Abstract: Governance and Child Well-Being: Evidence from Low-to-Middle-Income Countries (Society for Social Work and Research 28th Annual Conference - Recentering & Democratizing Knowledge: The Next 30 Years of Social Work Science)

All in-person and virtual presentations are in Eastern Standard Time Zone (EST).

SSWR 2024 Poster Gallery: as a registered in-person and virtual attendee, you have access to the virtual Poster Gallery which includes only the posters that elected to present virtually. The rest of the posters are presented in-person in the Poster/Exhibit Hall located in Marquis BR Salon 6, ML 2. The access to the Poster Gallery will be available via the virtual conference platform the week of January 11. You will receive an email with instructions how to access the virtual conference platform.

Governance and Child Well-Being: Evidence from Low-to-Middle-Income Countries

Friday, January 12, 2024
Marquis BR Salon 12, ML 2 (Marriott Marquis Washington DC)
* noted as presenting author
Aytakin Huseynli, PhD, Postdoctoral Scholar, Washington University in St. Louis, St. Louis, MO
Background and purpose: Almost 90% of children live in 154 low-and-middle-income countries (LMICs). These countries signed and ratified the Child Rights Convention of the United Nations and are committed to enhancing children's well-being through child-friendly policies and services. However, data shows that the progress has been slow. Scholars have asked how good governance affects child well-being in LMICs. Improvement in the quality of governance is essential for the growth and development of countries. The United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 3 (SDG3) focuses on ensuring good health and well-being for all, and Goal 16 (SDG16) focuses on attaining good governance by 2030. Informed by the resource curse conceptual framework, this study examined the effect of good governance on child well-being in LMICs.

Methods: The study compiled country-level, secondary panel data from 137 LMICs between 2002 and 2019 generated by UN organizations, including the World Bank. The dependent variable was child well-being, measured by the neonatal, infant, under-5 mortality, stunting, overweight, and primary school enrollment rates. The independent variable was good governance, measured by worldwide governance indicators such as democracy, governance effectiveness, corruption control, the rule of law, and regularity quality. The mixed-effects linear regression model was used to test the relationship between the dependent and independent variables, controlling for other factors.

Results: Child well-being was significantly related to a country's level of democracy, control of corruption, and the effectiveness of governance. A 1% increase in democracy score increased the child well-being score by 8.3% (b=.083, SE=0.33, z=6.96, p<0.000). A 1% increase in control of corruption score predicted a 12% increase in child well-being (b=.120, SE=0.11, z=1.05, p<0.020). Finally, a 1% increase in government effectiveness predicted an 11% increase in child well-being (b=.110, SE=0.11, z=1.02, p<0.023).

Conclusions and Implications: LMICs committed to attaining SDG3 and improving the well-being of children should focus on good governance (SDG16), improving democracy, controlling corruption, and enhancing government effectiveness. Social workers may advocate for improving civic engagement, policy transparency, and allocating financial resources for child well-being.