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Journal Articles

UNICEF Innocenti's complete catalogue of international peer reviewed journals

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Beyond internal validity: Towards a broader understanding of credibility in development policy research

AUTHOR(S)
Gustavo Angeles, Sudhanshu Handa, Amber Peterman, et al...

Published: 2020
We provide evidence from the Transfer Project to show that methodological design is only one factor in determining credibility in the eyes of policymakers. Policymakers understand concerns around internal validity, but also value collaborative research engagement, which builds trust, allows co-creation of research questions, informs operations throughout the evaluation period and leverages national research expertise. Further, the mere act of engaging in a large-scale, transparent impact evaluation, across quasi- and experimental designs can change the culture of decision-making within an agency, leading to better policy choices in the long run. We advocate for a more inclusive approach to policy research that begins with identifying the most relevant research question and fitting the methods to the question rather than vice-versa. We challenge the field to engage more closely with policymakers to identify their evidence needs in order to prioritize the end objective of improving the lives of the poor—regardless of methodological design choices.
More evidence on the relationship between cash transfers and child height

AUTHOR(S)
Averi Chakrabarti, Sudhanshu Handa, Luisa Natali, David Seidenfeld, Gelson Tembo

Published: 2020
We examine the effect of the Zambia Child Grant Programme – an unconditional cash transfer (CT) targeted to rural households with children under age five – on height-for-age up to four years after programme initiation. The CT scheme had large positive effects on nutritional inputs like food expenditure and meal frequency, but no impact on child height-for-age. Production function estimates indicate that food carries little weight in the production of child height in the study sample. In settings with poor health infrastructure and harsh disease environments, a stand-alone CT is unlikely to address long-term chronic malnutrition unless accompanied by complementary interventions.
Government of Malawi's unconditional cash transfer improves youth mental health

AUTHOR(S)
Gustavo Angeles, Jacobus de Hoop, Sudhanshu Handa, Kelly Kilburn, Annamaria Milazzo, Amber Peterman

Published: 2019
We explore the impacts of Malawi's national unconditional cash transfer program targeting ultra-poor households on youth mental health. Experimental findings show that the program significantly improved mental health outcomes. Among girls in particular, the program reduces indications of depression by about 15 percentage points. We investigate the contribution of different possible pathways to the overall program impact, including education, health, consumption, caregiver's stress levels and life satisfaction, perceived social support, and participation in hard and unpleasant work. The pathways explain from 46 to 65 percent of the program impact, advancing our understanding of how economic interventions can affect mental health of youth in resource-poor settings. The findings underline that unconditional cash grants, which are used on an increasingly large scale as part of national social protection systems in Sub-Saharan Africa, have the potential to improve youth mental wellbeing and thus may help break the vicious cycle of poverty and poor mental health.
Cash Transfers, Microentrepreneurial Activity, and Child Work: Evidence from Malawi and Zambia

AUTHOR(S)
Jacobus de Hoop, Valeria Groppo, Sudhanshu Handa

Published: 2019
Cash transfer programs are rapidly becoming a key component of the social safety net of many countries in Sub-Saharan Africa. The primary aim of these programs is to help households improve their food security and to smooth consumption during periods of economic duress. However, beneficiary households have also been shown to use these programs to expand their microentrepreneurial activities. Cluster-randomized trials carried out during the rollout of large-scale programs in Malawi and Zambia show that children may increase their work in the household enterprise through such programs. Both programs increased forms of work that may be detrimental to children, such as activities that expose children to hazards in Malawi and excessive working hours in Zambia. However, both programs also induced positive changes in other child well-being domains, such as school attendance and material well-being, leading to a mixed and inconclusive picture of the implications of these programs for children.
Impact evaluation of a social protection programme paired with fee waivers on enrolment in Ghana’s National Health Insurance Scheme

AUTHOR(S)
Tia Palermo, Elsa Valli, Gustavo Angeles, Marlous de Milliano, Clement Adamba, Tayllor Renee Spadafora, Clare Barrington

Published: 2019
While impacts on NHIS enrolment were significant, gaps remain to maximise the potential of integrated programming. NHIS and LEAP could be better streamlined to ensure poor households fully benefit from both services, in a further step towards integrated social protection.
How to Target Households in Adaptive Social Protection Systems? Evidence from Humanitarian and Development Approaches in Niger

AUTHOR(S)
Pascale Schnitzer

Published: 2019
The methods used to identify the beneficiaries of programmes aiming to address persistent poverty and shocks are subject to frequent policy debates. Relying on panel data from Niger, this report simulates the performance of various targeting methods that are widely used by development and humanitarian actors. The methods include proxy-means testing (PMT), household economy analysis (HEA), geographical targeting, and combined methods. Results show that PMT performs more effectively in identifying persistently poor households, while HEA shows superior performance in identifying transiently food insecure households. Geographical targeting is particularly efficient in responding to food crises, which tend to be largely covariate. Combinations of geographical, PMT, and HEA approaches may be used as part of an efficient and scalable adaptive social protection system. Results motivate the consolidation of data across programmes, which can support the application of alternative targeting methods tailored to programme-specific objectives.
Examination of performance of the Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression Scale Short Form 10 among African youth in poor, rural households

AUTHOR(S)
Kelly Kilburn, Leah Prencipe, Lisa Hjelm, Amber Peterman, Sudhanshu Handa, Tia Palermo

Published: 2018

Background

Youth mental health has emerged as a pressing global issue. However, to advance research gaps in low-income settings, we need valid measures of common mental health disorders. Using primary data collected in five countries (Kenya, Malawi, Tanzania, Zambia, and Zimbabwe), this study aims to assess the psychometric properties of the commonly used 10-item Center for Epidemiological Studies Depression (CES-D 10) scale among poor, disadvantaged youth populations in sub-Saharan African (SSA).

