Exploring how universal child benefits can build a fairer, more inclusive and resilient future

Date: 19th November 2020
Category: Child poverty, Social security, COVID-19


The report calls upon governments, donors and other development partners around the world to urgently support an expansion in social protection coverage of children and their caregivers. The report provides examples to demonstrate that most countries can take steps towards establishing universal child benefits and that the costs of not doing so could be far higher.

The report sets out eight reasons why governments should consider universal child benefits, these include:

  1. To support every child’s right to social protection enshrined in Article 26 of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.
  2. Evidence of the economic benefits from ensuring no child is left behind.
  3. Other approaches – such as poverty-targeted social protection schemes - are far less effective and costlier to deliver.
  4. Universal benefits may make people more likely to contribute taxes for social protection by fostering a stronger ‘social contract’ between governments and citizens.
  5. Universal child benefits are an incentive to delay pregnancies and register births which enables governments to plan for and provide other services.
  6. Universal benefits are more likely to be sustainable as evidence indicates that donor-led and highly targeted social protection programmes achieve lower levels of support from the population.
  7. Targeting benefits can bring shame and stigma to children and families and reduce social cohesion.
  8. COVID-19 has hit incomes of all socio-economic groups and universal child benefits can help to reduce the impact.

Read the report in full here.