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Innocenti Working Papers

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UNICEF Innocenti's complete catalogue of research and reports

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How Effective are Cash Transfers in Mitigating Shocks for Vulnerable Children? Evidence on the impact of the Lesotho Child Grant Programme on multidimensional deprivation
How Effective are Cash Transfers in Mitigating Shocks for Vulnerable Children? Evidence on the impact of the Lesotho Child Grant Programme on multidimensional deprivation
Published: 2020 Innocenti Working Papers
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.
COVID-19: A reason to double down on investments in pre-primary education
COVID-19: A reason to double down on investments in pre-primary education
Published: 2020 Innocenti Working Papers
This paper summarizes the recent UNICEF analysis on investing in early childhood education in developing countries. It provides a benefit-cost analysis of investments in pre-primary education in 109 developing low- and middle-income countries and territories, using data from 2008 to 2019.
COVID-19: Effects of school closures on foundational skills and promising practices for monitoring and mitigating learning loss
COVID-19: Effects of school closures on foundational skills and promising practices for monitoring and mitigating learning loss
Published: 2020 Innocenti Working Papers

While remote learning measures are essential for mitigating the short-term and long-term consequences of COVID-19 school closures, little is known about their impact on and effectiveness for learning.

This working paper contributes to filling this gap by: 1. Exploring how disrupted schooling may affect foundational learning skills, using data from MICS6 (Multiple Indicator Cluster Surveys - round 6) in 2017–2019; 2. Examining how countries are delivering and monitoring remote learning based on data from the UNESCO-UNICEF-World Bank’s National Education Responses to COVID-19 School Closures survey; and 3. Presenting promising key practices for the effective delivery and monitoring of remote learning.

Gender-Responsive Age-Sensitive Social Protection: A conceptual framework
Gender-Responsive Age-Sensitive Social Protection: A conceptual framework
Published: 2020 Innocenti Working Papers

There is significant potential for social protection systems (including policies, programmes and institutions) to promote gender equality and transformative change as a core pre-condition for long-term and sustainable poverty reduction. There is also the potential of poverty reduction to promote long-term and sustained gender equality and transformative change. Recognising this, the Gender-Responsive Age-Sensitive Social Protection (GRASSP) research programme, led by UNICEF Office of Research – Innocenti (hereafter UNICEF Innocenti) seeks to strengthen the gender-responsiveness of social protection systems in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs), and support shifts long-term towards gender-transformational social protection work, by building a robust evidence base focused on ‘what works’, ‘how’ and ‘why’ to contribute to enhanced gender equality outcomes across the life course.

This working paper provides a concise narrative behind the graphic representation of the GRASSP conceptual framework. The framework delineates the conceptual linkages between gender (including gender risks, vulnerabilities, discrimination and inequalities, multidimensional deprivations affecting women and girls), and social protection. It proposes a systematic, holistic and integrated approach for conceptualising the intersections between gender and social protection, to achieve SDG1 (‘end poverty in all its forms everywhere’) and SDG5 (‘achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls’)1 through careful planning, design, implementation and evaluation of a gender-responsive social protection system.

The GRASSP conceptual framework builds on and expands existing conceptual and theoretical efforts focused on integrating a gender lens into public policy (see for instance Holmes and Jones 2013, GAGE Consortium 2017). Building on these earlier efforts, the GRASSP conceptual framework brings together several integrated aspects related to gender, social protection, and the life course.

Impacts of Pandemics and Epidemics on Child Protection: Lessons learned from a rapid review in the context of COVID-19
Impacts of Pandemics and Epidemics on Child Protection: Lessons learned from a rapid review in the context of COVID-19
Published: 2020 Innocenti Working Papers

 

This rapid review collates and synthesizes evidence on the child protection impacts of COVID-19 and previous pandemics, epidemics and infectious disease outbreaks. It provides lessons for global and national responses to COVID19 and recommendations for future research priorities.

The evidence on the impacts of pandemics and epidemics on child protection outcomes is limited and skewed towards studies on the effects of HIV/AIDS on stigma. There is also some evidence on the effects of Ebola on outcomes such as orphanhood, sexual violence and exploitation, and  school enrolment, attendance and dropout. The evidence on other pandemics or epidemics, including COVID-19, is extremely limited.

