Around the world, two thirds of households with children have lost income during pandemic

UNICEF-World Bank report finds that the lost earnings have left adults in 1 in 4 households with children going a day or more without food

10 March 2022
© UNICEF Cambodia/2022/Bunsak But
UNICEF Cambodia/2022/Bunsak But

10 March 2022 – At least two thirds of households with children have lost income since the COVID-19 pandemic hit two years ago, according to a new global report published today by UNICEF and the World Bank.

The Impact of COVID-19 on the welfare of households with children report presents findings from data collected in 35 countries, including Cambodia. It notes that households with three or more children were most likely to have lost income, with more than three-quarters experiencing a reduction in earnings. This compares to 68 percent of households with one or two children.

The report also notes that income losses left adults in 1 in 4 households with children going without food for a day or more. Adults in nearly half of households with children reported skipping a meal due to a lack of money. Around a quarter of adults in households with or without children reported stopping working since the pandemic hit.

In Cambodia specifically, UNICEF, the World Food Programme, and the Asian Development Bank have also conducted regular COVID-19 Socio-Economic Surveys throughout the pandemic to monitor its impact on vulnerable households. The results confirm that Cambodian households with children were more likely to lose income than households without children. 77% of households with children experienced loss of income, compared to 69% of households without children. Similarly, 69% of households with children resorted to at least one negative food-based coping strategy during the pandemic, such as reducing food portions or choosing less healthy ingredients.

“This global research report and our own study demonstrate that children have faced the greatest hardships as a result of the pandemic,” said Foroogh Foyouzat, UNICEF’s Representative in Cambodia. “The Royal Government of Cambodia’s notable efforts to combat the pandemic and to alleviate its negative impacts through the introduction of comprehensive social protection have certainly cushioned the harm caused to children, but haven’t eliminated it. We need to expand social protection services for the most vulnerable to give children a chance to recover from the pandemic and be able to access the education, healthcare, nutrition and other social services they deserve and which they need to thrive. We are committed to working systematically with the Government and other partners to make this happen.”

The global report finds that children around the world have been deprived of basics during the pandemic, with children in 40 percent of households not engaging in any form of educational activities while schools were closed. In Cambodia, 50% of children did not have access to online learning during school closures. As a result, the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport has put in place remedial measures to help children catch up and is working with UNICEF to assess the extent of learning loss.

“The disruptions to education and health care for children, coupled with catastrophic out-of-pocket health expenses which affect more than 1 billion people, could put the brakes on the development of human capital – the levels of education, health and well-being people need to become productive members of society,” said Carolina Sánchez-Páramo, Global Director of Poverty and Equity for the World Bank. “This could lock in increases in inequality for generations to come, making it less likely that children will do better than their parents or grandparents.”

The report shows that households with three or more children were the most likely to experience a loss of income, but they were also most likely to receive government assistance, with 25 percent accessing this support, compared to 10 percent of households with no children. The report notes that this helped to mitigate the adverse impact of the crisis on households who received support.

The report notes that prior to COVID-19, one in six children worldwide – 356 million – experienced extreme poverty, where household members struggled to survive on less than $1.90 a day. More than 40 percent of children lived in moderate poverty. And nearly 1 billion children lived in multidimensional poverty in developing countries, a figure that has since increased by 10 percent as a result of the pandemic.  

Since the start of the pandemic, more than 200 countries or territories have introduced thousands of social protection measures, and the World Bank has supported countries with approximately $12.5 billion to implement such measures, reaching nearly 1 billion individuals worldwide. UNICEF and the World Bank urge a rapid expansion of social protection systems for children and their families. Support including the delivery of cash transfers and the universalization of child benefits are critical investments that can help lift families out of economic distress and help them prepare for future shocks.



Notes to editors:

The report draws on information from a set of high-frequency phone surveys (from 35 countries) and focusing solely on the impact of the crisis on children. In the paper, we analyze the initial impact of the crisis (with survey data collected during the period April to September 2020) as well as the subsequent evolution of the impact of the crisis (with survey data collected during the period October 2020 to May 2021). We focus on the following harmonized key indicators of children’s welfare covering both their individual conditions as well as those of the household they live in: (i) Income loss and job loss; (ii) Food insecurity (households reporting an adult member didn’t eat for a whole day or skipped a meal due to lack of money/resources); (iii) Social protection programs (whether households have received any government assistance since the beginning of the pandemic); and (iv) Education (participation in any educational activities following closures due to COVID-19).


For further information, please contact:

Georgina Thompson, UNICEF New York, Tel: +1 917 238 1559,

Elizabeth Howton, World Bank, Washington, Tel: +1 703 863 4030,

Media contacts

Rudina Vojvoda
Chief of Communication
UNICEF Cambodia
Tel: +85523260204;ext=434
Bunly Meas
Communication Specialist
UNICEF Cambodia
Tel: +85523260204;ext=435


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