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Innocenti Working Papers

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UNICEF Innocenti's complete catalogue of research and reports

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Towards Inclusive Education: The impact of disability on school attendance in developing countries
Towards Inclusive Education: The impact of disability on school attendance in developing countries
Published: 2016 Innocenti Working Papers
The paper aims to reduce the global knowledge gap pertaining to the impact of disability on school attendance, using cross-nationally comparable and nationally representative data from 18 surveys in 15 countries that are selected among 2,500 surveys and censuses. These selected surveys administered the Washington Group Short Set (WGSS) of disability-screening questions, covering five functional domains of seeing, hearing, mobility, self-care, and remembering, and collected information on educational status. The paper finds that (i) the average disability gap in school attendance stands at 30% in primary and secondary schools in 15 countries; (ii) more than 85% of disabled primary-age children who are out of school have never attended school; (iii) the average marginal effect of disability on primary and secondary school attendance is negative and significant (-30%), and (iv) countries that have reached close to universal primary education report high ratios of disabled to non-disabled out-of-school children and (v) disabled children confront the same difficulties in participating in education, regardless of their individual and socio-economic characteristics.
Cash for Women’s Empowerment? A Mixed-Methods Evaluation of the Government of Zambia’s Child Grant Programme
Cash for Women’s Empowerment? A Mixed-Methods Evaluation of the Government of Zambia’s Child Grant Programme
Published: 2016 Innocenti Working Papers

This paper reports findings from a mixed-methods evaluation of the Government of Zambia’s Child Grant Programme, a poverty-targeted, unconditional transfer given to mothers or primary caregivers of young children aged 0 to 5. Qualitatively, we found that changes in intrahousehold relationships were limited by entrenched gender norms, which indicate men as heads of household and primary decision-makers. However, women’s narratives showed the transfer did increase overall household well-being because they felt increased financial empowerment and were able to retain control over transfers for household investment and savings for emergencies. The study found that women in beneficiary households were making more sole and joint decisions, although impacts translated into relatively modest increases.

Early-life Exposure to Income Inequality and Adolescent Health and Well-being: Evidence from the Health Behaviour in School-aged Children Study
Early-life Exposure to Income Inequality and Adolescent Health and Well-being: Evidence from the Health Behaviour in School-aged Children Study
Published: 2016 Innocenti Working Papers

Children and adolescents living in relative poverty – regardless of overall material conditions – tend to experience more interpersonal violence, family turmoil, and environmental hazards that increase risk of injury, engage in more health compromising behaviours (e.g., physical inactivity, poor nutrition, smoking), report lower subjective well-being, and exhibit more social skills deficits and emotional and behavioural problems.

Making Money Work: Unconditional cash transfers allow women to save and re-invest in rural Zambia
Making Money Work: Unconditional cash transfers allow women to save and re-invest in rural Zambia
Published: 2016 Innocenti Working Papers

Savings play a crucial role in faciliating investment in income-generating activities and the pathway out of poverty for low-income households in developing settings. Yet, there is little evidence of successful programmes that increase savings, particularly those that are simultaneously cost effective, scaleable and  address gender inequalities. This paper examines the impact of the Government of Zambia’s Child Grant Programme (CGP), an unconditional cash transfer targeted to women in households with young children, on women’s savings and participation in non-farm enterprises.

Findings show that the CGP enabled poor women to save more cash and that the impact is larger for women who had lower decision-making power at baseline. The results support the proposition that cash transfers have the potential for long-term sustainable improvements in women’s financial position and household well-being by promoting savings and facilitating productive investments among low-income rural households.

Why Income Inequalities Matter for Young People’s Health: A look at the evidence
Why Income Inequalities Matter for Young People’s Health: A look at the evidence
Published: 2016 Innocenti Working Papers

Although child and adolescent inequalities are still less understood than those of adults, we have made progress in understanding the pathways that lead to negative outcomes and the limitations of some ‘adult-specific’ indicators as proxies of young people’s health and well-being. Nonetheless, the academic literature has been able to establish a clear negative relationship between a person’s material circumstances and their health outcomes and behaviours such as being overweight, lack of physical activity, higher levels of smoking and mental health problems, all of which persist throughout a person’s life. The personal and societal toll of these effects is clear, yet policies are still lagging behind, tackling proximal causes rather than ‘the causes of the causes’ of these health inequalities. This paper aims to summarise relevant knowledge on the socio-economic causes of health inequalities in children. It will not only provide a foundation to the Innocenti Report Card 13 in terms of outlining our knowledge regarding the drivers of health inequality but it will also help us shed light on its consequences.

Cite this publication | No. of pages: 24 | Thematic area: Adolescents, Health | Tags: adolescent health, income, inequality
Inequalities in Adolescent Health and Life Satisfaction: Evidence from the Health Behaviour in School-aged Children study
Inequalities in Adolescent Health and Life Satisfaction: Evidence from the Health Behaviour in School-aged Children study
Published: 2016 Innocenti Working Papers

International studies of inequalities in adolescent health tend to focus on the socio-economic gradient in average outcomes rather than their dispersion within countries. Although understanding the extent to which differences in health are related to socio-economic disadvantage is important, focusing exclusively on socio-economic status risks neglecting differences in the distribution of health outcomes within and between countries. To fill this research gap, this study analyses variation in the extent of inequality in the lower half of the distribution in five indicators of adolescent health and well-being – health symptoms, physical activity, healthy eating, unhealthy eating, and life satisfaction – across EU and/or OECD countries that took part in the latest cycle of the Health Behaviour in School-aged Children study.

