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Child poverty and disparities in Kiribati, Solomon Islands and Vanuatu: Developing child-centered analysis for policy responses Peter Whiteford, SPRC, University of New South Wales

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Child poverty and disparities in Kiribati, Solomon Islands and Vanuatu:

Developing child-centered analysis for policy responses

Peter Whiteford, SPRC, University of New South Wales

This presentation is based on a report prepared for UNICEF Pacific by Peter Whiteford, Pooja Sawrikar, Samia Michail, Gerry Redmond and Alison O’Connor. The authors acknowledge the United Nation’s Children’s Fund (UNICEF) for funding to complete this phase of the research, and the comments received from Will Parks and Reiko Yoshihara. This presentation expresses the views of the authors only and not UNICEF

outline
OUTLINE
  • Background to the study
  • Is there real poverty in the Pacific?
  • What data exist – assessing available statistics on child well-being?
  • Child poverty in rich countries: Lessons to be learned?
  • How can data be improved to monitor potential impacts of the crisis and improve policy?
background why did unicef commission the project
Background: Why did UNICEF commission the project?
  • In 2008, UNICEF and governments of Kiribati, Solomon Islands and Vanuatu commissioned SPRC to design a study that explored the extent and causes of child poverty
  • Progress towards achieving Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) in the Pacific has not been good
    • “Oceania is off track for nearly every goal, and falling back in some areas. Even where there is progress, it is too slow to achieve MDGs. Only Sub-Saharan Africa is off track on more indicators than Oceania” (Sachs Report, 2005)
  • Economic growth in the Pacific slower than other similar island countries such as those in Caribbean or Indian Ocean – high population growth rates may worsen these problems.
  • The global financial crisis highlights the importance of achieving more effective social policies, particularly for children.
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How is child hardship/poverty

being studied?

  • Initial analysis of available social and economic data to determine levels and trends in child poverty/ hardship and areas for future collection and research
  • Analysis of previous economic policy impacts in relation to child-related goals and targets and lessons learnt (including analysis on MDG progress)
  • Method:
    • Phase 1: Design stage 2008-2009
    • Phase 2: Implementation stage 2009
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The UNICEF Global Study
  • The UNICEF Global Study attempts to operationalise the definition of absolute poverty which has been agreed for policy purposes by the governments of 117 countries at the 1995 World Social Summit i.e.  "a condition characterised by severe deprivation of basic human needs, including food, safe drinking water, sanitation facilities, health, shelter, education and information. It depends not only on income but also on access to social services.”
  • The study has been carried out in 40 countries, but in no PICS. Small island states covered include Jamaica and the Maldives, with others including Madagascar and the Philippines.

