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Innocenti Working Papers
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.
COVID-19: A reason to double down on investments in pre-primary education
Muroga, Atsuko; Zaw, Htet Thiha; Mizunoya, Suguru; Lin, Hsiao-Chen; Brossard, Mathieu; Reuge, Nicolas (2020). COVID-19: A reason to double down on investments in pre-primary education, no. 11, UNICEF Office of Research - Innocenti, Florence
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.
Social protection in Ethiopia is primarily allocated through community-based targeting. The few studies that have analysed the efficacy of aid targeting in Ethiopia have revealed targeting biases in regard to demography, geography and political affiliations. With the introduction in Ethiopia in 2005 of the Productive Safety Net Programme (PSNP), a major social protection programme, various administrative guidelines were introduced (and subsequently periodically revised) with the aim of improving targeting. This paper uses data from the last two rounds of the Ethiopian Rural Household Survey to investigate whether PSNP implementation resulted in changes in both targeting determinants and amount received for public works (a component of PSNP) and emergency aid between 2004 and 2009 in 11 rural villages. In general, public works appear to have been allocated on the basis of observable poverty-related characteristics, and emergency aid according to household demographics. In addition, the results suggest that, for both public works and emergency aid beneficiaries, political connections were significant in determining the receipt of aid in 2004 but that this was no longer the case by 2009, indicating an improvement in the channeling of social protection to its intended target groups. However, a household’s experience of recent shocks was found to bear no relationship to receipt of support, which suggests that a more flexible and shock-responsive implementation could improve targeting for transitory needs.
Chronic undernutrition is characterized by long-term exposure to food of insufficient quality and inadequate quantity, including restricted intake of energy, protein, fat, micronutrients, essential amino acids, vitamins and minerals. Physiologically, in a state of chronic food insufficiency, the human body conserves energy by prioritizing essential metabolic processes resulting in impaired linear growth and delayed reproductive maturation. Consequently, height can theoretically be considered a measure of an individual’s cumulative health and nutrition. Therefore, a deviation from the ‘normal’ height relative to one’s age represents a deviation from one’s optimal growth and, potentially, the presence of other issues. Similarly, the delayed onset of puberty is another common physiological response to food insufficiency, often accompanying impaired linear growth. Chronic undernutrition can arise from chronic disease, congenital abnormalities and insufficient food intake. In this review, we will explore the hypothesis of CUG during adolescence, given the relationship between impaired linear growth and the delayed onset of puberty in children suffering from chronic undernutrition due to a lack of sufficient quality and quantity of food.
Susan Campisi; Bianca Carducci; Olle Söder; Zulfiqar Bhutta
The rate of bullying among children is a key indicator of children’s well-being and an important marker for comparing global social development: both victims and perpetrators of bullying in childhood suffer across various dimensions, including personal social development, education, and health, with negative effects persisting into adulthood. For policymakers and professionals working with children, high rates of bullying amongst children should raise warning flags regarding child rights’ failings. Moreover, bullying amongst school-aged children highlights existing inefficiencies in the social system, and the potential for incurring future social costs in the communities and schools in which children live their lives. Inevitably, these concerns have contributed to bullying becoming a globally recognized challenge – every region in the world collects information on children’s experiences of bullying. Yet, despite the identification and monitoring of bullying having global appeal, so far, a validated global measure has not been produced. To fill this gap in knowledge, this paper develops a global indicator on bullying amongst children using existing school-based surveys from around the world. The findings of this paper show that bullying is a complex phenomenon that takes multiple forms, and is experienced to widely varying degrees across the world.
A recent strand of aid programming aims to develop household assets by removing the stresses associated with meeting basic nutritional needs. In this paper, we posit that such programmes can also boost nutrition in recipient households by encouraging further investment in diet. To test this hypothesis, we study the World Food Programme’s “Protracted Relief and Recovery Operation (PRRO)” in Niger, a conflict-affected, low income country with a high share of malnourishment. Under PRRO, a household could be in one of three groups at endline: receiving food aid to prevent malnutrition, receiving both preventive food aid and food for assets assistance, or receiving no assistance (the control group). When provided only by itself, the food aid has no nutritional impact, relative to receiving no assistance. However, we observe pronounced positive effects when preventive food aid is paired with assets-based programming, over and above what stems from greater household assets. We conclude, first, that certain forms of food aid function well in complex, insecure environments; second, that assets-based programmes deliver positive nutritional spillovers; and, third, that there are theoretical grounds to believe that asset-based programmes interact positively with more nutrition-focussed programming.
Tilman Brück; O.M. Dias Botia; N. T. N. Ferguson; J. Ouédraogo; Z. Ziegelhoefer
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.