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Zara Rahman; Julia Keseru
Does governments’ social spending reduce infant mortality? If so, what are the causal mechanisms behind this effect? Using evidence from 19 countries in Latin America and the Caribbean (1990 to 2017), this paper examines various influences – including decreased income inequality and dependence on natural resources – to determine if and how increased public expenditure in the social sector is causally linked with reduced infant mortality.
Chuka Emezue; Cristina Pozneanscaia; Greg Sheaf; Valeria Groppo; Shivit Bakrania; Josiah Kaplan
There is increasing evidence on the importance of education access and quality for the abolition of child labour. However, to date, only a few evidence assessments have documented the effectiveness of educational policies and programmes with respect to child labour. This Rapid Evidence Assessment (REA) aims to fill this gap by providing a comprehensive review of the effects of educational policies and programmes on child labour. With the objective to provide policy and programmatic recommendations, the review will focus on quantitative and mixed methods studies that identify causal effects. The REA will be complemented by an evidence gap map.
Cristina Cirillo; Tia Palermo; Francesca Viola
Adolescents face unique vulnerabilities related to their health, schooling and the intensification of gender socialization. As the next generation next in line to become adults, their transition has major implications for the future health, economic growth and well-being of nations. Yet, children and adolescents have low rates of social protection coverage globally – a missed opportunity for investment.
This report examines how social protection can promote adolescent well-being and facilitate safe and productive transitions to adulthood in lower- and middle-income countries. Focusing on government, non-contributory programmes, the following questions are examined: 1) whether and how current non-contributory social protection programmes are adolescent-sensitive and 2) what is the impact of non-contributory social protection programmes on adolescents.
Manahil Siddiqi; Ramya Subrahmanian
There is no question that the COVID-19 pandemic is disrupting the lives and rights of children. Early on, the pandemic rapidly sparked research on child protection across the globe. In the barrage of information on COVID-19, evidence is key to understanding children’s situations and to developing the best solutions.
This review takes stock of UNICEF’s rapidly evolving evidence base on COVID-19 and child protection and describes what has been learned so far from this evidence base on the impacts of COVID-19 on child protection and the response measures put in place since the pandemic.
Jennifer Waidler; Bindu Sunny; Gwyther Rees
Bringing up children requires care, time and resources. Yet, too often, all over the world, parents and other primary caregivers are left to struggle with this fundamental task without enough support. The burden of responsibility tends to fall disproportionately on women. Often parents have to make impossible choices between earning enough money for their family and giving children the care that they need.
The concept of ‘family-friendly policies’ has emerged as a way of thinking about and addressing these issues. There is no agreed definition of the concept, but it is generally conceived as a set of policies that help parents/caregivers to reconcile various aspects of work and family life. Such policies may differ from one region and location to another depending on, amongst other things: demographics, including the definition of what a family is, and its function; the characteristics of the labour market and the workplace; the social and cultural context, including attitudes, expectations and norms; and the economic context.
This paper addresses the issue of what family-friendly policies could look like in the South Asian context, where female labor force participation is very low and more than 90 per cent of workers are in the informal sector or under informal employment. It considers how these policies can be responsive to the particular characteristics and circumstances of countries in the region – including multi-generation families, family units built around adolescent mothers (and sometimes fathers), and migration for work both within and outside countries. It also tackles the question of how family-friendly policies might need to evolve in the face of the COVID-19 crisis.
By taking an equity approach to family friendly policies, we provide recommendations on how to reach families in different situations and facing different degrees of vulnerabilities, including those not working or working under very difficult circumstances.
While there has been a global rush to generate rapid evidence on COVID-19 mental health impacts among adults, limited evidence exists on the potential impacts on children.
This is the protocol for our rapid review that seeks to (i) understand the immediate impact of COVID-19’s first wave on the mental health of children and adolescents (0–19 years); and (ii) apply lessons learned from this pandemic to mitigate the impacts of future health crises.
The key research questions of this review are:
Elena Bárcena-Martín; M. Carmen Blanco-Arana; Salvador Pérez-Moreno
This paper examines how social benefits contributed to reducing the scarring effects of monetary poverty among children in European countries in the years following the Great Recession. Based on the European Union Statistics on Income and Living Conditions database, our findings highlight that social benefit functions differ in their ability to reduce the risk of monetary poverty for children with previous experience in poverty. While family/children’s benefits are crucial in reducing child poverty in general, they are not significant in terms of reducing the scarring effects of child poverty. Old age/ survivors’ benefits meanwhile appear to be a significant support for children with prior experience in poverty. Empirical evidence thus suggests the effectiveness of social transfers to combat occasional child poverty does not always coincide with their effectiveness in preventing children from remaining in poverty year after year.
