SUMMARY Reaching the last child: Evidence from Young Lives India

Poverty and inequality
Summative Output

This document is a summary of the Young Lives India Country Report Reaching the last child: Evidence from Young Lives India, highlighting the context in which this research was conducted, key findings, and implications for policy and practice. The full report is available here, detailing acknowledgements, photo credits and references. 

Young Lives, child poverty and lessons for the SDGs

The British Academy, 10-11 Carlton House Terrace, London SW1Y 5AH

This one-day conference is designed to create a vibrant and informative discussion among leaders from government, donor bodies and civil society who can share progress and advance collaboration on addressing challenges of child poverty, education, health and nutrition, especially across low- and middle-income countries.

The event combines keynote talks and panel discussions with a ‘World Café’ style interactive session that provides an exciting opportunity to share research and stimulate conversation with all participants. An outline of the day follows (and programme available here):

8:45-9:30          Registration

9:30-9:35          Welcome

Jo Boyden, Director, Young Lives

9:35-9:45          Opening remarks

Louise Richardson, Vice-Chancellor, Uni of Oxford

9:45-9:55          Introduction

Stefan Dercon, Professor of Economic Policy, Blavatnik School of Government

9:55-10:55        Panel: Child Development

Chair: Martin Woodhead, Associate Research Director, Young Lives

Speakers:

  • Rob Hughes, Senior Fellow, Early Child Development, Children’s Investment Fund Foundation (CIFF)
  • Andrew Dawes, Professor Emeritus, Cape Town University
  • Renu Singh, Country Director, Young Lives (India)

10:55-11:20      Break

11:20-12:20      Panel: Child Protection

Chair: Santiago Cueto, Country Director, Young Lives (Peru)

Speakers:

  • Tanya Barron, CEO, Plan International
  • Alula Pankhurst, Country Director, Young Lives (Ethiopia)
  • Cornelius Williams, Associate Director & Global Chief of Child Protection, UNICEF

12:20-12:30      Round-up remarks, and introduction to interactive discussions

12:30-13:20     Lunch

13:20-15:05      World Café

15:05-15:30      Break

15:30-15:40      Reflections from the World Café

Gordon Alexander, Young Lives International Advisory Board

15:40-16:00      Keynote

AK Shiva Kumar, Co-Chair, Know Violence in Childhood

16:00-16:10      Special Address

Harriett Baldwin, Minister of State, Department for International Development

16:10-17:20     Panel: Child Poverty

Chair: Helen Pearson, Chief Magazine Editor, Nature

Speakers:

  • Jo Boyden, Director, Young Lives
  • Rachel Glennerster, Chief Economist, Department for International Development (DFID)
  • Richard Morgan, Director, Child Poverty Global Theme, Save the Children

 17:20-17:30     Closing Remarks 

Donald Bundy, Professor of Epidemiology and Development, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine

17:30-18:30      Drinks reception 

 

PANEL DISCUSSIONS

1: Child Development – How can we provide food for life and effective education for all?

This discussion will draw together research and insight on nutrition, health and education – the three founding factors of children’s growth and cognitive development. Panellists will discuss such questions as:

  • How do we address the problems of under-nutrition and over-nutrition within the same contexts?
  • What is the association between child nutrition and growth on the one hand, and school performance and outcomes on the other?
  • How do schools contribute to children’s development and wellbeing, and how effective are they at supporting the most disadvantaged?
2: Child Protection – How do we best support young people in situations of adversity?

Combining the themes of work, violence and marriage, this discussion tackles the complex challenges involved in promoting the rights and well-being of all children to ensure no child is left behind. Questions for the panellists (including Tanya Barron, CEO of Plan International UK) will include:

  • How can we better understand the lived experiences of young people that motivate their daily decision-making as individuals, family members, siblings and in relation to their wider environment?
  • Are we making the right investments in policies and programmes to address gender disparities improve employment opportunities, promote healthy lives, and/or prevent exploitation and violence?
  • What does the evidence say about these issues?
3: Child Poverty – Tracing the consequences and changing the outcomes

The final panel discussion of the day will provide the big picture of research, policy, advocacy and action on childhood poverty. During the first two decades of the 21st century, children’s circumstances have improved across the countries where Young Lives research has taken place, but the poorest, rural children and children in minority groups are much more likely to experience the worst outcomes. In some contexts, social and economic disparities are becoming increasingly entrenched. Helen Pearson, Chief Editor of Nature and author will chair this session, based around the central question for panellists:

  • How can the research, policy and advocacy worlds come together to help break cycles of poverty and inequality and improve lives across generations?

