Child-Focused Public Expenditure Measurement: A Compendium of Country Initiatives

PF4C Working Paper No. 2

89 Pages Posted: 21 Feb 2016

See all articles by Matthew Cummins

Matthew Cummins

United Nations - United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF)

Date Written: February 18, 2016


This working paper surveys initiatives that involve child-focused public expenditure measurement (C-PEM), which is defined as the identification and routine reporting of public investments in children by government stakeholders. The study was based on a desk review of publicly available information along with interviews with select United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) country offices. The overall objective is to document relevant experiences and lessons to inform the development of a global methodological framework for C-PEM.

A key finding is that an increasing number of governments has taken deliberate efforts to measure and monitor their investments in children. Although initially taking root in Latin America, C-PEM initiatives are now observed across all regions and in very diverse country contexts. This momentum is likely to intensify. With children featuring prominently across the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) framework, coupled with the demographic growth occurring in many regions, governments will be increasingly concerned about the size and performance of their spending on children.

The growing demand for C-PEM means that developing a global methodology is a priority. This study shows that country level criteria and practices vary widely, as do the institutional contexts in which C-PEM operates. As a result, such a methodology should incorporate flexible design options so that it can be easily adapted to different levels of public financial management (PFM) capacity as well as different budget classification systems. At the same time, however, it will also be desirable to have a set of core definitions and indicators that allow for some degree of financial benchmarking of different thematic areas across countries.

Once operational, it is also important to maximize the potential impact of C-PEM. Some of the key emerging lessons include anchoring C-PEM to the right policy “hook,” embedding C-PEM within existing PFM processes and minimizing reporting time. As in many of the ongoing C-PEM initiatives, UNICEF can continue to play an important role to both introduce and improve its application. At the global level, UNICEF is leading efforts to develop a global methodology for C-PEM, which is being informed by these findings.

The annexes present 13 case studies, including: Argentina, Colombia, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, El Salvador, Honduras, India, Mexico, Peru, Uganda, Wales and Yemen.

Keywords: investing in children, public finance for children, budgets for children, social expenditures, public financial management

Suggested Citation

Cummins, Matthew, Child-Focused Public Expenditure Measurement: A Compendium of Country Initiatives (February 18, 2016). PF4C Working Paper No. 2, Available at SSRN: or

Matthew Cummins (Contact Author)

United Nations - United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) ( email )

PO Box 44145
Nairobi, Nairobi 00100

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