The KidsRights Index is based on five domains: the right to  life,  health,  education,  protection and  the enabling environment for child rights. Domain 1 to 4 are based on the quantitative data published and regularly updated by UNICEF. Domain 5, the ‘Enabling Environment for Child Rights’ – or Child Rights Environment in short reveals the extent to which countries have operationalized the general principles of the CRC (non-discrimination; best interests of the child; respect for the views of the child/participation) and the extent to which there is a basic ‘infrastructure’ for child rights policy, in the form of enabling national legislation; mobilization of the ‘best available’ budget; collection and analysis of disaggregated data; and state-civil society cooperation for child rights).
The scores on Domain 5 are derived from the Concluding Observations adopted by the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child. These Concluding Observations finish off the state reporting procedure under the Convention on the Rights of the Child and represent the Committee’s views on the level of realization of children’s rights in a particular country. The KidsRights Index reflects the latest Concluding Observations available in the year proceeding the publication of the Index.
In line with UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child takes into account the development level and/or implementation capacity of those states parties. The Concluding Observations, and thus also the findings of the KidsRights Index in Domain 5, are therefore relative to the country’s situation.
For example, according to article 4 of the CRC, states have to mobilize ‘the maximum extent of their available resources’. This may have different actual implications for some states as compared to others. For example, a highly developed country can be expected to mobilize more resources than a least developed country. Accordingly, in situations in which relatively limited means are available to implement the CRC, political will to genuinely prioritize children’s rights by allocating the maximum/best available budget can make a significant difference. Likewise, well-resourced countries might nevertheless have failed to adequately address discrimination of children or may not have been active on gathering disaggregated data on the situation of (particular groups of) children in that country.
Also, the CRC Committee tends to assess a state more strictly over time, for example because previous Concluding Observations were not acted upon.
In total, the KidsRights Index includes 13 quantitative and 7 qualitative indicators which, insofar as they are available, are systematically and similarly rated for all countries. The KidsRights Index also signals whether data are missing. These five domains cover as many aspects of children’s rights as possible for which reliable and comparable data is available. The KidsRights Index is a combination of quantitative and qualitative indicators that measure quantifiable indicators, the right to education and the right to life, as well as the more qualitative indicators, such as non-discrimination and child participation.
In total, the KidsRights Index includes 13 quantitative and 7 qualitative indicators which, insofar as they are available, are systematically and similarly rated for all countries.
- Under 5 mortality
- Life expectancy at birth
- Maternal mortality rate
- % under 5 year olds suffering from underweight
- Immunization of 1 year old children
- % of population using improved sanitation facilities (urban and rural)
- % of population using improved drinking water sources (urban and rural)
- Expected years of schooling girls
- Expected years of schooling boys
- Gender inequality in expected years of schooling (absolute difference between boys and girls)
- Child labour
- Adolescent birth rate
- Birth registration
Enabling Environment for Child Rights
- Best interests of the child
- Respect for the views of the child/child participation
- Enabling legislation
- Best available budget
- Collection and analysis of disaggregate data
- State-civil society cooperation for child rights
Definitions of the indicators can be downloaded below.
The KidsRights Index 2020 Indicators
A country’s total score on the KidsRights Index (T) has been calculated as the geometric average of the scores of the five domains. Each domain has the same weight. The scores for each domain are calculated as the average value of the indicators. All indicators have been standardized using a linear scaling technique:
where is the score on indicator i of country j, and Max and Min represent the maximum and minimum scores on this indicator. This scaling technique ensures that the score for each indicator ranges between 0 and 1. All indicators were coded positively. This means that a higher score for each indicator can be associated with a positive contribution to the rights of children.
As of 2016 the KidsRights Index took an improved approach when dealing with missing values. The score for a domain is not calculated if more than half of the indicators of that domain have a missing value. A country is not included in the overall Index if the score on domain 5 ‘Child Rights Environment’ is missing. A country is also not included if more than half of the domain scores are missing (e.g. when three or more domains are missing).
The advantage of this new approach is that the scores for the domains and the total Index are now completely based on the most recent available data (there are no imputations of missing values based on historical data). Moreover, the restrictions on calculating the domain scores and the overall score make sure that these scores are based on a substantial number of indicators. In the previous versions of the KidsRights Index, the score of countries with many missing values could be based on just a small number of indicators, and therefore be sensitive for very high or low scoring based on a few indicators.
For domain 5, the information derived from the qualitative Concluding Observations was initially scored on a scale between 1 and 3. Assignment of the actual score to each sub-indicator was based on the language used by the CRC Committee in the Concluding Observations: predominantly negative language = 1, a combination of positive and negative language = 2, predominantly positive language = 3. The resulting final scores have also been standardized by using the above mentioned linear scaling technique.
The index is a ranked country list, with colour-coding indicating relevant clusters of rankings. There are five different clusters which display a more or less similar performance level, as each cluster concerns countries for which the scores belong to the same distribution. Within a cluster the scores of countries are thus more similar then across clusters. The clusters are expressed in coloured world maps.
If a country ranks 16-31 for example, it means that a country shares a rank with several countries that received the exact same score. Only when scores are different a country can be ranked individually.