The Social Policy Research Institute was happy to provide technical support to the Central Statistical Agency of Ethiopia and UNICEF Ethiopia in conducting a study on the overlap between monetary and multidimensional child poverty in Ethiopia.
Monetary and multidimensional child poverty are complementary rather than substitute measures, with complex interlinkages, and both should be used in informing policies and programs aiming to enhance children’s wellbeing.
This study builds on the findings of the First National Estimates of Multidimensional Child Deprivation in Ethiopia, and is the first of its kind to provide an in-depth analysis on the disparities between multidimensional and monetary poverty among children, and the extent to which these experiences of poverty do and do not overlap. This analysis provides evidence to unpack the extent to which household financial means, as well as the availability and accessibility of public services, are related to children’s unmet needs in the sectors of nutrition, health, education, child protection, and water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH). The findings are presented to guide policy and programming that targets the fulfilment of children’s rights and needs.
The key findings of the study include the following:
- In Ethiopia, 36.5 million children under 18 or 89 percent are multidimensionally poor. A total of 12 million children under 18, or 29 percent, live in monetarily poor households with adult-equivalent consumption of less than Birr 7,184 per year. The poverty gap ratio shows that financial resources amounting to an average of 7 percent of the poverty line per capita are required to ensure that all individuals in Ethiopia are able to cover their basic needs for survival. Monetary poverty incidence is higher among children (29 percent) compared to the total population (21 percent)—and children constitute more than half (60 percent) of the poor.
- Nearly 28 percent of children in Ethiopia – more than 11 million children – are poor in terms of both monetary poverty and multidimensional deprivation. Monetary child poverty tends to overlap with a higher severity of multidimensional poverty. However, most non-poor and monetarily poor children are deprived of fulfilment of two basic services and rights.
- Monetary and multidimensional child poverty measures capture two separate phenomena. The relationship between monetary and multidimensional poverty is complex and may be influenced positively or negatively by several characteristics including parental education, main sources of household income, accessibility of public infrastructure and services, and geographical location. For example, the study finds that having a household head who completed at least eight years of education may secure a higher level of multidimensional wellbeing, even among children living in monetary poverty. Further research into the factors that influence this relationship is necessary to identify and tackle any structural bottlenecks and roadblocks to improvements in monetary and non-monetary wellbeing of children.
- Definitions of child poverty and child and household characteristics should be considered carefully when designing cash transfer or other programmes and scaling up the existing ones, especially in terms of beneficiary identification and intended coverage. Cash transfer programmes should be designed in a way that they can easily be scaled up during emergencies and crises, such as the COVID-19 pandemic.
- The scale, intensity and nature of poverty and deprivation across geographical areas suggest that there are wide disparities in fulfilment of children’s rights. Interventions and financing should adapt to the social realities of these variations. The scale of the poverty overlap between multidimensional and monetary child poverty varies across rural and urban areas. A total of 30 percent of children in rural areas but just 9 percent in large city areas are both multidimensionally and monetarily poor. In rural areas, three times more children than in large city areas are multidimensionally poor but not monetarily poor.
- Substantial investments in the sectors of education and healthcare are paramount for sustainable improvements and breaking the trend of intergenerational poverty. Literacy and higher levels of educational attainment of the mother and household head are positively associated with improved outcomes in health, education, nutrition, and protection of children, and negatively with multidimensional poverty and deprivation. Cultural and societal norms should be analysed in more depth to develop interventions aiming to improve child protection.