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Including Children in Policy Responses to Economic Crisis : Lessons from Past Policies for a Sustainable Future.

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Presentation on theme: "Including Children in Policy Responses to Economic Crisis : Lessons from Past Policies for a Sustainable Future."— Presentation transcript:

1 Including Children in Policy Responses to Economic Crisis : Lessons from Past Policies for a Sustainable Future

2 Intent of paper Unpacking some of the factors that make a difference in whether and how resumption of social progress is achievable Identifying whether children can meanwhile be protected. Proposing that we can do more about it than is currently being done through conventional child oriented policy Suggesting that we are obliged to tackle this problem by engaging with the debates on economic crisis and recommending how.

3 in the majority of policy contexts child wellbeing is for the most part treated as a benign issue, with children remaining largely politically invisible and discussion of their interests on the whole confined to sector- specific and welfare-oriented debates.

4 Progress on child wellbeing, is not inevitable, even with economic growth In many developed countries, child poverty rates remain worryingly high, especially considering their levels of economic prosperity. Take the USA. In 1979 child poverty stood at 16.2%, reached a peak of 22% in 1993 and was still 18% in 2007 (NCCP) Child poverty is: multi-dimensional, dynamic over the life-course, dependent on relationships and subject to a particular depth of voicelessness

5 Retrospective Studies Asian Financial Crisis of 1997–1998 (the impacts of which on household poverty have been extensively studied); The experience of transition in former Soviet Republics in the early 1990s; Currency crises in Mexico (1995) and Argentina (2002); African experiences with agricultural and oil price fluctuations.

6 Predictions for current crisis: approximately 30,000–50,000 excess infant deaths in Africa in 2009 and especially girls. FAO (2009) projects that undernourishment will grow by 8% in LAC In Asia if unaddressed (UNICEF): increases in rates of maternal anaemia by 10%–20% and prevalence of low birth weight by 5%–10%, while rates of childhood stunting could increase by 3%–7% and wasting by 8%–16%.

7 Trends in undernourishment and projections for 2009

8 Effect on undernourishment

9 Primary school completion and child mortality

10 Mexico – infant mortality increased from 5-7% 1995-6 (fell again after 1997) Ethiopia – increase in cereal prices of 25% - increases child malnutrition by 3-4% Demographic health surveys in 59 countries highlight negative association between changes in GDP and infant mortality Poorer CIS countries - basic school enrolment rates declined 10% to 15% in early 1990s - Seven countries still at risk of not meeting MDG 1 in Kazakhstan, pre-school enrollment fell from over 50% to 12%, from best in central Asia or the Caucasus to among the worst Increases in proportion of young children left home alone across regions Increased participation in work force in Mexico In East Asia numbers of children living on the streets increased in Indonesia and Thailand – at risk re sex work, drug use and crime (ADB, 2006; Knowles et al., 1999; Suharto, 2007). Increase in child abandonment and numbers of children taken into care in all four countries (ADB, 2000; Kim, 2004).

11 But Some Children Protected In East Asia child mortality rates protected and downward trends in child malnutrition continued Impacts on education in Latin America - minimal. Mexico - school attendance rates for children of both sexes were unchanged and increased for some age groups. Both male and female children aged 15–18 had higher school attendance rates in 1996 than in 1994. People protected education consumption and State did to an extent.

12 Financial Crisis - General Exchange Rates Rising unemployment, under-employment, declining working conditions Declining investment in public services (education, health, nutrition, water and sanitation, housing, protection, care) Intra-household dynamics & household composition Child-specific vulnerabilities Deprivations of rights to survival, development, protection, participation Declining social capital; rising social violence Household management of assets and investments Household consumption (food and services, both quantity and quality) Household labour allocation Reproduction, nurture, and care Policy responses (Fiscal stimulus, trade policy, monetary policy, aid policy pre-existing and crisis-response investment in basic services, pre-existing social protection infrastructure and crisis-specific measures, labour policy) Protection (physical and emotional) & promotion of well-being Fiscal space Contribution to community life Political economy dynamics General regional and international macro- economic health Remittances Financial flows Trade and prices (commodities and services) Aid Dimensions of the macro- economic environment Functions of the household Reduced access to credit Civil society policy advocacy + service provision Policy responses Meso-level effects of the financial crisis General regional and international macro- economic health

