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Innocenti Research Briefs are a newly-introduced series of short papers intended to provide the latest data, analysis, methods and information on a wide range of issues affecting children. The series addresses various sub-themes in a concise and accessible format, convenient for programme managers and decision makers.

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Growing Inequality and Unequal Opportunities in Rich Countries

Inequality can have wide-ranging effects on communities, families and children. Income inequality (measured through the Gini index) was found to have an association with higher levels of peer violence in 35 countries (Elgar et al. 2009) and to influence the use of alcohol and drunkenness among 11- and 13-year olds (Elgar et al. 2005). On a macro level, countries with greater income inequality among children have lower levels of child well-being and higher levels of child poverty (Toczydlowska et al. 2016). More worrying still is that growing inequality reinforces the impact of socio-economic status (SES) on children’s outcomes, limiting social mobility. Concern about growing inequality features prominently on the current international development agenda. Goal 10 of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) calls specifically to reduce inequality within and among countries, while the concept of ‘leaving no one behind’ reflects the spirit of greater fairness in society. But with a myriad of measures and definitions of inequality used in literature, the focus on children is often diluted. This brief contributes to this debate by presenting child-relevant distributional measures that reflect inequality of outcomes as well as opportunity for children in society, over time.
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INNOCENTI RESEARCH BRIEFS BY DATE

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Using longitudinal data from the Young Lives study, this Brief summarizes research examining whether corporal punishment in schools is associated with lasting effects on children’s cognitive development. The findings conclude that corporal punishment not only violates children’s fundamental rights to dignity and bodily integrity but also undermines their capacity to learn, with lasting implications for their life chances.

AUTHOR(S)

Hayley Jones; Kirrily Pells
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Approximately half of all mental health disorders begin by age 14, and three-quarters by age 24. Among adolescents, depression is one of the leading contributors to morbidity, while suicide and interpersonal violence are among the leading causes of mortality.

AUTHOR(S)

Audrey Pereira
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Vulnerable populations in sub-Saharan African countries often face high levels of food insecurity which disproportionately affect households living in poverty and children are particularly at risk. This review of eight social cash transfer programme evaluations has shown that cash transfers have an impact on several different dimensions of food security.

AUTHOR(S)

Lisa Hjelm
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A common perception surrounding the design and implementation of social cash transfers is that those targeted to families with young children will incentivize families to have more children. To date, however, research on unconditional cash transfer programmes in Africa (including Kenya, Malawi, South Africa and Zambia) have demonstrated no impacts of cash transfer programmes on increased fertility.

AUTHOR(S)

Tia Palermo; Lisa Hjelm
LANGUAGES:
This is the first study from sub-Saharan Africa examining the relation between cash transfers and fertility using a large-sample social experiment design and reporting fertility histories of individual women. The findings are important because they provide strong evidence that a social protection programme targeted to families with young children does not create the unintended effect of increased fertility.

AUTHOR(S)

Lisa Hjelm; Tia Palermo
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Unlike conditional cash transfers, unconditional transfers have the potential to impact all beneficiary household members across a range of productive and social domains. After two years, research shows that the Zambian Child Grant Programme has led to strong positive impacts in investment and diversification of income-generating activities, food security, and asset accumulation.

AUTHOR(S)

Audrey Pereira
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This Brief summarizes findings from the impact evaluation of the Ghana Livelihood Empowerment Against Poverty (LEAP) programme on schooling outcomes overall and for various subgroups: by sex, age group and cognitive ability.The findings underscore the importance of going beyond average treatment effects to analyse impacts by subgroup in order to unpack the programme effect

AUTHOR(S)

Richard de Groot
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According to the 2008-2009 Kenyan Demographic and Health Survey, almost a third of the women of reproductive age were married before they reached their 18th birthday, and more than 75 per cent had their first child by age 24. The role of poverty in influencing adolescent fertility has been well documented and social cash transfers (SCTs) have been recommended as a successful reduction strategy. This Research Brief examines a study comparing two groups who had and had not received unconditional cash transfers. The authors identify four factors through which such cash amounts affect adolescent well-being: increased investment in girls’ education; delay in girls’ sexual debut; improved mental health and increased aspirations for girls; and increased household economic stability.

Over the past decade, more than a dozen government-run cash transfer programmes have been launched in sub-Saharan Africa as part of national social protection strategies. Recently there has been increased interest in examining whether such programmes reduce interpersonal violence, including between partners and against children. In this Research Brief we discuss different approaches that have been implemented in evaluations supported by the Transfer Project.

AUTHOR(S)

Tia Palermo
LANGUAGES:
Longitudinal research can help countries meet the challenges of sustainable development. The examples presented in this Brief serve to demonstrate the unique advantages of having access to longitudinal studies to complement cross-sectional surveys and administrative series.The Brief reviews data from the Young Lives cohorts, reflecting on evidence from the 2000-2015 Millennium Development period.

AUTHOR(S)

Paul Dornan; Caroline Knowles; Prerna Banati
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