Global Study on

Child Poverty and Disparities

GUIDE

UNICEF

Global Policy Section

Division of Policy and Planning

New York

SEPTEMBER 2007

the unicef global study
The UNICEF Global Study
  • 1.1 Children, poverty and disparities
  • 1.2 The political, economic and institutional context
  • 1.3 Resource allocation as evidence of commitment to child results
  • Part Two: Poverty and Children
  • 2.1 Income poverty and deprivations affecting children
  • Table 2.1.1 Trends in income/consumption poverty
  • Table 2.1.4 Child poverty as multiple deprivations
  • 2.2 Child survival and equity
  • Part Three: The Pillars of Child Well Being
  • 3.1 Nutrition
  • 3.2 Health
  • 3.3 Child protection
  • 3.4 Education
  • 3.5 Social protection
objectives of the research
Objectives of the research
  • Pacific island countries develop and implement evidence-based, regional, pro-poor and National Sustainable Development Strategies (NSDS) to address population, poverty and economic exclusion issues, stimulate equitable growth, create economic opportunities and quality employment, and promote sustainable livelihoods
  • The rights of children, youth and women are promoted through evidence-based social and economic policies that provide inclusive mechanisms
  • Ministry of Planning/Finance, Social Sector Ministries, and Provincial Administrations (in selected provinces) use evidence-based and participatory pro-child, -youth and -women development policy formulation processes, tools and options (National/sub-national)
is there real poverty in the pacific
Is there real poverty in the Pacific?
  • “Until recently, poverty has not been considered a serious issue in the Asian Development Bank’s (ADB) Pacific developing member countries (PDMCs). Pacific society has long been seen as a traditional culture of caring for and sharing with family and clan. Images of hunger and destitution and of absolute poverty frequently seen in other parts of the developing world have been largely absent in the Pacific” (Abbott and Pollard, 2004).
  • Households living on remote islands may have limited access to cash incomes, but have access to the sea and usually to traditional land holdings for subsistence crops.
  • Traditional family and kinship networks strong and broad array of churches and NGOs.
  • In all three countries, only 23-25% of adult population are in the formal economy, but potentially wide sharing of resources through kinship networks and obligations.
is there real poverty in the pacific9
Is there real poverty in the Pacific?
  • But:
    • Kiribati has fairly low ranking on Human Development Index – only Solomon Islands and PNG are lower in the Pacific. Relatively low access to safe water and sanitation. Infant mortality rate and child mortality rate are third and fourth highest in Pacific.
    • Apparently no progress in reducing under-5 mortality rate between 2000 and 2005, and infant and maternal mortality rate worsened in the period.
    • Solomon Islands has one of the highest under-5 mortality rates in the Pacific. Ranks 134th (out of 179) in the world on the Human Development Index, between Laos and Myanmar. Only PNG and Timor Leste rank lower in Pacific, (but many Pacific countries lacking recent data).
    • Inequality statistics difficult to assess, but suggest that Solomon Islands has a Gini coefficient similar to that in the United States; moderate by world standards, but not a low inequality country.
    • Vanuatu ranks 79th in child mortality. Ranks 120th (out of 179) in the world on the Human Development Index.
    • Inequality statistics difficult to assess, but suggest that Vanuatu has a level of inequality a bit higher than the United States.
is there real poverty in the pacific10
Is there real poverty in the Pacific?
  • Other issues:
    • increasing urbanisation and cash poverty; poverty of opportunity
    • family fragmentation; deterioration of cultural/traditional systems
    • widening development gaps between urban and rural areas; rising urban poverty
    • persistent gender inequality; political instability
    • increasing vulnerability to natural disasters; unsustainable exploitation of marine and land resources, and
    • poor targeting of the resources to obtain better development and social outcomes
measuring poverty in pics
Measuring poverty in PICs
  • The indicator-based approach of the Global Poverty study is likely to be the most appropriate way of assessing disparities in Pacific countries at the present time.
  • Having said this, it is possible that the current global financial crisis and the rise in food prices in 2008 could have a significant impact on wellbeing in the Pacific, perhaps resulting in a greater prevalence of income or consumption poverty. It is therefore important to maintain flexibility in what indicators of disparities in wellbeing are collected, monitored and analysed.
assessing available statistics on child well being
Assessing available statistics on child well-being
  • Many of the required statistical data exist – particularly at the household survey level - or are in the process of being collected – Census data, Household Income and Expenditure Surveys (HIES), Demographic Health Surveys and Multi Indicator Cluster Surveys (MICS) – in Vanuatu so far.
  • Greatly improved education data through Education Management Information System (EMIS) in each country.
  • Range of health data exist, but appear to suffer from lower response rates from provincial/local sources.
  • Child protection-related data or similar statistics (orphans) may be inherently more difficult to collect.
  • BUT ...
assessing available statistics on child well being13
Assessing available statistics on child well-being
  • There are questions about the accuracy of data, e.g. “it is difficult to estimate non-attendance rates, but at the same time you see school-age children not at school when they should be”.
  • Time series are lacking – there are some past similar surveys, but not always.
  • Ten years is a long time between Censuses, particularly when population growth rates are high.
  • Some agencies produce inter-censal estimates, but these appear to be more likely to be kept within government.
  • Relatively speaking, there appears to be limited use of available data for policy purposes – except by international agencies and consultants.
  • Available data on children not always analysed in terms of children.
assessing available statistics on child well being14
Assessing available statistics on child well-being
  • There are further complicating factors:
    • Average household size is large, so presumably nearly all households contain children (also they are close to 50% of the population).
    • It may be that the presence of children is neutral in relation to economic wellbeing, whereas in richer countries they have higher expenditure “costs”, although families with children tend to be in higher earnings phase of the lifecycle.
    • Conventional equivalence scale assumptions – children are a “cost” – may be less appropriate in countries with high reliance on home production.
    • But we want this to change if children are to attend school! Also it is changing to some extent already.
    • Measuring what actually happens within the household or extended kin group is fraught with complexities - is the household the appropriate unit of analysis?
lessons to be learned
Lessons to be learned?
  • Disparities and child poverty should be assessed in multiple ways.
  • Vulnerability to poverty – people close to the poverty line – should be monitored.
  • Results should be “triangulated” or cross-checked.
  • It is also important to look at inequality
why is inequality important
Why is inequality important?
  • Inequality can have a range of sources
    • Disparities at the top of the income distribution
    • Disparities at the bottom
    • Lack of a middle class
    • Very high inequality countries have multiple peaks in their income distribution i.e. all of the above
child poverty in rich countries lessons to be learned
Child poverty in rich countries:Lessons to be learned?
  • Socially excluded groups are very similar in characteristics in rich and poor countries.
  • Lone parent families and jobless/unemployed families are generally much more likely to be poor than working families or couple families, but in most developed countries the majority of poor children live in working two-parent families.
  • The strongest predictor of child poverty is the general poverty rate.
  • There is very wide variation in the effectiveness of policies to reduce child poverty, but the countries who are least effective, don’t actually try very hard.
  • The countries that are most effective combine high female employment (with supportive services) and effective redistribution.
lessons to be learned18
Lessons to be learned?
  • Fiscal stimulus should be timely, temporary and targeted – but social protection should be sustainable and long-term, so new initiatives should be able to be built on for the future.
  • Can these be reconciled?
  • Can further social protection be built into the education and health care systems?
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