13 Trade level by sector Source: World Bank (2009)

14 Remittance flows - LA

15 Financial Crisis - General Exchange Rates Rising unemployment, under-employment, declining working conditions Declining investment in public services (education, health, nutrition, water and sanitation, housing, protection, care) Intra-household dynamics & household composition Child-specific vulnerabilities Deprivations of rights to survival, development, protection, participation Declining social capital; rising social violence Household management of assets and investments Household consumption (food and services, both quantity and quality) Household labour allocation Reproduction, nurture, and care Policy responses (Fiscal stimulus, trade policy, monetary policy, aid policy pre-existing and crisis-response investment in basic services, pre-existing social protection infrastructure and crisis-specific measures, labour policy) Protection (physical and emotional) & promotion of well-being Fiscal space Contribution to community life Political economy dynamics General regional and international macro- economic health Remittances Financial flows Trade and prices (commodities and services) Aid Dimensions of the macro- economic environment Functions of the household Reduced access to credit Civil society policy advocacy + service provision Policy responses Meso-level effects of the financial crisis General regional and international macro- economic health

16 Unemployment Current Crisis: ILO predicts unemployment could rise to 8.5% in 2009 with an additional 28 million more vulnerable jobs in Africa alone. Effects on export industries in the first instance Bangladesh, China, Vietnam to name a few.

17 Characteristics of unemployment In all regions, unemployment rose, often significantly and patterned by age, gender, ethnicity and location: Indonesia from 1.5% in 1996 – 5.6% in 1998 Argentina – 12.5% rise in unemployment in 2000 womens greater employment in flexible and casual labour, specific affected sectors and their reproductive work made them more vulnerable in Korea there were particularly high levels of job losses in clerical work (-18.4%) In Kyrgyzstan, the unemployment rate among women in the mid 2000s was one and a half times that of men

18 Unemployment Characteristics Young people very much affected: In Thailand - persons aged below 30 (one-third of the labour force) accounted for 60% of the increase in unemployment, whereas those over 50 experienced little increase in unemployment In 2003, urban young people aged under 30 made up 13% of Kyrgyzstans total labor force, but one-quarter of all unemployed people Youth unemployment rates in CIS region are (2006) 31%, and a relaxed definition, including discouraged youth, 41% Mean age of first birth is 22–23 years in Russia – implications for childrens early years in poverty Other specific characteristics: rise in informal sector employment; spatial effects, labour migration Much of this in a context where there was a drop in value of real wages, inflation and steep food or other commodity price hikes

19 Unemployment forecasts for select MENA countries

20 Financial Crisis - General Exchange Rates Rising unemployment, under-employment, declining working conditions Declining investment in public services (education, health, nutrition, water and sanitation, housing, protection, care) Intra-household dynamics & household composition Child-specific vulnerabilities Deprivations of rights to survival, development, protection, participation Declining social capital; rising social violence Household management of assets and investments Household consumption (food and services, both quantity and quality) Household labour allocation Reproduction, nurture, and care Policy responses (Fiscal stimulus, trade policy, monetary policy, aid policy pre-existing and crisis-response investment in basic services, pre-existing social protection infrastructure and crisis-specific measures, labour policy) Protection (physical and emotional) & promotion of well-being Fiscal space Contribution to community life Political economy dynamics General regional and international macro- economic health Remittances Financial flows Trade and prices (commodities and services) Aid Dimensions of the macro- economic environment Functions of the household Reduced access to credit Civil society policy advocacy + service provision Policy responses Meso-level effects of the financial crisis General regional and international macro- economic health

21 Political Economy Dynamics These shaped the reform process – both how deep the crisis was felt and how quickly and effectively governments were able to respond. Malaysia – rejected austerity programme and continued to invest in social services with positive effects. Mexico – creative leadership made links between equity and growth and garnered support to introduce new strategies with crisis as motivation - Progresa/Oportunidades Argentina - progressive social forces included a range of society- based actors. New measures significantly influenced by participatory government-sponsored consultations Mesa de Diálogo Civil society activity in Korea, Indonesia, Thailand and Argentina helped shape policy responses

22 Turning crisis to opportunity Civil society and social movements clearly had an important role Even in less conducive environments In transition countries near universal child benefits decimated – but pension benefits rose in many countries during the same period Attributed to the relative political weakness of child rights advocates as compared with pensioner groups

