The Working Papers are the foundation of the Centre's research output, underpinning many of the Centre's other publications. These high quality research papers are aimed at an academic and well-informed audience, contributing to ongoing discussion on a wide range of child-related issues. More than 100 Working Papers have been published to date, with recent and forthcoming papers covering the full range of the Centre's agenda. The Working Papers series incorporates the earlier series of Innocenti Occasional Papers (with sub-series), also available for download.
Transformative Change for Children and Youth in the Context of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development
Hujo, Katia; Carter, Maggie (2019). Transformative Change for Children and Youth in the Context of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, no. 2019-02, UNICEF Office of Research - Innocenti, Florence
The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development is a new opportunity to address the key development challenges of our time with the aim to improve the well-being and rights of all people while protecting
the natural environment. Children are important agents and beneficiaries in this process: many children are not only among the most vulnerable groups affected by poverty, inequality, conflict and climate change, they are also the generation that will reach adulthood during the realization of the 2030 Agenda. To create the sustainable, long-term transformation ambitiously laid out in Agenda
2030, new transformative approaches to policy must be implemented and applied to children and youth—approaches that target the underlying generative framework of social injustice as opposed to
implementing affirmative remedies that simply seek to alleviate the symptoms. The objective of this paper is to develop a conceptual framework to help assess the transformative potential of policies – particularly with regard to their impact on children and youth – and how these are meaningfully integrated and represented in decision-making processes. It will shed light on the policy space for transformative change by analysing a range of relevant factors which present both challenges and opportunities for fostering child rights and well-being through the implementation of Agenda 2030. The paper then applies the framework to a selection of policy areas that are of high relevance for child development, such as social policy and care policy assessing necessary means of implementation such as resource mobilization and governance systems and looking at economic and environmental impacts in a cross-cutting way. The aim is to stretch boundaries and invite new thinking on how to grasp the numerous opportunities offered by the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to approach development challenges holistically and from a child-centred perspective. This involves integrating economic, social and environmental dimensions of development and fostering cross-sectoral approaches.
The productive impacts of transfer programmes have received increased attention. However, little is known about such effects in emergency and crisis settings. Even less is known about whether transfer type – a food basket or a cash grant – influences the productive potential of such transfers. Theory suggests that, while cash transfers can relieve liquidity constraints associated with investments, subsidized food provision, by acting as a form of insurance, may prevent households from retreating to conservative income-generating strategies during volatile periods. Using a randomized field experiment in Yemen, we contrast the effects of transfer modality. The results demonstrate a modest productive impact of both modalities and suggest a role for both liquidity and price risk channels. Cash transfer recipients invested relatively more in activities with higher liquidity requirements (livestock), while food recipients incorporated higher-return crops into their agricultural portfolios.
There is increasing interest in understanding if social protection has the ability to foster social cohesion, particularly between refugees and host communities. Using an experimental evaluation of transfers, including cash, food and food vouchers to Colombian refugees and poor Ecuadorians in urban and peri-urban areas we examine if transfers resulted in changes in social cohesion measures. The evaluation was a cluster-randomized control trial examining a short-term programme implemented over six months by the World Food Programme. We examine six aggregate dimensions of social cohesion, derived from 33 individual indicators, in addition to an overall index of social cohesion. Overall results suggest that the programme contributed to integration of Colombians in the hosting community through increases in personal agency, attitudes accepting diversity, confidence in institutions, and social participation. However, while having no impact for the Ecuadorian population. There were no negative impacts of the programme on indicators or domains analysed. Although we are not able to specifically identify mechanisms, we hypothesize that these impacts are driven by joint targeting, messaging around social inclusion and through interaction between nationalities at mandated monthly nutrition trainings.
Iraq’s public distribution system (PDS) is the only universal non-contributory social transfer system in the world. Through three decades of conflict and fragility, food rations delivered through the PDS have remained the single largest safety net among Iraq’s population. Reforming the PDS continues to be politically challenging, notwithstanding its heavy dependence on imports and associated economic distortions as well as an unsustainable fiscal burden. The fiscal crisis since mid-2014 has, however, put PDS reform back on the agenda. In this context, this paper employs a mixed demand approach to analyse consumption patterns in Iraqi households and quantify the welfare impact of a potential reform of the PDS in urban areas. The results of the ex ante simulations show that household consumption of PDS items is relatively inelastic to changes in price, particularly among the poorest quintiles, and that these goods are normal goods. Cross-sectional comparisons suggest that, with improvements in welfare, and with well-functioning markets, some segments of the population are substituting away from the PDS and increasing their consumption of market substitutes. Overall, the results suggest that any one-shot reform will have adverse and sizeable welfare impacts. The removal of all subsidies in urban areas will require compensating poor households by 74 per cent of their expenditures and the richest households by nearly 40 per cent to keep welfare constant. However, a targeted removal of the top 4 deciles from PDS eligibility in urban areas will leave poverty rates unaffected and generate cost savings, but will need to be carefully communicated and managed to counter public discontent.
