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Jose Cuesta

Chief, Social and Economic Policy

Jose Cuesta took up his position as Chief of Social and Economic Policy at the UNICEF Office of Research – Innocenti in 2016. He holds a PhD in Economics from Oxford University and most recently worked at the World Bank where he co-directed the Poverty and Shared Prosperity 2016 flagship report series. He is also an affiliated professor at Georgetown University’s McCourt School of Public Policy. He also worked as a research economist and social sector specialist for the Inter-American Development Bank and as an economist for the United Nations Development Programme in Honduras. Additionally he has participated in research projects in a large number of countries in Asia, Africa, Central and South America spanning diverse themes in the social policy field, including poverty, inequality, fiscal policies/incidence analysis, food security, social protection, and citizen security/conflict. He is an associate editor for the Journal of Economic Policy Reform
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Fiscal incidence analysis is the most widely used methodology to assess the distributional effects of fiscal policies. However, for 40 years, it has lacked a child lens. A child focus on the redistributive capacity of fiscal policy is increasingly important due to the disproportionate incidence of poverty among children globally. This paper provides a child-dedicated focus on fiscal incidence analysis by tracking child-relevant benefits, turning children the unit of analysis, and using multidimensional child poverty metrics. The analysis—Commitment to Equity for Children, or CEQ4C—integrates three analytical frameworks, namely, public finance, fiscal incidence analysis, and multidimensional child poverty analysis. The paper develops a proof of concept for Uganda that includes measurement, diagnostics, and a policy simulation package replicable across diverse contexts. The proof of concept confirms that CEQ4C provides a higher-resolution fiscal incidence analysis for children than the traditional fiscal incidence analysis.

This paper develops an econometric strategy to operationalize the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF’s) conceptual framework for nutrition, estimating the effects on child stunting that additional investments in water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) intervention packages have across population groups (poor and non-poor) and residence (urban and rural). Moving away from estimating single intervention marginal returns, the empirical framework is tested in Tunisia; a country with notable but uneven progress in child nutrition. A successful reduction of stunting will involve mapping the distinctive most effective intervention packages by residence and socioeconomic status, moving away from universal policies.


Jose Cuesta; Laura Maratou-Kolias


From a human face to human emotion: valuing feelings in development (19 Dec 2016)

Thirty years ago UNICEF reminded the world that development had a human face.  Making up for the “lost decade” of ...


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.