WORLD CAFE

The World Café session format provides a dynamic and interactive experience that is designed to encourage all participants to engage in collaborative dialogue and contribute constructive possibilities for action on addressing childhood poverty.

We will hold several simultaneous discussion groups, which participants can rotate around during the course of this two-hour session. At least two experts will help prompt discussions in each group (or “meeting station”) by presenting their research and insights on the topic, and inviting feedback and comment from other participants. Group leaders will then share some of the key insights from discussions when we reconvene everyone together in the afternoon.

Sessions are based on the following topics:

  • Education
  • Nutrition
  • Gender and adolescence
  • Labour market transitions
  • Role of social protection in child development
  • Child protection (children's experiences of violence and of work)

The event will close with a drinks reception where attendees will be able to engage with interactive data visualisations, explore a themed photo exhibition, and take the opportunity to network and celebrate the work of Young Lives to date.

 

Beyond Monetary Poverty Analysis: The Dynamics of Multidimensional Child Poverty in Developing Countries old

Poverty and inequality
Journal Article

This article investigates transitions in monetary and multidimensional poverty using the 2006 and 2009 Young Lives surveys in Ethiopia, India, Peru, and Vietnam. While the headcount ratio in both measures of poverty decreases over time, author Hoolda Kim finds that there is only a small overlap between the groups in monetary and multidimensional poverty in either or both waves. Kim also notes that children remaining in monetary poverty are more likely to stay in multidimensional poverty. However, children escaping from monetary poverty do not always exit from multidimensional poverty. The results suggest the need to go beyond traditional monetary poverty indicators to understand and monitor poverty dynamics among children.

Access the article here.

Beyond Monetary Poverty Analysis: The Dynamics of Multidimensional Child Poverty in Developing Countries

Poverty and inequality
Journal Article

This article investigates transitions in monetary and multidimensional poverty using the 2006 and 2009 Young Lives surveys in Ethiopia, India, Peru, and Vietnam. While the headcount ratio in both measures of poverty decreases over time, author Hoolda Kim finds that there is only a small overlap between the groups in monetary and multidimensional poverty in either or both waves. Kim also notes that children remaining in monetary poverty are more likely to stay in multidimensional poverty. However, children escaping from monetary poverty do not always exit from multidimensional poverty. The results suggest the need to go beyond traditional monetary poverty indicators to understand and monitor poverty dynamics among children.

Access the article here.

Poverty and Intergenerational Change: Preliminary Findings from the Round 5 Survey in India

Poverty and inequality
Trajectories
Country report

Round 5 Longitudinal Poverty and Intergenerational Change Fact Sheet

This fact sheet presents findings from the fifth round of the Young Lives survey of children in United Andhra Pradesh in 2016. Young Lives is a longitudinal study on childhood poverty that has followed two cohorts of children born seven years apart. It has been collecting household and child-level survey data from 3,000 households in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana since 2002. This fact sheet presents preliminary findings on changes that have taken place in household poverty in urban and rural locations as well as in different caste groups. The analysis shows a definite increase in wealth – as measured by a composite index of consumer durables, access to services, and housing conditions – of the Younger Cohort households in 2016 compared to 2002 (Round 1 survey), with the highest percentage change in wealth over that period among Scheduled Tribes, households where mothers had no formal education, and households in rural locations. However, inequalities remain.