There are various pathways through which infectious disease outbreaks can exacerbate vulnerabilities, generate new risks and result in negative outcomes for children. Outcomes are typically multi-layered, with immediate outcomes for children, families and communities - such as being orphaned, stigmatization and discrimination and reductions in household income - leading to further negative risks and outcomes for children in the intermediate term. These risks include child labour and domestic work, harmful practices (including early marriage), and early and adolescent pregnancy.

Lessons from previous pandemics and epidemics suggest that the following could mitigate the child protection risks:

  • Responding to children in vulnerable circumstances, including orphans (e.g. throughpsychosocial interventions focused on improving mental health and community-based interventions that provide families with resources and access to services)
  • Responding to stigmatization and discrimination (e.g. throughinformation and communication campaigns and support from public health systems, communities and schools)
  • Investing in social protectionenable livelihoods during outbreaks and to counteract shocks
  • Promoting access to health, protective and justice services, which may be restricted or suspending during infectious disease outbreaks
  • Ensuring continued access to education, particularly for girls, who may be adversely affected

There is a high burden of proof for data collection during the current COVID-19 outbreak than there would be in normal circumstances. Evidence generation strategies during and after the COVID-19 crisis should consider rigorous retrospective reviews and building upon monitoring, evidence and learning functions of pre-existing programmes – particularly where there is ongoing longitudinal data collection. There should also be efforts to synthesize evidence from existing research on the effectiveness of interventions that respond to the key risk pathways identified in this review.

 

 

 

Exploring Critical Issues in the Ethical Involvement of Children with Disabilities in Evidence Generation and Use
Exploring Critical Issues in the Ethical Involvement of Children with Disabilities in Evidence Generation and Use
Published: 2020 Innocenti Working Papers

This paper provides an overview of the key issues drawn from the literature reviewed and suggests established and potential mitigation strategies that could improve ethical practices when involving children with disabilities in evidence generation activities (for a summary, see Appendix 1). More evidence generation activities with this group of children are urgently needed, and it is important that conventional and existing ethical practices used with children are further developed to embrace disability inclusion. This will encourage the realization of children’s right to participate and be heard, and ensure that policy and practice are informed by the perspectives and concerns of children with disabilities. Importantly, this approach can support a wider agenda for the greater inclusion in society of children with disabilities.

Study Protocol: Impacts of Pandemics and Epidemics on Child Protection Lessons learned from a rapid review in the context of COVID-19
Study Protocol: Impacts of Pandemics and Epidemics on Child Protection Lessons learned from a rapid review in the context of COVID-19
Published: 2020 Innocenti Working Papers

 

This protocol details the aims, scope and methodology used for the rapid review titled: “Impacts of Pandemics and Epidemics on Child Protection: Lessons learned from a rapid review in the context of COVID-19."

 

Cite this publication | No. of pages: 18 | Thematic area: Child Protection | Tags: COVID-19
Cash Transfers, Public Works and Child Activities: Mixed Methods Evidence from the United Republic of Tanzania
Cash Transfers, Public Works and Child Activities: Mixed Methods Evidence from the United Republic of Tanzania
Published: 2020 Innocenti Working Papers
This paper examines the impact of the United Republic of Tanzania’s Productive Social Safety Net (PSSN) on child work and education. Targeting extremely poor households, the programme provides cash transfers that are partly conditional on the use of health and education services, along with a public works component. We relied on a cluster-randomized evaluation design, assigning villages to one of three study arms: cash transfers only; cash transfers combined with public works (i.e., the joint programme); and control. We complemented the quantitative analysis with findings from in-depth interviews and focus group discussions with children and caregivers, involving a subsample of participants from all three study arms. Due to household investment of PSSN benefits in livestock, the programme caused a shift from work for pay outside the household to work within the household,
mostly in livestock herding. The programme improved child education outcomes. These findings were echoed in the qualitative data – participants referred to working on family farms as being both safer for children and more beneficial for the family. Participants further discussed the importance of PSSN funds in paying for schooling costs. Impacts were generally no different for communities that received cash only and communities that received both cash and public works components. School dropout, however, decreased in villages where the joint programme was implemented but remained unchanged in villages receiving cash only.
Digital Contact Tracing and Surveillance During COVID-19. General and child-specific ethical issues
Digital Contact Tracing and Surveillance During COVID-19. General and child-specific ethical issues
Published: 2020 Innocenti Working Papers

Balancing the need to collect data to support good decision-making versus the need to protect children from harm created through the collection of the data has never been more challenging than in the context of the global COVID-19 pandemic. The response to the pandemic has seen an unprecedented rapid scaling up of technologies to support digital contact tracing and surveillance. As the pandemic progresses, we are also likely to see the emergence of more applications that link datasets as we seek to better understand the secondary impacts of the pandemic on children and their families.

