Is it time for universal child benefits?

Governments worldwide are relying on cash and tax transfers to households with children in response to the Covid-19 crisis, amid growing calls to strengthen and expand cash transfers and social protection. A recent UN SDG report states: 'It is particularly urgent to rollout or expand social assistance to families, preferably through the use of universal child benefits.'

Universal child benefits (UCBs) can play a critical role in reducing poverty and inequality while promoting social cohesion and public support for social protection. In countries with established UCBs, they constitute a cornerstone of national social policy systems and have proved effective in scaling up social protection in times of crisis.

Drawing on recent country experience and on new policy analysis, this live digital event discusses key issues and emerging lessons concerning the challenges and trade-offs policymakers face when introducing or expanding a child benefit; the administrative and political economy implications of universal versus narrowly targeted approaches; policy financing options; and the effectiveness of alternative child benefits, including in crisis contexts.


Ariunzaya Ayush @ariunzaya_a – Minister of Labour and Social Protection, Government of Mongolia

Hon. Lindiwe Zulu – Minister for Social Development, Government of South Africa

H.E. Juti Krairiksh – Minister of Social Development and Human Security, Government of Thailand

Francesca Bastagli @FraBastagli – Director, Equity and Social Policy, and Principal Research Fellow, ODI

Martin Ravallion @MartinRavallion – Edmond D. Villani Professor of Economics, Georgetown University

The webinar marks the launch of an ODI-UNICEF report on universal child benefits.