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Journal Articles

UNICEF Innocenti's complete catalogue of international peer reviewed journals

RESULTS:   107     SORT BY:


71 - 80 of 107
Women’s economic capacity and children’s human capital accumulation

Jacobus de Hoop, Patrick Premand, Furio Rosati, Renos Vakis

Published: 2017
Programs that increase the economic capacity of poor women can have cascading effects on children’s participation in school and work that are theoretically undetermined. We present a simple model to describe the possible channels through which these programs may affect children’s activities. Based on a cluster-randomized trial, we examine how a program providing capital and training to women in poor rural communities in Nicaragua affected children. Children in beneficiary households are more likely to attend school 1 year after the end of the intervention. An increase in women’s influence on household decisions appears to contribute to the program’s beneficial effect on school attendance.
Cash Transfers and Child Nutrition: Pathways and Impacts

Richard de Groot, Tia Palermo, Sudhanshu Handa, Luigi Peter Ragno, Amber Peterman

Published: 2017

Childhood malnutrition remains a significant global problem, with an estimated 162 million children under the age of five suffering from stunted growth. This article examines the extent to which cash transfer programmes can improve child nutrition. It adopts a framework that captures and explains the pathways and determinants of child nutrition. The framework is then used to organize and discuss relevant evidence from the impact evaluation literature, focusing on impact pathways and new and emerging findings from sub-Saharan Africa to identify critical elements that determine child nutrition outcomes as well as knowledge gaps requiring further research, such as children's dietary diversity, caregiver behaviours and stress.

Investments in children’s health and the Kenyan cash transfer for orphans and vulnerable children: evidence from an unconditional cash transfer scheme

Carolyn Huang, Kavita Singh, Sudhanshu Handa, Carolyn Halpern, Audrey Pettifor, Harsha Thirumurthy

Published: 2017
Child mortality is one of the most pressing global health and policy issues in the developing world. The leading drivers of death—pneumonia, diarrhea and malaria—are preventable and treatable. However, these illnesses are exacerbated by a lack of accessible nutrition, water, basic and preventive health services, and sanitary living conditions—all factors which are more likely to disproportionately impact the poor. We examine whether Kenya’s largest social protection impacts children’s incidence of upper respiratory illness. The Kenya Cash Transfer for Orphans and Vulnerable Children was designed to support orphans affected by HIV/AIDS and has covered over 240,000 households as of 2014. Using longitudinal, cluster-randomized program data from 2007 to 2009, we run a generalized linear latent and mixed method estimation model on a sample of children 0–7 years and under-5 years of age. We find that the program is associated with a decrease in illness in children 0–7 years of age (P < 0.05), but found no effects on a stratified sample of under-5 children. Furthermore, no impacts on health care seeking in the event of illness were detected. This study is one of few examining children’s health using data from a large scale unconditional cash transfer program. With the widespread adoption of over 123 cash transfer programs across sub-Saharan Africa, these findings suggest social cash transfer programs are capable of promoting the multidimensional well-being for the world’s most vulnerable populations.
Multidimensional Child Deprivation and Poverty Measurement: Case Study of Bosnia and Herzegovina

Yekaterina Chzhen, Lucia Ferrone

Published: 2017
This study applies UNICEF’s rights-based multiple overlapping deprivation analysis framework to a single country case study—Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH). Using data from the Extended Living Standards Measurement Survey 2011 for children aged 5–15, the paper analyses the incidence and intensity of multidimensional child deprivation and examines its relationship to household-based monetary poverty, drawing on differences between rural and urban areas. Seven dimensions of deprivation have been identified using the child rights framework: Nutrition, Clothing, Educational Resources, Leisure, Social Participation, Information and Housing. We find that the majority of school-age children in BiH are deprived in one or more dimensions and one in four are deprived in three or more dimensions out of seven. Children in consumption poor households are more likely to be deprived in every dimension analysed separately and in a greater number of dimensions at once. Nevertheless, the degree of overlap between poverty and multidimensional deprivation is moderate, suggesting that child deprivation cannot be eradicated solely by increasing households’ consumption capacity. Finally, the study finds no significant differences by type of area in multidimensional deprivation rates for consumption-poor children aged 5–15. In contrast, non-poor children in rural areas are substantially more likely to be deprived in three or more dimensions at once than their counterparts in urban areas. Overall, these results call for a multifaceted policy approach targeting both the demand for and supply of children’s goods and services.
Understanding the linkages between social safety nets and childhood violence: a review of the evidence from low- and middle-income countries

