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UNICEF Social Inclusion, Policy and Budgeting

Public finance and local governance

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Social budgeting and public finance work in context

UNICEF’s mission is to help countries ensure that all children enjoy the right to conditions necessary for a safe and happy childhood, as well as those that will allow them to develop to their full potential as human beings and citizens. The extent to which public investments are appropriately targeted toward boys and girls makes a huge difference in the fulfillment of these goals.

From a child rights perspective, social budget work focuses on building long-term institutions for child-friendly policies, as reflected in public sector budgets. Among the outcomes of social budget work are more—and more effectively channeled—resources for children, women and poor families.

In trying economic times when public sector and household resources are tight, it is particularly important to ensure that public finance policies are geared towards protecting services for children. Without this protection, we not only threaten the progress made toward the Millennium Development Goals, but risk planting the seeds of poverty for future generations.

To maximize resources for children, UNICEF supports governments in identifying funding sources, creating consensus around the need to invest more in children, and using public finance policies to achieve sustainable progress in the fulfillment of children’s rights. Visit our Eyes on the Budget website to learn more.

Helping to ensure maximum available resources for children

The Convention on the Rights of the Child indicates that states parties have the obligation to undertake measures to the maximum extent of their available resources and, where needed, within the framework of international cooperation to ensure the fulfillment of children’s rights. UNICEF works with governments and other partners, including civil society, other development agencies, and the donor community to help ensure that budget and policy priorities reflect this commitment.

While UNICEF’s specific initiatives will vary from country to country, there are several common goals, each contributing to stronger public finance policies for children:

  • Improving equity by helping to ensure that children, women and poor families are not marginalized in both the actual public sector allocations as well as the decision-making process of arriving at these;
  • Improving efficiency by helping to achieve the best possible results for children for the amount of resources committed;
  • Contributing to stability by helping to secure adequate resources to sustain investments in the social sectors and promote social protection, notably during crises.


    Visualization of economic trends and child outcomes

    Tips on selecting variables, depending on the story you want to tell:

    An example: As economic growth has lifted many developing countries in terms of per capita GDP, there has emerged a positive corridor of progress in reducing under five mortality and malnutrition incidences. However, the degree of progress varies considerably and even among countries with similar pace of economic development. Today, the majority of deprived children in terms of the number of deaths under five and the number of malnourished children are found in those countries classified as middle income by the World Bank (and the UN).

    For this story, you may select the following:

    -  horizontal axis as per capita GDP in constant US$ 2000 price (set it in log)
    -  vertical axis as the under-five mortality prevalence rate
    -  the size of the bubble as actual number of under five deaths
    -  the color as income group evolving over time

    You can also click on individual country bubble, to label and track a particular country.
    Source: Childinfo, WDIs, and WEO

    1) Under Five mortality and GDP per capita (1960-2010) – UNICEF Social Policy and Economic Analyses unit: 2) Stunting and GDP per capita (1980-2008) – UNICEF Social Policy and Economic Analyses unit: 3) Public Expenditures (1980-2016) - UNICEF Social Policy and Economic Analyses unit:



Documents and publications

Latest news

Engagements in Influencing Domestic Public Finance for Children (PF4C)
The overarching goal of the PF4C Framework is to contribute to the realization of children’s rights by supporting the best possible use of public budgets. Also available in Arabic, French, Spanish.

The Road to Pratolino
Global Consultation on Social Policy, Equity, Rights and Development
21-24 Feb 2012

Eyes on the Budget

UNICEF and Fordham University collaborated to create the Eyes on the Budget website that hosts an international database on social budgeting innovations and innovators.

Global Inequality: Beyond the Bottom Billion - A Rapid Review of Income Distribution in 141 Countries

This working paper discusses the negative implications of rising income inequality for development.

The Case of Mexico's 1995 Peso Crisis and Argentina's 2002 Convertibility Crisis
Paola Pereznieto

This working paper looks at the two most significant economic crises in Latin America during the 1990s and early 2000s.