Key Findings:

  • Overall there is an increase in average wealth over time with the highest percentage change between Rounds 1 and 5 for Scheduled Tribes households.
  • While differences in household wealth based on location and caste have reduced over time, substantial inequalities persist between Other Castes on the one hand and Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes on the other.
  • The highest percentage change in access to services is seen among Scheduled Tribes, in rural households, and in households where mothers had no formal education.
  • The largest change is seen in the average access to consumer durables, particularly among Scheduled Tribes, Scheduled Castes, households from rural areas, and where mothers had no formal education.
  • By 2016, access to safe drinking water and electricity is near universal across all locations.
  • Only half of households have access to sanitation. Although there have been improvements since 2002, access to sanitation facilities remains at 30% among Scheduled Tribes compared to 55% for the other three caste groups, and 31% in rural areas compared to 95% in urban areas.
  • More households report vulnerability to economic shocks in 2016 than in 2006.

Household food group expenditure patterns are associated with child anthropometry at ages 5, 8 & 12 years in Ethiopia, India, Peru & Vietnam

Poverty and inequality
Nutrition
Journal Article

Population-level analysis of dietary influences on nutritional status is challenging in part due to limitations in dietary intake data. Household expenditure surveys, covering recent household expenditures and including key food groups, are routinely conducted in low- and middle-income countries. These data may help identify patterns of food expenditure that relate to child growth.

Objectives

We investigated the relationship between household food expenditures and child growth using factor analysis.

Methods

We used data on 6993 children from Ethiopia, India, Peru and Vietnam at ages 5, 8 and 12y from the Young Lives cohort. We compared associations between household food expenditures and child growth (height-for-age z scores, HAZ; body mass index-for-age z scores, BMI-Z) using total household food expenditures and the “household food group expenditure index” (HFGEI) extracted from household expenditures with factor analysis on the seven food groups in the child dietary diversity scale, controlling for total food expenditures, child dietary diversity, data collection round, rural/urban residence and child sex. We used the HFGEI to capture households’ allocations of their finances across food groups in the context of local food pricing, availability and preferences

Results

The HFGEI was associated with significant increases in child HAZ in Ethiopia (0.07), India (0.14), and Vietnam (0.07) after adjusting for all control variables. Total food expenditures remained significantly associated with increases in BMI-Z for India (0.15), Peru (0.11) and Vietnam (0.06) after adjusting for study round, HFGEI, dietary diversity, rural residence, and whether the child was female. Dietary diversity was inversely associated with BMI-Z in India and Peru. Mean dietary diversity increased from age 5y to 8y and decreased from age 8y to 12y in all countries.

Conclusion

Household food expenditure data provide insights into household food purchasing patterns that significantly predict HAZ and BMI-Z. Including food expenditure patterns data in analyses may yield important information about child nutritional status and linear growth.

Keywords

 Household food expenditures; Child growth; Weight gain; Longitudinal cohort study; Household food purchasing patterns

 

Download Household food group expenditure patterns are associated with child anthropometry at ages 5, 8 and 12 years in Ethiopia, India, Peru and Vietnam Debbie L. Humphries, Kirk A. Dearden, Benjamin T. Crookston, Tassew Woldehanna, Mary E. Penny, Jere R. Behrman.

Comparison of the Effects of Government and Private Preschool Education on the Developmental Outcomes of Children: Evidence From Young Lives India

Poverty and inequality
Early childhood development
School effectiveness
Early education
School systems (incl private schooling)
Working paper

Over the past two decades the importance given to preschool education as laying the foundation for lifelong learning and development has been increasingly recognised. India’s 12th Five-Year Plan (2012–17) has conceptualised the pre-primary and early primary sub-stages from 4 to 8 years old as an ‘integrated early learning unit’, to ensure a sound foundation for every child. With the expansion of private preschools, particularly in urban areas, even the poorest families are opting for low-fee private schools rather than free government services offered through the anganwadis (preschool centres). While evidence from developed countries exists that preschooling can have long-term beneficial effects on children, longitudinal evidence in India regarding the association of preschool education with later developmental outcomes is scarce. In light of this, this working paper draws upon Young Lives panel data to explore whether children who attended private preschools demonstrate higher cognitive skills and enhanced subjective well-being at the age of 12, compared to those who attended government preschools.