Methods

Youth samples from each country (sample sizes ranging from 651 to 2098) come from large household surveys with youth modules, collected for impact evaluations of cash transfer programs targeted to poor families. For each sample, we assessed internal consistency (alpha), conducted factor analysis, and then examined construct validity and measurement invariance. We performed both exploratory (EFA) and confirmatory factor analysis (CFA) to examine and confirm the structure of the CES-D 10 for each country and then used multigroup CFA to assess measurement invariance across gender and age. Multivariate analyses were conducted to assess construct validity via test of the relationship between CES-D 10 and background characteristics.

Results

Results show the CES-D 10 had strong psychometric properties and was a reliable measure of depressive symptoms among disadvantaged youth in SSA. Across countries, there was high internal consistency (Cronbach alphas = 0.70–0.76) and the traditional two-factor solution showed good model fit. Full measurement invariance of the CES-D 10 was supported across gender. Consistent with previous literature on risk factors for depressive symptoms, the CES-D 10 was associated with increasing age, and female gender and being out of school in some locations.

Conclusions

Results from this study support broad use of the CES-D 10 among poor youth populations in SSA. Between one-third and two-thirds of our samples demonstrated depressive symptoms as classified by recommended cut-offs for the CES-D 10, indicating a high burden of mental illness in disadvantaged youth populations. This tool can be used in future efforts to study prevalence and dynamics of depressive symptoms in this population, as well as effectiveness of policies and interventions to improve the mental health of youth in SSA.

Still a leap of faith: Microfinance for prevention of violence against women and girls in low- and middle-income settings

AUTHOR(S)
Amber Peterman, Tia Palermo, Giulia Ferrari

Published: 2018
Economic strengthening interventions, including microfinance initiatives have been proposed as promising strategies to reduce interpersonal violence in low-income and middle-income settings. Despite these recommendations, there is little rigorous empirical evidence that microfinance alone or synergistically with gender norms or equity training can reduce violence against children or intimate partner violence.
  • We call for further investments in evidence generation around economic strengthening before scaling-up potentially ineffective interventions

  • A mixed-method review of Intimate partner violence and cash transfers in low- and middle-income countries

    AUTHOR(S)
    A.M. Buller, Amber Peterman, M. Raganathan, A. Bleile, M. Hidrobo, L. Heise

    Published: 2018
    There is increasing evidence that cash transfer (CT) programs decrease intimate partner violence (IPV). However, little is known about how CTs achieve this impact. We conducted a mixed-method review of studies in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). Fourteen quantitative and eight qualitative studies met our inclusion criteria, of which eleven and five, respectively, demonstrated evidence that CTs decrease IPV. We found little support for increases in IPV, with only two studies showing overall mixed or adverse impacts. Drawing on these studies, as well as related bodies of evidence, we developed a program theory proposing three pathways through which CT could impact IPV: (a) economic security and emotional well-being, (b) intra-household conflict, and (c) women's empowerment. The economic security and well-being pathway hypothesizes decreases in IPV, while the other two pathways have ambiguous effects depending on program design features and behavioral responses to program components. Future studies should improve IPV measurement, empirical analysis of program mechanisms, and fill regional gaps. Program framing and complementary activities, including those with the ability to shift intra-household power relations are likely to be important design features for understanding how to maximize and leverage the impact of CTs for reducing IPV, and mitigating potential adverse impacts. Intimate partner violence. Domestic violence. Cash transfers. Women's empowerment
    Context and Measurement: An analysis of the relationship between intrahoushold decision making and autonomy

    AUTHOR(S)
    G. Seymour, Amber Peterman

    Published: 2018
    Using data from two culturally distinct locales, Bangladesh and Ghana, we investigate whether men and women who report sole decision making in a particular domain experience stronger (or weaker) feelings of autonomous motivation—measured using the Relative Autonomy Index (RAI)—compared to those who report joint decision making. Used primarily in psychology, the RAI measures the extent to which an individual’s actions are intrinsically or extrinsically motivated, where higher scores indicate greater autonomy. On aggregate, we find differences between men and women, and across countries, in the significance of association between the individual’s level of participation in decision-making and autonomy. In addition, we find heterogeneity in the strength of this association, depending on the domain (e.g., productive versus personal decisions) and whether partners agree on who normally makes decisions. These findings imply that details related to context and measurement matter for understanding individual decision-making power. We argue that all research using information on decision-making should include a careful analysis of men’s and women’s perceptions of decision making within the household, which may be useful for calibrating indicators to suit specific contexts.
    Cite this publication | No. of pages: 97-112 | Tags: cash transfers, household income
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