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Tia Palermo

Sr. Social Policy Specialist

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Tia Palermo is a Social Policy Specialist and oversees projects relating to social protection and equity in low- and middle-income countries focusing on cash transfers and impact evaluations of interventions to combat poverty and exclusion of children. As part of the Transfer Project, her work examines the ability of social policy to improve outcomes among children and adolescents, including those related to schooling, sexual behaviour, mental health, and violence. She joined UNICEF Office of Research – Innocenti in 2014 and has published extensively on topics related to social policy, adolescent well-being, transitions to adulthood, and violence and holds a Ph.D. in Public Policy.
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PUBLICATIONS

The broad-ranging benefits of cash transfers are now widely recognized. However, the evidence base highlights that they often fall short in achieving longer-term and second-order impacts related to nutrition, learning outcomes and morbidity. In recognition of these limitations, several ‘cash plus’ initiatives have been introduced, whereby cash transfers are combined with one or more types of complementary support. This paper aims to identify key factors for successful implementation of these increasingly popular ‘cash plus’ programmes, based on (i) a review of the emerging evidence base of ‘cash plus’ interventions and (ii) an examination of three case studies, namely, Chile Solidario in Chile, IN-SCT in Ethiopia and LEAP in Ghana. The analysis was guided by a conceptual framework proposing a menu of ‘cash plus’ components. The assessment of three case studies indicated that effective implementation of ‘cash plus’ components has indeed contributed to greater impacts of the respective programmes. Such initiatives have thereby addressed some of the non-financial and structural barriers that poor people face and have reinforced the positive effects of cash transfer programmes. In design of such programmes, further attention should be paid to the constraints faced by the most vulnerable and how such constraints can be overcome. We conclude with recommendations regarding the provision of complementary support and cross-sectoral linkages based on lessons learned from the case studies. More research is still needed on the impact of the many variations of ‘cash plus’ programming, including evidence on the comparative roles of individual ‘plus’ components, as well as the knowledge, attitudes and behaviour pathways which influence these impacts.

AUTHOR(S)

Keetie Roelen; Stephen Devereux; Abdul-Gafaru Abdulai; Bruno Martorano; Tia Palermo; Luigi Peter Ragno
LANGUAGES:
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.

AUTHOR(S)

Sudhanshu Handa; Silvio Daidone; Amber Peterman; Benjamin Davis; Audrey Pereira; Tia Palermo; Jennifer Yablonski
LANGUAGES:

JOURNAL ARTICLES

BLOG POSTS

Cash transfers and fertility: new evidence from Africa (24 Feb 2016)

Social cash transfers are an increasingly popular tool in African national governments’ social protectionstrategies, bu ...

Evidence from Africa shows cash transfers increase school enrollment (20 Feb 2015)

An estimated 63 million adolescents between the ages of 12 and 15 are currently out of school, according to a recent report by the ...

PODCASTS

Tia Palermo on Evaluation of Social Cash Transfers in Sub-Saharan Africa

PROJECTS

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.

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