Cirenia Chávez; Marcela Aguilar
In recent decades, violence in and around schools has become a serious concern in Latin America and the Caribbean. This is not a new or isolated phenomenon, nor is it limited to certain schools or countries.
While much of the literature connecting violence and schools has focused on bullying, it has overlooked how violence in other environments, in families and in communities, affects children’s education and their learning outcomes.
Latin America and the Caribbean is home to 9 out of the 10 countries with the highest rates of violence in the world. Yet, the prevalence of bullying in schools is one of the lowest in comparison to other regions, suggesting that this is not the most concerning form of violence impacting children’s educational experiences.
This literature review summarizes existing evidence on the impacts of community violence on academic achievement as well as on other educational outcomes – including dropping out, absenteeism, truancy, enrolment and attendance – and highlights policy and research implications.
Artur Borkowski; Javier Santiago Ortiz Correa; Donald A. P. Bundy; Carmen Burbano; Chika Hayashi; Edward Lloyd-Evans; Jutta Neitzel; Nicolas Reuge
In 2019, 135 million people in 55 countries were in food crises or worse, and 2 billion people did not have regular access to safe, nutritious and sufficient food. COVID-19 has exacerbated these hardships and may result in an additional 121 million people facing acute food insecurity by the end of 2020. Further, since the beginning of the pandemic, an estimated 1.6 billion learners in 199 countries worldwide were affected by school closures, with nearly 370 million children not receiving a school meal in 150 countries.
The paper presents the evidence on the potential negative short-term and long-term effects of school meal scheme disruption during Covid-19 globally. It shows how vulnerable the children participating in these schemes are, how coping and mitigation measures are often only short-term solutions, and how prioritizing school re-opening is critical. For instance, it highlights how girls are at greater risk of not being in school or of being taken out of school early, which may lead to poor nutrition and health for themselves and their children. However, well-designed school feeding programmes have been shown to enable catch-up from early growth failure and other negative shocks. As such, once schools re-open, school meal schemes can help address the deprivation that children have experienced during the closures and provide an incentive for parents to send and keep their children, especially girls, in school.
Cirenia Chávez; Victor Cebotari; Maria José Benítez; Dominic Richardson; Chii Fen Hiu; Juliana Zapata
The prevalence of school-related violence and, in particular, bullying is not a new or isolated phenomenon, nor is it limited to certain schools or countries. Abundant evidence indicates that bullying is widespread and has a negative impact on educational outcomes. Children who are victims of bullying can also be affected emotionally and physically in both the short and long terms. Evidence from low- and middle-income countries on bullying is less extensive when compared to the evidence available on predictors and effects of bullying from high-income countries. However, some findings for the Latin American and Caribbean region seem to suggest a similar picture, with a high prevalence of bullying victimization and association to lower reading scores in different subjects tested.
This working paper first uses data from UNESCO’s Third Regional Comparative and Explanatory Study for nationally representative samples of sixth grade students to determine the prevalence of bullying and its association to learning outcomes in 15 countries of the LAC region. It then looks at interventions to mitigate the impacts of violence.
Priscilla Idele; David Anthony; Lynne M Mofenson; Jennifer Requejo; Danzhen You; Chewe Luo; Stefan Peterson
The initial impression that paediatric SARS-CoV-2 infection is uncommon and generally mild has been replaced by a more nuanced understanding of infectious manifestations in children and adolescents across low-, middle-, and high-income countries, with recognition of a widening disease spectrum. Critical knowledge gaps, especially in low- and middle-income countries, remain that have significant public policy and programme implications. Insufficient data disaggregated by age, geography and race/ethnicity continue to hinder efforts to fully assess prevalence of infection and disease manifestations in children and adolescents and their role in transmission. Potential biologic differences in susceptibility to infection and transmissibility between children, adolescents and adults need to be assessed. Determination of mother-to-child SARS-CoV-2 transmission during pregnancy, the peripartum period, or through breastfeeding requires appropriate samples obtained with proper timing, lacking in most studies. Finally, predictors of disease progression, morbidity and mortality in children need to be determined and whether these predictors vary by geographic location and in settings where poor nutritional and health conditions and other vulnerabilities are more frequent. Countries, UN agencies, public health communities, donors and academia need to coordinate the efforts and work collectively to close the data and knowledge gaps in all countries (high-, middle- and low-income) for better evidence to guide policy and programme decision-making for children and COVID-19 disease.