This working paper explores the implications for privacy as the linking of datasets increases the likelihood that children will be identifiable and consequently, the opportunities for (sensitive) data profiling. It also frequently involves making data available to a broader set of users or data managers.

While it is recognized that reuse of unidentifiable data could potentially serve future public health responses and research, the nature of, access to and use of the data now and in future necessitate accountability, transparency and clear governance processes. It requires that these be in place from the outset. These are needed to ensure that data privacy is protected to the greatest degree possible and that the limitations to the use of these data are clearly articulated.

A Rapid Review of Economic Policy and Social Protection Responses to Health and Economic Crises and Their Effects on Children: Lessons for the COVID-19 pandemic response
A Rapid Review of Economic Policy and Social Protection Responses to Health and Economic Crises and Their Effects on Children: Lessons for the COVID-19 pandemic response
Published: 2020 Innocenti Working Papers

This rapid review seeks to inform the initial and long-term public policy responses to the COVID-19 pandemic, by assessing evidence on past economic policy and social protection responses to health and economic crises and their effects on children and families. The review focuses on virus outbreaks/emergencies, economic crises and natural disasters, which, like the COVID-19 pandemic, were 'rapid' in onset, had wide-ranging geographical reach, and resulted in disruption of social services and economic sectors, without affecting governance systems. Evidence is also drawn from the HIV/AIDS pandemic, due to its impacts on adult mortality rates and surviving children.

The available evidence on the effects of economic policy and social protection responses is uneven across outcomes, regions, and type of policy response as a large body of literature focused on social assistance programmes. Future research on the COVID-19 pandemic can prioritize the voices of children and the marginalized, assess the effects of expansionary and austerity measures,  examine the role of design and implementation, social care services, pre-existing macro-level health, demographic and health conditions and the diverse regional health and economic impacts of the pandemic. The paper also provides key lessons for public policy responses to the COVID-19 pandemic.

 

Multidimensional child poverty measurement in Sierra Leone and Lao PDR: Contrasting individual- and household-based approaches
Multidimensional child poverty measurement in Sierra Leone and Lao PDR: Contrasting individual- and household-based approaches
Published: 2019 Innocenti Working Papers
This research brief compares the properties of individual- and household-based multidimensional child poverty approaches. Specifically, it contrasts UNICEF’s Multiple Overlapping Deprivation Analysis (MODA) with the Global Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI) developed by the Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative. MODA focuses on children and is rooted in the child rights approach, while MPI has been developed for households and follows Sen’s (1985) capabilities approach. We demonstrate their similarities and differences using two recent Multiple Indicator Cluster Surveys: Sierra Leone and Lao People’s Democratic Republic (PDR). The analysis suggests that MODA tends to produce higher multidimensional child poverty headcount rates than MPI, both because of the differences in the survey items used to construct the indicators of deprivation and because of how the indicators are aggregated and weighted.
Cite this publication | No. of pages: 21 | Thematic area: Child Poverty | Tags: child poverty, households, measurement, SDGs
Cash Transfers and Child Nutrition in Zambia
Cash Transfers and Child Nutrition in Zambia
Published: 2019 Innocenti Working Papers
We examine the effect of the Zambia Child Grant Programme – an unconditional cash transfer (CT) targeted to rural families with children under age five – on height-for-age four years after programme initiation. The CT scheme had large positive effects on several nutritional inputs including food expenditure and meal frequency. However, there was no effect on height-for-age. Production function estimates indicate that food carries little weight in the production of child height. Health knowledge of mothers and health infrastructure in the study sites are also very poor. These factors plus the harsh disease environment are too onerous to be overcome by the increases in food intake generated by the CT. In such settings, a stand-alone CT, even when it has large positive effects on food security, is unlikely to have an impact on long-term chronic malnutrition unless accompanied by complementary interventions.
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