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Innocenti Working Papers

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UNICEF Innocenti's complete catalogue of research and reports

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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.
Education for All? Measuring inequality of educational outcomes among 15-year-olds across 39 industrialized nations
Education for All? Measuring inequality of educational outcomes among 15-year-olds across 39 industrialized nations
Published: 2016 Innocenti Working Papers
Measuring inequality of learning outcomes in a way that provides meaningful benchmarks for national policy while retaining a focus on those students who are ‘hard to reach’ and ‘hard to teach’ is a challenging but vital task in the light of the global post-2015 education agenda. Drawing on PISA 2012 data and its earlier rounds, this paper explores alternative approaches to measuring educational inequality at the ‘bottom-end’ of educational distribution within the cross-national context. Its main aim is to understand how far behind children are allowed to fall in their academic achievement compared to what is considered a standard performance in their country. Under the framework of relative (measured as achievement gap between the median and 10th percentile) and absolute (measured by the percentage of students achieving at a given benchmark) educational disadvantage it examines cross-country rankings as well as national trajectories with reference to overall academic progress. We find that on average across OECD countries around 11% of 15- year-olds lacked skills in solving basic reading, mathematical, as well as science, tasks in 2012, but variation across countries was large.
Adolescents at Risk: Psychosomatic health complaints, low life satisfaction, excessive sugar consumption and their relationship with cumulative risks
Adolescents at Risk: Psychosomatic health complaints, low life satisfaction, excessive sugar consumption and their relationship with cumulative risks
Published: 2016 Innocenti Working Papers
Adolescence is a time of transitions when experimentation, risk taking and active peer interactions can be viewed as a part of the development process. Yet, for some groups of young people with reported poor psychosomatic health, low life satisfaction or unhealthy eating habits these experiences may be different. Empirical evidence is limited for recognising the overlapping and cumulative risks of adolescents’ health disadvantage and multiple externalized risk behaviours and outcomes (smoking, drinking, binge drinking, regular fighting, injuries and bullying). Drawing on the most recent 2013/2014 data of the Health Behaviour of School Children (HBSC) study, this paper examines the risks of individual and cumulative risks (three or more types) associated with being in the bottom group of psychosomatic health complaints, life satisfaction and unhealthy eating (excessive sugar consumption) across 29 countries.
Does Market Access Mitigate the Impact of Seasonality on Child Growth? Panel data evidence from northern Ethiopia
Does Market Access Mitigate the Impact of Seasonality on Child Growth? Panel data evidence from northern Ethiopia
Published: 2016 Innocenti Working Papers

Seasonality in agricultural production continues to shape intra-annual food availability and prices in low-income countries. Using high-frequency panel data from northern Ethiopia, this study attempts to quantify seasonal fluctuations in children's weights. In line with earlier studies, we document considerable seasonality in children’s age and height adjusted weights. While children located closer to local food markets are better nourished compared to their counterparts residing in more remote areas, their weights are also subject to considerable seasonality. Further analysis provides evidence that children located closer to food markets consume more diverse diets than those located farther away. This leads us to conclude that households located near these food markets are not able to insulate their children from seasonal weight fluctuations.

What We Know about Ethical Research Involving Children in Humanitarian Settings: An overview of principles, the literature and case studies
What We Know about Ethical Research Involving Children in Humanitarian Settings: An overview of principles, the literature and case studies
Published: 2016 Innocenti Working Papers
This working paper identifies and explores the issues that should be considered when undertaking ethical research involving children in humanitarian settings. Both the universal (i.e. relevant to all research involving children) and specific ethical issues that may arise when involving children in research in humanitarian settings are examined. This is undertaken through a review of the literature, relevant case studies, and a reflection on the ethical issues highlighted in UNICEF’s Procedure for Ethical Standards in Research, Evaluation, Data Collection and Analysis (the Ethics Procedure). The key findings of this overview highlight that many of the ethical issues that are present in other settings remain relevant and applicable in the context of humanitarian settings. These include: an institution’s capacity to appropriately and respectfully engage children in research, understanding power relations, securing informed consent and assent, ascertaining harms and benefits, maintaining privacy and confidentiality, and ensuring appropriate communication of findings.
Happiness and Alleviation of Income Poverty: Impacts of an unconditional cash transfer programme using a subjective well-being approach
Happiness and Alleviation of Income Poverty: Impacts of an unconditional cash transfer programme using a subjective well-being approach
Published: 2016 Innocenti Working Papers

This study analyzes the impact of an exogenous, positive income shock on caregivers’ subjective well-being in Malawi using panel data from 3,365 households targeted to receive Malawi’s Social Cash Transfer Programme that provides unconditional cash to ultra-poor, labour-constrained households. The study consists of a cluster-randomized, longitudinal design. After the baseline survey, half of these village clusters were randomly selected to receive the transfer and a follow-up survey was conducted 17 months later. Utilizing econometric analysis and panel data methods, we find that household income increases from the cash transfer can have substantial subjective well-being gains among caregivers. Households use the cash to improve their families’ livelihoods, ensuring provision of their basic needs including food, shelter, and clothing. Reduction of these daily stresses makes caregivers happier about their current situations and gives them hope that the future will continue to get better.

The Effect of Cash Transfers and Household Vulnerability on Food Insecurity in Zimbabwe
The Effect of Cash Transfers and Household Vulnerability on Food Insecurity in Zimbabwe
Published: 2016 Innocenti Working Papers

We study the impact of the Zimbabwe Harmonized Social Cash Transfer (HSCT) on household food security after 12 months of implementation. The programme has had a strong impact on a well-known food security scale – the Household Food Insecurity Access Scale (HFIAS) – but muted impacts on food consumption expenditure. However aggregate food consumption hides dynamic activity taking place within the household where the cash is used to obtain more food from the market and rely less on food received as gifts. The cash in turn gives them greater choice in their food basket which improves diet diversity. Further investigation of the determinants of food consumption and the HFIAS shows that several dimensions of household vulnerability correlate more strongly with the HFIAS than food consumption. Labour constraints, which is a key vulnerability criterion used by the HSCT to target households, is an important predictor of the HFIAS but not food expenditure, and its effect on food security is even larger during the lean season.

Governance and Policy Coordination: The case of birth registration in Peru
Governance and Policy Coordination: The case of birth registration in Peru
Published: 2016 Innocenti Working Papers

The Paper explores coordination through the lens of civil registration and vital statistics, with particular reference to birth registration in Peru. It focuses on the role that coordination can play in making birth registration function effectively. While the capacity of governments to deliver the function of birth registration is central to this paper, the role that understanding coordination can play in improving public services is examined, especially services for children. The capacity to register the births of children is a long-standing function of governments, and can be seen as a test of government effectiveness. In Peru, backward mapping showed that the trails from local and district registrars to the government registration organization (RENIEC) stopped almost immediately. This seems to point towards the centralized structure and top-down approach of RENIEC; to sustain its achievements to date and to reach the final three per cent of unregistered births it should consider incentivizing and empowering local and community administrations.

61 - 72 of 245