Article

Child well-being in Eastern Europe and Central Asia: a multidimensional approach

UNICEF Innocenti Research Centre, Innocenti Working Papers 01/2009;
Source: RePEc

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.

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    ABSTRACT: This paper examines changes in human development in Eastern Europe and the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) since 1990. Three main areas of human development in the region are discussed in detail: (i) changes in wage and income inequality; (ii) trends in mortality and life expectancy; and (iii) changes in political participation and empowerment. While all countries experienced declines in income, rising unemployment and increased inequality in the 1990s, by 2008 most countries had reached or surpassed their pre-transition levels of income per capita, and unemployment and inequality had declined or at least stabilized. Life expectancy declined sharply in the former Soviet Union in the 1990s and remains at low levels. In contrast, life expectancy across Eastern Europe has risen dramatically. Political trends have also diverged across the region, with most East European countries and the Baltics now considered to be reasonably well-functioning democracies, while a number of CIS countries have lost most of the gains in democratization achieved in the 1990s and turned toward authoritarianism.
    Human Development Report Office (HDRO), United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), Human Development Research Papers (2009 to present). 01/2010;

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