23 Social Protection and Aid International bailout loan packages – important to immediate crisis response Aid policies played a key role in facilitating targeted social protection programmes –Development programme for the poorest - Malaysia – World Bank –Social impact mitigation programme in Thailand – World Bank, ADB, Miyazawa plan –Indonesia – social protection development programme -ADB –Mexico – Aid grew from 96.55 million in 1989 – 424 million in 1994 – including support to social safety nets –Kyrgyzstan a model for comprehensive dev framework, PRSPs and rewarded with significant aid flows Less attention paid to child specific social protection measures

24 Basic services and/or social protection A clear cleavage in crisis response debates is investment in basic services – pro or counter cyclical? Also significant tensions in between cutting social expenditure on basic services and increasing that on targeted social protection –In Thailand there were significant cutbacks – reproductive and preventative healthcare (including HIV prevention and education) –Indonesia health sector spending declined by 9% and 13% (97/8 and 98/9) –At the same time social protection measures introduced – also with help of donors –Mexico and Argentina focused on targeted social protection and attempted to maintain basic services with help from World Bank Where both can be maintained there are significantly fewer social impacts

25 Current crisis – protecting services The extent to which investments in basic services are being protected varies considerably across regions –SSA – AfDB warns spending on basic needs threatened –Nigeria – 16% cut in education and 20 % in health –MENA and Kazakhstan – no indication of increasing spend in response to crisis induced vulnerabilities (in both despite previous strong economic growth basic needs spend low) By Contrast: –Thailand - Health budget protected through a special act –China $123 billion package introduced –Chile – counter-cyclical fiscal policy – 7.8% increase in social spending –Costa Rica – spend on housing and education increased Social protection - although improved since last crisis - responses so far limited –Some exceptions – Kazakhstan, Mexico, Bolivia among others

26 Attention to social protection remains one of the key features of successful policy responses – but we can and should do much more with our social protection packages:

27 Financial Crisis - General Exchange Rates Rising unemployment, under-employment, declining working conditions Declining investment in public services (education, health, nutrition, water and sanitation, housing, protection, care) Intra-household dynamics & household composition Child-specific vulnerabilities Deprivations of rights to survival, development, protection, participation Declining social capital; rising social violence Household management of assets and investments Household consumption (food and services, both quantity and quality) Household labour allocation Reproduction, nurture, and care Policy responses (Fiscal stimulus, trade policy, monetary policy, aid policy pre-existing and crisis-response investment in basic services, pre-existing social protection infrastructure and crisis-specific measures, labour policy) Protection (physical and emotional) & promotion of well-being Fiscal space Contribution to community life Political economy dynamics General regional and international macro- economic health Remittances Financial flows Trade and prices (commodities and services) Aid Dimensions of the macro- economic environment Functions of the household Reduced access to credit Civil society policy advocacy + service provision Policy responses Meso-level effects of the financial crisis General regional and international macro- economic health

28 Micro impacts Gender relations change – a shift in the locus of power Migrants are returning home – some unemployed Increased unemployment in general Men and women are taking on two or more jobs Some women are taking on paid work for the first time Children are left home alone or are neglected In some cases children are working and some are withdrawn from school Mental ill health is on the increase Domestic tension and violence increases Community capacity to nurture and protect is compromised

29 Social Protection – education, health and nutrition Pre-existing social protection systems and tailored crisis- specific responses - decisive in mitigating impacts on childrens educational, health and nutritional outcomes. –Scholarship programmes and social health insurance initiatives in East Asia, –Cash transfers in Latin America and –Public works in Latin America and Africa BUT limited attention to child protection and care: –Despite rises in intra-household tensions and violence no increased investment in related social services –Shockingly limited response to rising rates of mental ill-health and drug and substance abuse in East Asia and transition country contexts –Despite starkly gendered effects of unemployment, under-employment and household poverty no measures to: address womens time poverty support womens greater responsibility for care and domestic work, for instance through subsidised childcare services

30 Social Protection decisive in mitigating impacts but neglects child protection, nurture and care

31 Political economy dimensions Aid – linked to social protection Counter-cyclical investment in social services Social protection linked to child protection, nurture and care Data – timely, systematic, age and gender disaggregated

32 Safeguarding and progressing childrens rights Mainstreaming children into economic crisis responses


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