Welcome to the United Nations

Home > Action Areas > Investing in children and youth > Better data on child- and youth-focused spending

Better data on child- and youth-focused spending

Good data are crucial for monitoring progress and for ensuring continued commitment around key AAAA and SDG priorities for children and youth. A country’s budget in particular reflects how well political commitments are being translated into direct actions to benefit the most excluded children and youth. Improvements in data quality and availability need to be complemented by better coordination and planning between ministries of finance and relevant line ministries and agencies to improve coherence and impacts on the ground. 

At a time when policy and investment decisions are increasingly data driven, data on children and youth development and well-being often remains fragmented and inconsistent. This limits understanding of how young people are doing vis-à-vis other population groups and peers in other countries, and it helps explain why needs of young people often remain underexposed. Moreover, for youth, there is limited data available on the progress in meeting the diverse needs of specific youth groups, particularly the most marginalized. Global funding for youth organisations and youth movements is inadequate at providing the resources needed for youth civil society to survive and thrive and contribute to youth development.

The AAAA and SDG means of implementation indicators outlines several priorities to improve existing monitoring frameworks. Paragraph 126 of the AAAA and several SDG and MOI indicators highlight the need for better data that are disaggregated by sex, age, and other socio-economic categories. In the area of social protection, SDG indicator 1.3.1 is meant to distinguish children in the breakdown of the population covered by social protection systems. In education, governments committed to distinguish between the participation rate of youth in formal and non-formal education and training.

In many other cases more advanced methods are required. This applies in particular to multi-sectorial SDG priorities for children and youth that are not well captured by existing sectorial budgets, such as nutrition, early childhood development, child protection, and national youth strategies. High quality data, linking spending to results and again disaggregating by age and socio-economic characteristics, are also needed for determining which programmes and components have failed and which have succeeded in improving outcomes for the most vulnerable and most marginalized children and youth.

Moreover, new approaches and indicators are often required to track progress around emerging new priorities within sectors that already have established monitoring systems. For example in education recent investments have improved school attendance. But in many parts of the developing world, the quality of schooling is such that the children cannot fully achieve their potential in cognitive skills. Here new approaches and partnerships are needed to assess learning outcomes on the basis of international standards and to collecting comparable and detailed information for monitoring of education quality going forward.

Going forward governments and stakeholders can draw on several experiences to improve the monitoring of investments in areas of relevance to children and youth.

Examples include:

• Child-spending markers and taxonomies that assess and monitor the size and composition of public investments that benefit children and youth directly or indirectly, including in multi-sectoral SDG priorities such as nutrition, early childhood development, and child protection. Argentina, Colombia, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Haiti, Honduras, India, Mexico, Paraguay, Peru, Uganda and Yemen continue to use such tools, while others are currently being developed in Bangladesh, Bolivia, Jordan and Nicaragua. While to date no such markers exist for the youth sector, efforts could be undertaken to establish these and offer them to Member States.

• New reporting practices on child-focused spending and reforms established by signatories of the Convention of the Rights of Child (CRC). The Committee on the Rights of the Child has issued General Comment No. 19 in September 2016 to offer more detailed guidance on reporting practices under Article of 4 of the CRC. States that are party CRC are mandated to submit periodic reports every five years, which includes the allocation of resources for the realization of child rights under Article 4 of the CRC. The Committee on the Rights of the Child has published a general comment in 2016 with guidelines on CRC Article 4 reporting, which identifies States parties’ obligations and makes recommendations on how to realize all the rights under the Convention, especially those of children in vulnerable situations, through effective, efficient, equitable, transparent and sustainable public budget decision-making. Improved and compatible CRC Article 4 reporting could provide a valuable foundation for future FfD monitoring and follow-up. For examples of state parties report see submissions by the United Kingdom and Bangladesh.

• International data collection and harmonization efforts in several child and youth-related AAAA and SDG priority areas, such as under the Global Nutrition Report initiative, the Scaling Up Nutrition (SUN) Movement, new global alliances and partnerships on ECD and to end violence against children, and the Lancet Countdown to 2015 Initiative for tracking progress in maternal, newborn and child survival, the Global Financing Facility and H4+ technical partnership for the SG’s Every Woman, Every Child initiative.

• Public expenditure benefit incidence analysis, which capture the distribution of resources across different age groups and dimensions of well-being and can highlight their impact on the most disadvantaged children and families. Examples include equity-focused Public Expenditure Reviews (PERs) as well as innovative analyses like the Report on Equity of Public Expenditure on Children and Adolescence in Mexico carried out by UNICEF and UNDP.