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Newsletter: From Evidence to Action

Universal child benefits: The curious case of Mongolia

PAN Children came across this interesting blog by Bjorn Gelders of UNICEF on universal child benefits

Up to now, Mongolia has been famous for Genghis Khan, nomadic herders and grand wrestling competitions in the capital city of Ulaanbaatar. But, it can now add to its list of fame the developing world’s only universal child grant!

Worldwide, close to one in seven countries provide non-contributory child benefits on a universal basis, primarily being European and a few other OECD countries (see map below). This means that they give social security payments (or tax rebates) to all parents or guardians, regardless of income or employment status, to help cover the costs of raising children.

In the developing world, though, coverage of such benefits is much more restricted, usually to children with parents working in the formal sector or to those living in poor households. While a growing number of developing countries have introduced universal pensions for older people – with significant positive effects on poverty rates and welfare – the principle of universality is not yet widely embraced when it comes to child-focused schemes.

Mongolia is a rare exception. After a rocky start, its Child Money Programme (CMP) now offers unconditional cash transfers to all children under 18 years.

Read the whole blog