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Children in high income countries

In keeping with UNICEF's universal mandate for children in every country, the Innocenti Report Card series focuses on the well-being of children in high income countries. Each Report Card publication includes league tables ranking OECD and EU countries according to the latest available comparative data. Report Cards are designed to appeal to a wide audience while maintaining academic rigour.

Innocenti Report Cards are valuable advocacy tools for bringing the well-being of children and their families in industrialized countries to the attention of the public, policy decision makers and the news media. UNICEF Innocenti's Report Card 15, An Unfair Start: Inequality in Children’s Education in Rich Countries, presents a comprehensive assessment of current levels of inequalities of educational opportunity in rich countries, using the best and most up-to-date data available. It also discusses what can be done to reduce these inequalities.  The report establishes a point of departure for reviewing progress towards minimising educational inequality for children in rich countries. It compares 41 countries of the European Union (EU) and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

Established in 2000, the Innocenti Report Card series has analyzed a wide variety of themes in the living conditions of children and adolescents. The series constitutes one of UNICEF’s major efforts to provide a set of child well-being monitoring instruments focused on rich economies. It has also provided a regular high-profile platform for improved evidence based efforts for the most deprived children in these countries.

Children in high income countries

In keeping with UNICEF's universal mandate for children in every country, the Innocenti Report Card series focuses on the well-being of children in high income countries. Each Report Card publication includes league tables ranking OECD and EU countries according to the latest available comparative data. Report Cards are designed to appeal to a wide audience while maintaining academic rigour.

Innocenti Report Cards are valuable advocacy tools for bringing the well-being of children and their families in industrialized countries to the attention of the public, policy decision makers and the news media. UNICEF Innocenti's Report Card 15, An Unfair Start: Inequality in Children’s Education in Rich Countries, presents a comprehensive assessment of current levels of inequalities of educational opportunity in rich countries, using the best and most up-to-date data available. It also discusses what can be done to reduce these inequalities.  The report establishes a point of departure for reviewing progress towards minimising educational inequality for children in rich countries. It compares 41 countries of the European Union (EU) and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

Established in 2000, the Innocenti Report Card series has analyzed a wide variety of themes in the living conditions of children and adolescents. The series constitutes one of UNICEF’s major efforts to provide a set of child well-being monitoring instruments focused on rich economies. It has also provided a regular high-profile platform for improved evidence based efforts for the most deprived children in these countries.

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In the world’s richest countries, some children do worse at school than others because of circumstances beyond their control, such as where they were born, the language they speak or their parents’ occupations. These children enter the education system at a disadvantage and can drop further behind if educational policies and practices reinforce, rather than reduce, the gap between them and their peers. These types of inequality are unjust. Not all children have an equal opportunity to reach their full potential, to pursue their interests and to develop their talents and skills. This has social and economic costs. This report focuses on educational inequalities in 41 of the world’s richest countries, all of which are members of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and/or the European Union (EU). Using the most recent data available, it examines inequalities across childhood – from access to preschool to expectations of post-secondary education – and explores in depth the relationships between educational inequality and factors such as parents’ occupations, migration background, the child’s gender and school characteristics. The key feature of the report is the league table, which summarizes the extent of educational inequalities at preschool, primary school and secondary school levels. The indicator of inequality at the preschool level is the percentage of students enrolled in organized learning one year before the official age of primary school entry. The indicator for both primary school (Grade 4, around age 10) and secondary school (age 15) is the gap in reading scores between the lowest- and highest-performing students.

There is growing recognition among international organizations, scholars and policymakers that education systems must produce equitable outcomes, but there is far less consensus on what this means in practice. This paper analyses differences in inequality of outcome and inequality of opportunity in educational achievement among primary and secondary schoolchildren across 38 countries of the European Union (EU) and/or the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). The analysis focuses on reading achievement, drawing on data from the Progress in International Reading Literacy Study (PIRLS) and the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA). We use several measures to operationalize the two concepts of inequality in education. Our results show that inequality of outcome does not necessarily go hand in hand with inequality of opportunity. These two concepts lead to measures that produce very different country rankings. We argue that information on both inequality of outcome and inequality of opportunity is necessary for a better understanding of equity in children’s education.

The 2008 financial crisis triggered the worst global recession since the Great Depression. Many OECD countries responded to the crisis by reducing social spending. Through 11 diverse country case studies (Belgium, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Spain, Sweden, United Kingdom, and the United States), this volume describes the evolution of child poverty and material well-being during the crisis, and links these outcomes with the responses by governments. The analysis underlines that countries with fragmented social protection systems were less able to protect the incomes of households with children at the time when unemployment soared. In contrast, countries with more comprehensive social protection cushioned the impact of the crisis on households with children, especially if they had implemented fiscal stimulus packages at the onset of the crisis. Although the macroeconomic 'shock' itself and the starting positions differed greatly across countries, while the responses by governments covered a very wide range of policy levers and varied with their circumstances, cuts in social spending and tax increases often played a major role in the impact that the crisis had on the living standards of families and children.

EDITOR(S)

Yekaterina Chzhen; Sudhanshu Handa; Brian Nolan; Bea Cantillon

This Report Card offers an assessment of child well-being in the context of sustainable development across 41 countries of the European Union (EU) and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

The new Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development aim to build on the achievements made under the UN Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by broadening their scope and building upon a consultative process. The MDGs contributed to substantial social progress in eight key areas: poverty; education; gender equality; child mortality; maternal health; disease; the environment; and global partnership. The SDGs not only include a greater number of development goals than the MDGs, but are also global in focus, including advanced economies for the first time. This paper draws attention to the main challenges the 2030 Agenda presents for rich countries, by highlighting a set of critical child specific indicators, evaluating countries’ progress towards meeting the Goals, and highlighting gaps in existing data. The paper will inform UNICEFs Report Card 14, Building the Future: Children and the Sustainable Development Goals in Rich Countries.

Target 2.1 of the Sustainable Development Goals calls for an end to hunger, in all its forms, by 2030. Measuring food security among children under age 5, who represent a quarter of the world’s population, remains a challenge that is largely unfeasible for current global monitoring systems. The SDG framework has agreed to use the Food Insecurity Experience Scale (FIES) to measure moderate and severe food insecurity. The FIES is an experience-based metric that reports food-related behaviours on the inability to access food due to resource constraints. We present the first global estimates of the share and number of children below age 15, who live with a respondent who is food insecure.

AUTHOR(S)

Audrey Pereira; Sudhanshu Handa; Goran Holmqvist

The new universal Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) call for “reducing at least by half the proportion of men, women and children of all ages living in poverty in all its dimensions according to national definitions” by 2030.

AUTHOR(S)

Yekaterina Chzhen; Zlata Bruckauf; Emilia Toczydlowska

Drawing on Europe’s experience, this brief provides a cross-country comparative overview of inequality affecting children in the migration pathway, who are often described as 'children on the move'. Following a brief overview of the policy and practice in relation to various categories of refugee and migration children in Europe, it reflects on the performance of the countries with regard to Target 10.7 of the SDG.

AUTHOR(S)

Emilia Toczydlowska; Bina D'Costa

This brief takes a deep dive in the semantics and conceptual issues in the children and migration discourse, and highlights some of the key implementation gaps. It offers a summary of the risks, vulnerabilities and protection needs of children as refugees and migration in Europe. Using the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the Convention on the Rights of the Child as the normative frameworks, this brief also emphasizes how the voices of children in migration pathway must be heard and respected.

AUTHOR(S)

Bina D'Costa; Emilia Toczydlowska

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