Child Well-being in Eastern Europe and Central Asia: A multidimensional approach
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 well-being which measure and rank overall performance by individual countries, this paper proposes a simplified approach which examines five different dimensions of child well-being separately, using several indicators for each dimension that 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.
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