Article

Demographic challenges and the implications for children in CEE/CIS

UNICEF Innocenti Research Centre, Innocenti Working Papers 01/2007;
Source: RePEc

ABSTRACT The paper discusses some of the implications of recent demographic changes in the CEE/CIS on children of the region. The first part of the paper documents the striking changes in population size and structures which have occurred since the beginning of transition, and which have led to a substantial reduction in the child population. It is argued that they have been mainly driven by the drop in birth rates which has characterised the whole region, but which has been most dramatic in the CEE and Western CIS. Some countries in these subregions now rank among those with the lowest levels of fertility in the world, and the shrinking cohorts of children in these countries face the prospect of a growing old-age dependency burden. The second part of the paper discusses recent data on infant and under-five mortality, which are direct measures of child wellbeing and of the success of policy measures aimed at improving child survival and development. The paper highlights the marked differences not only in levels, but also in progress in reducing mortality rates across the CEE/CIS. Whereas some countries of Central Europe have made impressive progress during the past decade and now rank among those with the lowest levels of infant mortality in the world, the high levels and slow rates of reduction in the Caucasus and Central Asian countries are a matter for concern. The paper also draws attention to the substantial monitoring challenges which still exist in estimating and tracking infant and child mortality, particularly in these latter two subregions, despite the recent official adoption of the internationally recommended definition of ‘live births’. Official estimates based on civil registry records lead to an underestimation of the scale of the child survival problem and detract policy attention from the urgent need to improve the quality of pre and post natal care, mainly through incentives and training for medical staff. Without improvements in monitoring, it will be

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    ABSTRACT: After two decades of transition the countries of Central and Eastern Europe and the Commonwealth of Independent States face an increasingly diverse mix of old and new policy challenges to improving child well-being and realizing children’s rights. While attempts have been made to reflect these challenges and diversities by constructing indices of child wellbeing, which measure and rank overall performance by individual countries, this paper proposes a simplified approach which examines five different dimensions of child wellbeing separately, using several indicators for each dimension which allow cross-country comparison. The dimensions included in the analysis are income, health, education, housing and deprivation of parental up-bringing. The results highlight a divergence of child well-being priorities in the selected dimensions for the different countries and for different age groups of children. The analysis shows that in the 2000-2008 period the situation of children improved in absolute terms in almost all dimensions in all countries, but that government interventions still face difficulties in reaching all children, and that across the region there are increasing differences in the character of problems facing the more vulnerable sections of the child population. The discussion shows that it is difficult to rank countries according to an overall level of child well-being, since performance varies significantly according to the choice of dimension or indicator considered. An overall index cannot therefore capture the open challenges, and indeed may distract policy attention away from them. The approach used in this paper shows that each country faces challenges which can be tackled only if they are monitored and fully understood with clear and meaningful indicators, analyzed individually and in their interaction.
    UNICEF Innocenti Research Centre, Innocenti Working Papers. 01/2009;

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