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.
This paper documents the impact of a cash transfer programme – an initiative of the Government of Lebanon, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the World Food Programme (WFP), widely known as the No Lost Generation Programme (NLG) and, locally, as Min Ila (‘from to’) – on the school participation of displaced Syrian children in Lebanon. The programme provides cash to children who are enrolled in the afternoon shift of a public primary school. It was designed to cover the cost of commuting to school and to compensate households for income forgone if children attend school instead of working, two critical barriers to child school participation. We rely on a geographical regression discontinuity design comparing children living in two pilot governorates with children in two neighbouring governorates to identify the impact of the programme halfway in the first year of operation (the 2016/17 school year). We find limited programme effects on school enrolment, but substantive impacts on school attendance among enrolled children, which increased by 0.5 days to 0.7 days per week, an improvement of about 20 per cent over the control group. School enrolment among Syrian children rose rapidly across all of Lebanon’s governorates during the period of the evaluation, resulting in supply side capacity constraints that appear to have dampened positive impacts on enrolment.
We rely on a unique precrisis baseline and five-year follow-up to investigate the effects of emergency school feeding and general food distribution (GFD) on children’s schooling during conflict in Mali. We estimate programme impact on child enrolment, absenteeism and attainment by combining difference in differences with propensity score matching. School feeding led to increases in enrolment by 11 percentage points and to about an additional half-year of completed schooling. Attendance among boys residing in households receiving GFD, however, declined by about 20 per cent over the comparison group. Disaggregating by conflict intensity showed that receipt of any programme led to rises in enrolment mostly in high-intensity conflict areas and that the negative effects of GFD on attendance were also concentrated in the most affected areas. Conversely, school feeding mostly raised attainment among children residing in areas not in the immediate vicinity of the conflict. Programme receipt triggered adjustments in child labour. Thus, school feeding led to lower participation and time spent in work among girls, while GFD raised children’s labour, particularly among boys. The educational implications of food assistance should be considered in planning humanitarian responses to bridge the gap between emergency assistance and development by promoting children’s education.
Fiscal incidence analysis is the most widely used methodology to assess the distributional effects of fiscal policies. However, for 40 years, it has lacked a child lens. A child focus on the redistributive capacity of fiscal policy is increasingly important due to the disproportionate incidence of poverty among children globally. This paper provides a child-dedicated focus on fiscal incidence analysis by tracking child-relevant benefits, turning children the unit of analysis, and using multidimensional child poverty metrics. The analysis—Commitment to Equity for Children, or CEQ4C—integrates three analytical frameworks, namely, public finance, fiscal incidence analysis, and multidimensional child poverty analysis. The paper develops a proof of concept for Uganda that includes measurement, diagnostics, and a policy simulation package replicable across diverse contexts. The proof of concept confirms that CEQ4C provides a higher-resolution fiscal incidence analysis for children than the traditional fiscal incidence analysis.
A pre-post study examining the effectiveness of a parenting support programme in the Eastern Cape, South Africa, showed reductions in child abuse, child delinquency, parent and child depression, parenting stress and substance use. It also showed improvements in parental supervision, positive parenting and social support. In addition to the pre-post study, a qualitative enquiry was conducted with the programme facilitators. This paper explores the experiences and perception of local child and youth care workers, who were trained to deliver the parenting programme in vulnerable, semi-rural communities. The purpose of this publication is to make recommendations on how to improve the programme for scale-up, in South Africa and beyond.
This paper develops an econometric strategy to operationalize the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF’s) conceptual framework for nutrition, estimating the effects on child stunting that additional investments in water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) intervention packages have across population groups (poor and non-poor) and residence (urban and rural). Moving away from estimating single intervention marginal returns, the empirical framework is tested in Tunisia; a country with notable but uneven progress in child nutrition. A successful reduction of stunting will involve mapping the distinctive most effective intervention packages by residence and socioeconomic status, moving away from universal policies.