Impact of the Economic Crisis on Children: Conference Report

How does the economic crisis impact on child health, education, labor and family livelihoods?

This document outlines the discussions and recommendations of the “Impact of the Economic Crisis on Children in East Asia and the Pacific Islands” conference, convened by UNICEF. The conference dealt with the crisis and its impacts on child health, education, labour and family livelihoods and explored the best options for mounting a robust response.

It states that the key is to scale-up and expand social protection systems and build new ones where none currently exist. It argues that social protection systems can play an important role in combating recession. Therefore, expanding social protection systems can be an effective and integral part of economic stimulus and recovery programmes.

The authors warns that the consequences of not including social protection measures as a component of the crisis response can be severe. When households suffer loss of income, more children drop out of school, engage in child labour and suffer from malnutrition, stunting and other health issues.

They recommend making social protection systems universal in coverage – at least during the period of crisis. It shows that Asia-Pacific is the world’s most diverse region in terms of economic systems and levels of development, which means that there is no one solution applicable to all countries there. They show that conditional cash transfers to families have been effective in keeping children in school in some countries. Finally, the paper points to the prominent conclusion of the conference – investing in human capital is good business and the crucial role of good politics.

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