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Elsa Valli


Elsa Valli joined the Social and Economic Policy Unit at the UNICEF Office of Research – Innocenti as a consultant in January 2017. She contributes to producing policy-relevant evidence mostly through impact evaluations of social protection and cash transfer programmes. Her research interests lie in poverty and vulnerability, children and adolescents’ wellbeing. In the past she worked on research projects for Overseas Development Institute (ODI), Scaling Up Nutrition (SUN) Movement, European Union, UNRWA, USAID, and Institute of Development Studies (IDS) on poverty dynamics, food security, nutrition, agriculture, social protection and education mostly on Sub-Saharan countries but also Middle East, India and Latin America. Elsa was awarded a PhD in Economics from the University of Sussex on issues related to development economics, focusing on social protection in Ethiopia
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This rapid review seeks to inform initial and long-term public policy responses to the COVID-19 pandemic by assessing evidence on past economic policy and social protection responses to health and economic crises and their effects on children and families. The review focuses on virus outbreaks/emergencies, economic crises and natural disasters which, similar to the COVID-19 pandemic, were rapid in onset, had wide-ranging geographical reach, and resulted in disruption of social services and economic sectors without affecting governance systems. Lessons are also drawn from the HIV/AIDS pandemic due to its impact on adult mortality rates and surviving children.

Ethiopia is one of the world’s largest recipients of donor funds for development and emergency interventions. As such, its targeting of social protection has received substantial attention. In particular, concerns have been raised that political connections could play a role in determining the selection of beneficiaries. With the introduction in 2005 of the Productive Safety Net Programme (PSNP), Ethiopia implemented various policies aimed at increasing transparency in the targeting of social protection. This case study compares targeting before and during the implementation of PSNP, and shows improvements in targeting for both public works and emergency aid in relation to the dimensions of poverty, food security and political connections. Most notably, political connections are no longer found to determine the receipt of benefits during the implementation of PSNP.


Elsa Valli


Impact evaluation of a social protection programme paired with fee waivers on enrolment in Ghana’s National Health Insurance Scheme (2019)

Tia Palermo, Elsa Valli, Gustavo Angeles, Marlous de Milliano, Clement Adamba, Tayllor Renee Spadafora, Clare Barrington
BMJ Open, 2019-11, vol. 9 (11)

Economic Transfers and Social Cohesion in a Refugee-Hosting Setting (2019)

Elsa Valli, Amber Peterman, Melissa Hidrobo
Journal of Development Studies, 2019-12, vol. 55, pp. 128-146.


Cash Plus

Integrating cash transfers with other services, like health insurance, can generate substantial benefits for individuals as well as their households. ...

Gender-responsive and age-sensitive social protection

Gender and age play a disproportionately large role in how people experience risks, vulnerabilities, and opportunities. A new four-year research prog ...