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Amber Peterman

Social Policy Specialist

Amber Peterman, Ph.D. joined UNICEF Office of Research – Innocenti in 2015 and focuses on adolescent wellbeing and safe transitions to adulthood. Amber brings significant experience in large-scale surveys and impact evaluation in Africa, Latin America, the Middle East and Asia. With a background as a quantitative public health researcher, Amber is interested providing policy-relevant evidence related to the intersection between gender, health and human rights. Amber previously worked as an Assistant Professor at UNC Chapel Hill and as a Research Fellow at the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) in Washington DC., Kampala and Dakar. Amber obtained her PhD in Public Policy with focus on international maternal and child health from UNC Chapel Hill.
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In this paper we summarize evidence on six perceptions associated with cash transfer programming, using eight rigorous evaluations conducted on large-scale government unconditional cash transfers in sub-Saharan Africa, under the Transfer Project. Specifically, we investigate if transfers: 1) induce higher spending on alcohol or tobacco; 2) are fully consumed (rather than invested); 3) create dependency (reduce participation in productive activities); 4) increase fertility; 5) lead to negative community-level economic impacts (including price distortion and inflation), and 6) are fiscally unsustainable. We present evidence refuting each claim, leading to the conclusion that these perceptions – insofar as they are utilized in policy debates – undercut potential improvements in well-being and livelihood strengthening among the poor, which these programmes can bring about in sub-Saharan Africa, and globally. We conclude by underscoring outstanding research gaps and policy implications for the continued expansion of unconditional cash transfers in the region and beyond.


Sudhanshu Handa; Silvio Daidone; Amber Peterman; Benjamin Davis; Audrey Pereira; Tia Palermo; Jennifer Yablonski
This Brief summarizes the proceedings of the Know Violence Roundtable examining the evidence on the role of social protection in reducing childhood violence hosted by UNICEF Office of Research – Innocenti, 12-13 May, 2016.


Sarah Cook; Naomi Neijhoft; Tia Palermo; Amber Peterman


Is there catch-up growth? Evidence from three continents (2015)

Sudhanshu Handa, Amber Peterman
Oxford Bulletin of Economics and Statistics, vol. 78 (4) , pp. 470-500.

Impact of the Kenya Cash Transfer for Orphans and Vulnerable Children on Early Pregnancy and Marriage of Adolescent Girls (2015)

Sudhanshu Handa, Amber Peterman, C. Huang, C. Halpern, A. Pettifor, H. Thirumurthy
Social Science & Medicine, vol. 141 , pp. 36-45.


Cash transfers: What’s gender got to do with it? (13 May 2016)

UNICEF works on social protection programs in over 100 countries, and many are expanding rapidly. In discussions with stakeholders, there ar ...


Adolescent wellbeing

A four year programme on social and structural determinants of adolescent wellbeing in low and middle income countries.

Social protection - cash transfers

A multi-country research initiative to provide rigorous evidence on the impact of large-scale national cash transfer programmes.