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UNICEF Social Inclusion, Policy and Budgeting

Child Poverty Insights - Child Development and Economic Development: Lessons and Future

Cover Image
AUTHOR UNICEF and Jo Boyden and Stefan Dercon
TYPE Lessons Learned/Good Practices
DATE 2012
TOPIC Child poverty and disparities

Young Lives recently published a review essay on how economic growth can work for children. What are some of its key messages?

Young Lives is a longitudinal study of childhood poverty, following the lives of 12,000 children in 4 countries (Ethiopia, the state of Andhra Pradesh in India, Peru and Viet Nam) over 15 years. The children are grouped in 2 cohorts – an older cohort, born in 1994-95, and a younger cohort, born in 2000-01. The study has followed the children since 2001, over the years leading up to the financial, food and energy price crisis of 2009, when all four of the Young Lives study countries had been experiencing rapid economic growth, in common with many other developing countries.

Using evidence from the Young Lives survey, and drawing on research from several disciplines, a recent research paper suggests how policymakers can use such growth as a tool to benefit children. It concludes, in summary, that it is not economic growth per se, or the level of that growth, that matters for children, but rather the nature or quality of growth. Policymakers concerned to improve children’s well-being need to better consider how to convert economic growth into social change that benefits poor children and their families.

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