Amber Peterman, Naomi Neijhoft, Sarah Cook, Tia Palermo

Published: 2017
As many as one billion children experience violence every year, and household- and community-level poverty are among the risk factors for child protection violations. Social safety nets (SSNs) are a main policy tool to address poverty and vulnerability, and there is substantial evidence demonstrating positive effects on children’s health and human capital. This paper reviews evidence and develops a framework to understand linkages between non-contributory SSNs and the experience of childhood emotional, physical and sexual violence in low- and middle-income countries. We catalogue 14 rigorous impact evaluations, 11 of which are completed, analysing 57 unique impacts on diverse violence indicators. Among these impacts, approximately one in five represent statistically significant protective effects on childhood violence. Promising evidence relates to sexual violence among female adolescents in Africa, while there is less clear evidence of significant impacts in other parts of the developing world, and on young child measures, including violent discipline. Further, few studies are set up to meaningfully unpack mechanisms between SSNs and childhood violence; however, those most commonly hypothesized operate at the household level (through increases in economic security and reductions in poverty-related stress), the interpersonal level (improved parental behaviours, caregiving practices, improved psychosocial well-being) and at the child-level (protective education and decreases in problem or risky behaviours). It is important to emphasize that traditional SSNs are never designed with violence prevention as primary objectives, and thus should not be considered as standalone interventions to reduce risks for childhood violence. However, SSNs, particularly within integrated protection systems, appear to have potential to reduce violence risk. Linkages between SSNs and childhood violence are understudied, and investments should be made to close this evidence gap.
Cash for Women’s Empowerment? A Mixed-Methods Evaluation of the Government of Zambia’s Child Grant Program

Juan Bonilla, Rosa Castro Zarzur, Sudhanshu Handa, Claire Nowlin, Amber Peterman, Hannah Ring, David Seidenfeld

Published: 2017
The empowerment of women, broadly defined, is an often-cited objective and benefit of social cash transfer programs in developing countries. Despite the promise and potential of cash transfers to empower women, the evidence supporting this outcome is mixed. In addition, there is little evidence from programs at scale in sub-Saharan Africa. We conducted a mixed-methods evaluation of the Government of Zambia’s Child Grant Program, a poverty-targeted, unconditional transfer given to mothers or primary caregivers of young children aged zero to five. The quantitative component was a four-year longitudinal clustered-randomized control trial in three rural districts, and the qualitative component was a one-time data collection involving in-depth interviews with women and their partners stratified on marital status and program participation. Our study found that women in beneficiary households were making more sole or joint decisions (across five out of nine domains); however, impacts translated into relatively modest increases in the number of decision domains a woman is involved in, on average by 0.34 (or a 6% increase over a baseline mean of 5.3). Qualitatively, we found that changes in intrahousehold relationships were limited by entrenched gender norms, which indicate men as heads of household and primary decision makers. However, women’s narratives showed the transfer increased financial empowerment as they were able to retain control over transfers for household investment and savings for emergencies. We highlight methodological challenges in using intrahousehold decision making as the primary indicator to measure empowerment. Results show potential for unconditional cash transfer programs to improve the financial and intrahousehold status of female beneficiaries, however it is likely additional design components are need for transformational change.
Poverty and perceived stress: Evidence from two unconditional cash transfer programs in Zambia

Jacobus de Hoop, Tia Palermo, Lisa Hjelm, Sudhanshu Handa

Published: 2017


Poverty is a chronic stressor that can lead to poor physical and mental health. This study examines whether two similar government poverty alleviation programs reduced the levels of perceived stress and poverty among poor households in Zambia.


Secondary data from two cluster randomized controlled trials were used to evaluate the impacts of two unconditional cash transfer programs in Zambia. Participants were interviewed at baseline and followed over 36 months. Perceived stress among female caregivers was assessed using the Cohen Perceived Stress Scale (PSS). Poverty indicators assessed included per capita expenditure, household food security, and (nonproductive) asset ownership. Fixed effects and ordinary least squares regressions were run, controlling for age, education, marital status, household demographics, location, and poverty status at baseline.


