UNICEF Social Inclusion, Policy and Budgeting

Considering Cross-National Equity: Children in Highland Populations in South-East Asia

Cover Image
AUTHOR Sólrún Engilbertsdóttir, Martin C. Evans, Ishani Shrestha
ORGANIZATION
TYPE Working Paper
DATE 2013
TOPIC Child poverty and disparities
LANGUAGE English
ABSTRACT

Our research addresses the challenge of using Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey (MICS) data to drill down to potentially small sub-groups of the population.  The approach moves ethnic analysis from  one based on aggregated profiles that tend to present just two groups, the ‘ethnic majority’ and ‘ethnic minorities’, to a more nuanced approach that addresses equity issues between ‘ethnic minorities’.  We focus on children from Hill People minority communities across three countries in South East Asia: Viet Nam, Laos and Thailand. By looking at a common ethnic cluster of populations, Hill People, we address how to consistently identify, measure and report equity issues for ‘indigenous peoples’ (using the UN definition that covers Hill People of SE Asia) and thus of cross-national ethnic minorities as well as national populations. 

This paper presents three country analyses alongside each other which are designed to be an exemplar that can be replicated in other countries concerned with child focused ethnic minority profiling. It provides UNICEF and other child rights partners and governments with a useful tool for equity related targeting for programming purposes. In addition, focusing on a cross-national ethnic minority group provides an opportunity for inter-regional learning and inter-country co-operation for addressing inequities.

Our findings demonstrate three important areas of ethnic minority profiling:

1)         The importance of rich profiling for a comprehensive understanding of ethnically based inequities, going beyond comparing the majority population against a single aggregate ethnic minority group

2)         Robust methods and approaches to profiling small cross-national sub-groups (within the specified limitations of survey design) which can be adopted more widely in child focused ethnic profiling work

3)         The potential of inter-country learning and cooperation for addressing cross-national ethnic inequities


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