation of data across programmes, which can support the application of alternative targeting methods tailored to programme-specific objectives.
Based on an evidence-focused literature review, the first part of this paper examines existing knowledge on how the time children spend using digital technology impacts their well-being across three dimensions; mental/psychological, social and physical. The evidence reviewed here is largely inconclusive with respect to impact on children’s physical activity, but indicates that digital technology seems to be beneficial for children’s social relationships. In terms of impact on children’s mental well-being, the most robust studies suggest that the relationship is U-shaped, where no use and excessive use can have a small negative impact on mental well-being, while moderate use can have a small positive impact. In the second part of the paper, the hypothetical idea of addiction to technology is introduced and scrutinized. This is followed by an overview of the hypothetical idea that digital technology might re-wire or hijack children’s brains; an assumption that is challenged by recent neuroscience evidence. In conclusion, considerable methodological limitations exist across the spectrum of research on the impact of digital technology on child well-being, including the majority of the studies on time use reviewed here, and those studies concerned with clinical or brain impacts. This prompts reconsideration of how research in this area is conducted. Finally, recommendations for strengthening research practices are offered.
The broad-ranging benefits of cash transfers are now widely recognized. However, the evidence base highlights that they often fall short in achieving longer-term and second-order impacts related to nutrition, learning outcomes and morbidity. In recognition of these limitations, several ‘cash plus’ initiatives have been introduced, whereby cash transfers are combined with one or more types of complementary support. This paper aims to identify key factors for successful implementation of these increasingly popular ‘cash plus’ programmes, based on (i) a review of the emerging evidence base of ‘cash plus’ interventions and (ii) an examination of three case studies, namely, Chile Solidario in Chile, IN-SCT in Ethiopia and LEAP in Ghana. The analysis was guided by a conceptual framework proposing a menu of ‘cash plus’ components. The assessment of three case studies indicated that effective implementation of ‘cash plus’ components has indeed contributed to greater impacts of the respective programmes. Such initiatives have thereby addressed some of the non-financial and structural barriers that poor people face and have reinforced the positive effects of cash transfer programmes. In design of such programmes, further attention should be paid to the constraints faced by the most vulnerable and how such constraints can be overcome. We conclude with recommendations regarding the provision of complementary support and cross-sectoral linkages based on lessons learned from the case studies. More research is still needed on the impact of the many variations of ‘cash plus’ programming, including evidence on the comparative roles of individual ‘plus’ components, as well as the knowledge, attitudes and behaviour pathways which influence these impacts.
Keetie Roelen; Stephen Devereux; Abdul-Gafaru Abdulai; Bruno Martorano; Tia Palermo; Luigi Peter Ragno
Enabling and protective systems for adolescents are the family, peers and the education and legal systems. In addition to research that focuses on individual adolescents, it is also important for researchers to consider measuring social determinants when conducting research on adolescent well-being. This brief reviews the key concepts of social and structural determinants of health and the methodological issues related to their measurement in adolescence.
This paper revisits the relationship between income and happiness and estimates the impact of
a social cash transfer programme on individual subjective well-being. Social cash transfer
programmes provide consistent, non-contributory income to targeted, poor households.
In Latin America, they are usually conditioned on measurable behaviours, but in sub-Saharan Africa
they tend to be unconditional.
Kelly Kilburn; Sudhanshu Handa; Gustavo Angeles; Peter Mvula; Maxton Tsoka
The paper uses data from a quasi-experimental evaluation to estimate the impact of the Ghanaian
Government’s unconditional cash transfer programme on schooling outcomes. It analyses the impacts
for children by various subgroups – age, gender, cognitive ability – and finds consistent impacts. There are
differences across gender, especially on secondary schooling, with enrolment significantly higher for boys
13 years or older. For girls, the effect of the Livelihood Empowerment Against Poverty (LEAP) programme
is to improve current attendance among those who are already enrolled in school (across all age groups).
The authors found a significant effect on the expenditure on schooling items such as uniforms and
stationary for these groups, which helps to explain the pathway of impact because these out-of-pocket costs
are typically important barriers to schooling in rural Ghana and most of Africa.
Richard de Groot; Sudhanshu Handa; Mike Park; Robert D. Osei; Isaac Osei-Akoto; Luigi Peter Ragno; Garima Bhalla
Over the past decade, more than a dozen government-run cash transfer programmes have been launched in sub-Saharan Africa, and there is growing evidence of their ability to improve a range of development outcomes. However, setting the size of such transfers is possibly the most important programming decision to be made. This Brief highlights some of the issues to consider.