Welcome to the United Nations

Home > Action Areas > Investing in children and youth > Domestic resources

Domestic resources

The effectiveness of the FfD monitoring process for child- and youth-focused investments under paras 7, 16, and 12 depends heavily on progress under the AAAA’s parallel commitments to improve the availability of age-disaggregated data (para 126). Under current reporting practices, most government budgets are organized by sector and functional area, but do not routinely report how much of public expenditure directly addresses the needs of children and youth (see below). Other new priority areas for children under the SDGs, like child protection, social protection, nutrition, youth and adolescents, or WASH, cut across multiple sectors or ministries and require separate reporting mechanisms for effective monitoring. More disaggregated budget information will also be needed to better understand how expenditure translate into results on the ground and to ensure that resources are well managed and reach the most disadvantaged children and youth.

This section draws on national spending on health, education, and social protection (especially child and family benefits), as a proxy for domestic resource mobilization for child- and youth-focused purposes. Data are generally for the time period 2000-2013 and therefore do not yet account for the effects of the recent decline in commodity prices and the growth slowdown in some emerging economies. Below, additional recommendations developed as part of the monitoring of child rights-related expenditures under the Convention of the Rights of the Child (CRC) are discussed. However, these practices are not yet standardized across countries.

Even with the limited information available it is possible to identify several general trends in governments’ commitments to investing in child and youth. The first concerns the very significant differences in the capacity of countries to fulfil their commitments to children and youth under the AAAA. For social protection, specific child and family benefit programmes rooted in legislation exist in 108 countries, yet often cover only small groups of the population. In 75 countries, no such programmes are available at all. On average, OECD countries spend $802.05 per capita a year in social protection for children in PPP 2011 terms, compared to only $23.89 by developing countries according to latest data (calculated based on data from ILO, World Social Protection Report 2014/2015).

Data also reveal considerable divergence in health and education spending. Government spending has improved in both sectors in lower middle income countries and middle income countries that recently graduated from low to middle income status. However, the rate of growth of these two groups has been much slower than in Upper Middle and non-OECD High Income Countries (see Figure 4). Barring major improvements in spending and the effectiveness of service delivery it is unlikely that low income countries will be able to achieve major SDG and AAAA commitments towards basic service provision by 2030 (see for example the 2016 Report by the International Commission on Financing Global Education Opportunity).

The second, more positive, trend is the relative resilience of child-focused spending during the 2008/9 financial crisis. In the EU, per capita spending on family and child-related benefits remained on a positive trend during the crisis years in most countries (Figure 3). However, separate research indicates that the increase in spending was not sufficient to mitigate the crisis impacts on child poverty. EU-wide averages also hide significant decreases in child focused spending under austerity in some member states (UNICEF 2014). The share of child-focused spending in total social protection budgets decreased moderately, although children may have benefited indirectly from increases in other social assistance programmes, such as unemployment benefits. Although still at very low levels, the social protection expenditure for children in developing countries also proved resilient during the financial crisis (Figure 2). The exception are non-OECD HICS, where social spending decreased in real per capita terms. However, as noted above, most of the available data are from before 2014, so they do not reflect possible impacts of the commodity price shock and slower growth in many emerging economies.