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Luisa Natali

Social Policy Specialist

Luisa Natali’s primary research focus is on development economics and policy impact evaluation. Currently she is working on social policy and social protection, and in particular in the evaluation of cash transfer programmes, child well-being, poverty and vulnerability analysis, and the economics of gender. Luisa has previously worked as a research consultant for the Overseas Development Institute (ODI), the Institute of Development Studies (IDS), and UK’s Department for International Development (DFID), as well as four years previously at Innocenti. Luisa also has field experience in Zambia, South Africa and Bangladesh. She holds a Master’s in Development Economics.
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We examine the effect of the Zambia Child Grant Programme – an unconditional cash transfer (CT) targeted to rural families with children under age five – on height-for-age four years after programme initiation. The CT scheme had large positive effects on several nutritional inputs including food expenditure and meal frequency. However, there was no effect on height-for-age. Production function estimates indicate that food carries little weight in the production of child height. Health knowledge of mothers and health infrastructure in the study sites are also very poor. These factors plus the harsh disease environment are too onerous to be overcome by the increases in food intake generated by the CT. In such settings, a stand-alone CT, even when it has large positive effects on food security, is unlikely to have an impact on long-term chronic malnutrition unless accompanied by complementary interventions.


Averi Chakrabarti; Sudhanshu Handa; Luisa Natali; David Seidenfeld; Gelson Tembo

There is increasing interest in the potential of cash transfers to facilitate safe transitions to adulthood among vulnerable youth in low-income settings. However, little evidence exists that analyses these linkages from at-scale government-run programmes. This brief summarizes the impacts of two government-run large-scale unconditional cash transfers on outcomes of early marriage and pregnancy among youth in Malawi and Zambia after approximately three years. Results indicate limited impacts on safe transitions for both males and females. However, the programmes were successful in reducing poverty and improving schooling outcomes—two main pathways for safe transitions as reported in the literature. Research implications include the need to study transitions over longer time periods, including tracking of youth as they transition out of study households. If reducing early marriage and pregnancy is among policy makers’ primary priorities, then dedicated programming via cash plus or services specifically targeted at addressing the needs of adolescents and youth should be considered.


Luisa Natali; Fidelia Dake



Administrative Data: Missed opportunity for learning and research in humanitarian emergencies? (21 Jun 2018)

Researchers discuss the strengths and weaknesses of using administrative data collected during emergencies for research on children. Adminis ...

Opening the black box: Cash transfers and post-intervention research (23 Feb 2018)

Last Fall I visited three of the most poverty-stricken rural districts of Zambia: Kaputa, Kalabo and Shangombo. Each location took two days& ...


Social Protection & Cash Transfers

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