Using linear and logistic regression models, as well as propensity score matching techniques, the analysis revealed that children who attended private preschools have significantly higher mathematics scores and more positive subjective well-being than children who attended government preschools. However, there is no significant association of private preschools with higher PPVT scores. Another important finding is that entering preschool after the age of 4, is shown to have a significant negative association with both cognitive achievement, as demonstrated by mathematics and PPVT scores, and affective domain, as measured by subjective well-being at the age of 12. The propensity score matching reveals that children who had private preschool education scored nearly 10 times and 13 per cent higher in mathematics scores and subjective well-being respectively at the age of 12 than children whose preschool education was provided by the government.

Given that the recently enacted National Policy on Early Childhood Care and Education recognises early childhood education as the foundation for all future learning and as a sorely neglected area, it is clear that policymakers must prioritise early childhood education, and quality within preschools be closely monitored, to ensure that the most disadvantaged children have access to high-quality preschool education programmes.

Binary data, hierarchy of attributes, and multidimensional deprivation

Poverty and inequality
Journal Article

Empirical estimation of multidimensional deprivation measures has gained momentum in the last few years. Several existing measures assume that deprivation dimensions are cardinally measurable, when, in many instances, such data is not always available.

In this paper, the authors propose a class of deprivation measures when the only information available is whether an individual is deprived in an attribute or not. The framework is then extended to a setting in which the multiple dimensions are grouped as basic attributes that are of fundamental importance for an individual’s quality of life and non-basic attributes which are at a much lower level of importance. Empirical illustrations of the proposed measures are provided based on the estimation of multidimensional deprivation among children in Ethiopia, India, Peru and Vietnam.

 

Keywords

Binary data, Children, Deprivation, Hierarchy, Multiple dimensions, Poverty

Download the journal article Binary data, hierarchy of attributes, and multidimensional deprivation,

A longitudinal analysis of the Mahatma Gandhi National Employment Guarantee Act using a Multidimensional Poverty Index

Poverty and inequality
Student paper

The Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MNREGA) has been championed as one of the most successful attempts to provide a universal employment guarantee scheme in the form of a public work programme.

Institutionalized in 2005, it is now the largest public work programme in the world, providing employment for more than 55 million rural households across the Indian state. However, despite its scale and political success, its impact on poverty and destitution has not been well studied.

This paper attempts to study the longitudinal effects of the programme using a Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI) based on the Alkire-Foster’s methodology. The dataset used was provided by the Young Lives longitudinal study which has been collecting information on child wellbeing in the area of Andhra Pradesh since 2002 and which focuses its attention on two different cohorts of children: The Older cohort and the Younger cohort which will be studied separately.

The author has focussed analysis between the years 2006 and 2014. In order to assess the level of multidimensional deprivation in the population he used the Alkire-Foster’s methodology to construct a Multidimensional Poverty Index which comprises of three equally weighted dimensions divided in ten equally weighted indicators and used the following indicators: Education, Health and Living Standards.

The MPI shows clearly how households participating in the programme tend to have a decrease in Living Standard destitution of 12.8% for the Older cohort and of 8.4% for the Younger cohort.

In order to assess the treatment effect of the MGNREGA, the author performs a Difference-in- Difference for both cohorts. The analysis resulted in a cumulative treatment effect of 8.7% for the Older cohort and 2.4% for the Younger cohort. Finally, some policy recommendations are given in order to better estimate the impact of public work programmess on a multidimensional level in the future.

Breaking Out: Education and the Child in Poor Households

Poverty and inequality
Education
Student paper

School completion plays a crucial role in shaping the child’s future economic opportunities and social destiny. Moreover, children are deeply affected by their home environment and the social and economic disadvantages faced by families are bound to be passed onto the younger generations.

This paper investigates child and household factors that determine educational outcomes of children. Using cross-sectional and panel data analysis, enrolment and standard test scores of children in Andhra Pradesh (India) are analysed. The results from this study confirm the established positive effects of household wealth and parental education. Caste, ethnic and religious inequalities are also important determinants of educational outcomes. Amongst child characteristics, age, gender and innate ability have a significant impact on school enrolment and learning.