Cash transfers did not reduce perceived stress but improved economic security (per capita consumption expenditure, food insecurity, and asset ownership). Among these poverty indicators, only food insecurity was associated with perceived stress. Age and education showed no consistent association with stress, whereas death of a household member was associated with higher stress levels.


In this setting, perceived stress was not reduced by a positive income shock but was correlated with food insecurity and household deaths, suggesting that food security is an important stressor in this context. Although the program did reduce food insecurity, the size of the reduction was not enough to generate a statistically significant change in stress levels. The measure used in this study appears not to be correlated with characteristics to which it has been linked in other settings, and thus, further research is needed to examine whether this widely used perceived stress measure appropriately captures the concept of perceived stress in this population.

Cite this publication | No. of pages: 110-117 | Tags: cash transfers, child poverty
Children as Internet users: how can evidence better inform policy debate?

Jasmina Byrne, Patrick Burton

Published: 2017
As more and more researchers from all over the world are becoming interested in how children use the Internet and mobile technologies, global evidence of both the opportunities that the Internet brings, and their associated risks, is increasing. A new research initiative, Global Kids Online, contributes to this through provision of tools and guidelines to national researchers and comparative analysis of country-specific research findings. For the first time, rigorous and comparable evidence from lower and middle-income countries (South Africa, Serbia, the Philippines, Brazil and Argentina) is available on a range of topics: children’s civic engagement, participation and digital literacy, as well as risky behaviour and negative experiences. But to what extent do current Internet-related or broader child rights policies (regarding education and protection) correspond to this growing evidence base? What are the opportunities, through evidence use, for influencing new policy direction related to children and the Internet? Drawing on recent research and an associated policy review, this paper explores the link between the two and provides some suggestions for policy and questions for further discussion.
Does Keeping Adolescent Girls in School Protect against Sexual Violence? Quasi-experimental evidence from East and Southern Africa

J. Behrman, Amber Peterman, Tia Palermo

Published: 2017


We examine the relationship between educational attainment in adolescence on young women's lifetime experience of sexual violence in Malawi and Uganda.


Exposure to Universal Primary Education policies in the mid-1990s serves as a natural experiment to estimate the causal effect of schooling on women's subsequent experience of sexual violence using an instrumented regression discontinuity design and Demographic and Health Survey data.


We find a one-year increase in grade attainment leads to a nine-percentage point reduction (p < .05) in the probability of ever experiencing sexual violence in a sample of 1,028 Ugandan women (aged 18–29 years), an estimate which is considerably larger than observational estimates. We find no effect of grade attainment on ever experiencing sexual violence among a sample of 4,413 Malawian women (aged 19–31 years). In addition, we find no relationship between grade attainment and 12-month sexual violence in either country. Analysis of pathways indicates increased grade attainment increases literacy and experience of premarital sex in Malawi and reduces the probability of ever being married in both countries.


Keeping girls in school results in a number of benefits for young women; however, protects against lifetime experience of sexual violence only in Uganda. It is possible that overall higher grade attainment, particularly at secondary school levels is driving this effect in Uganda. More research on this relationship is needed, as well as on effective interventions, particularly those which can be taken to scale related to enhancing the quality and quantity of education.

Women’s Individual Asset Ownership and Experience of Intimate Partner Violence: Evidence From 28 International Surveys

Amber Peterman, Audrey Pereira, Jennifer Bleck, Tia Palermo, Kathryn M. Yount

Published: 2017

Objectives. To assess the oft-perceived protective relationship between women’s asset ownership and experience of intimate partner violence (IPV) in the previous 12 months.

Methods. We used international survey data from women aged 15 to 49 years from 28 Demographic and Health Surveys (2010–2014) to examine the association between owning assets and experience of recent IPV, matching on household wealth by using multivariate probit models. Matching methods helped to account for the higher probability that women in wealthier households also have a higher likelihood of owning assets.

Results. Asset ownership of any type was negatively associated with IPV in 3 countries, positively associated in 5 countries, and had no significant relationship in 20 countries (P < .10). Disaggregation by asset type, sole or joint ownership, women’s age, and community level of women’s asset ownership similarly showed no conclusive patterns.

Conclusions. Results suggest that the relationship between women’s asset ownership and IPV is highly context specific. Additional methodologies and data are needed to identify causality, and to understand how asset ownership differs from other types of women’s economic empowerment.

71 - 80 of 107