Family Affluence and Inequality in Adolescent Health and Life Satisfaction: Evidence from the HBSC study 2002-2014
Family Affluence and Inequality in Adolescent Health and Life Satisfaction: Evidence from the HBSC study 2002-2014
Published: 2016 Innocenti Working Papers

A large body of literature has established socio-economic gradients in adolescent health, but few studies have investigated the extent to which these gradients are associated with very poor health outcomes. The current analysis examined the extent to which the socio-economic background of adolescents relates to very poor self-reported health and well-being (the so-called ’bottom end’). We examined the following as indicators of adolescent health: psychosomatic health complaints; physical activity; healthy eating; unhealthy eating; and life satisfaction. Adolescents who scored below the mean of the lower half of the distribution of a given indicator fall in the “bottom group” on this indicator. The largest, most persistent and widespread socio-economic gradients are in life satisfaction, physical activity and healthy eating, while the findings are mixed for unhealthy eating and psychosomatic health. Socio-economic inequalities were largely stable, but in a sizeable minority of the countries, socio-economic inequalities in physical activity and healthy eating have widened between 2001/02 and 2013/14, while inequalities in unhealthy eating and life satisfaction have narrowed in several countries.

Falling Behind: Socio-demographic profiles of educationally disadvantaged youth. Evidence from PISA 2000-2012
Falling Behind: Socio-demographic profiles of educationally disadvantaged youth. Evidence from PISA 2000-2012

AUTHOR(S)
Zlata Bruckauf

Published: 2016 Innocenti Working Papers
Early identification of students who fail to reach basic, age-appropriate literacy skills is the first step to ensure timely support of their learning. Understanding those drivers of low achievement that are beyond students’ control enables policy makers to foster equal opportunity for achievement. Drawing on the OECD Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) 2000 to 2012 data, this paper examines the risk factors of low achievement, defined here as scoring below the 10th percentile of the distribution, and their evolution over time, across 39 industrialized nations. These include an aggregate measure of socio-economic status (SES), immigration background, non-test language spoken at home, living in a single parent household, and gender. We find that family SES, is one of the most consistent predictors of low-achievement (across a diverse range of educational systems) and most persistent (across time). Amongst other results, we also find no evidence that the gender gap in reading – in favour of girls – narrowed over time, leaving boys at risk of educational disadvantage in the majority of countries.
Children in the Bottom of Income Distribution in Europe: Risks and composition
Children in the Bottom of Income Distribution in Europe: Risks and composition
Published: 2016 Innocenti Working Papers
In the context of increasing child poverty, deprivation rates and the relative child income gap, and with the most economically vulnerable children hit extensively by the crisis (Chzhen 2014), this paper sets out to understand who are the most disadvantaged children. Analysis of the composition of the children at the bottom end of the income distribution illustrates that households with a lone parent, at least one migrant member, low work intensity, low education, or in large families are overrepresented in the first decile to different degrees in European countries. The analyses also reveal immense differences in living standards for children across Europe. In European countries included in the analyses, at least 1 in 5 children in the poorest decile lives in a deprived household.  A closer look at the different dimensions of deprivation at the child-specific level, reveals what living in the poorest decile means for children’s everyday life.
Poverty and Children’s Cognitive Trajectories: Evidence from the United Kingdom Millennium Cohort Study
Poverty and Children’s Cognitive Trajectories: Evidence from the United Kingdom Millennium Cohort Study
Published: 2016 Innocenti Working Papers

Existing evidence is inconclusive on whether a socio-economic gradient in children’s cognitive ability widens, narrows or remains stable over time and there is little research on the extent of ‘cognitive mobility’ of children who had a poor start in life compared to their peers. Using data from five sweeps of the United Kingdom (UK) Millennium Cohort Study (MCS) at the ages of 9 months, 3 years, 5 years, 7 years and 11 years, this paper explores the cognitive ability trajectory of children in the bottom decile of the distribution at a given age, and the factors that drive or hinder their progress relative to their peers. The paper analyses children’s risks of moving in and out of the bottom decile of the cognitive ability distribution. The findings indicate a relatively high level of cognitive mobility between ages 3 and 11, especially in the pre-school period (between ages 3 and 5), with children from income-poor households more likely to get ‘trapped’ in the bottom of the age-specific cognitive ability distribution.

Child Poverty Dynamics and Income Mobility in Europe
Child Poverty Dynamics and Income Mobility in Europe
Published: 2016 Innocenti Working Papers
While a long-standing literature analyses cross-country variation in the incidence of child poverty in rich countries in a single year, less is known about children’s individual movements into and out of low household income over a period of time. Using longitudinal data from the European Union Statistics on Income and Living Conditions (EU-SILC), the present study addresses this gap by analysing both income mobility and child poverty dynamics in the EU during the recent economic crisis. It finds that income growth among children has been generally pro-poor but not sufficiently so to put a brake on the increasing income inequality. There is substantial heterogeneity among the EU-SILC countries in the rates of child poverty entry and exit. Scandinavian countries tend to combine lower exit and entry rates, while Southern and Eastern European countries tend to have higher rates of both poverty exit and entry.
Income Inequality among Children in Europe 2008–2013
Income Inequality among Children in Europe 2008–2013
Published: 2016 Innocenti Working Papers
With income inequality increasing and children exposed to higher risks of poverty and material deprivation than the population as a whole in the majority of European countries, there is a concern that income inequality among children has worsened over the financial crisis. This paper presents results on the levels of bottom-end inequality in children’s incomes in 31 European countries in 2013 and traces the evolution of this measure since 2008. The relative income gap worsened in 20 of the 31 European countries between 2008 and 2013. Social transfers play a positive role in reducing income differentials, as post-transfer income gaps are smaller than those before transfers, especially in countries like Ireland and the United Kingdom. Countries with greater bottom-end income inequality among children have lower levels of child well-being, and higher levels of child poverty and material deprivation.
61 - 72 of 252