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Valeria Groppo

Social Policy Specialist

Valeria joined the UNICEF Office of Research - Innocenti in November 2016. She is contributing to assessing the impact of cash transfers in Sub-Saharan Africa on children’s schooling outcomes and participation in child labour. She previously worked as Research Associate for the German Institute for Economic Research in Berlin, where she specialized on the impact of weather shocks on individual human capital. Prior to this assignment, she has worked for the WTO and the ILO in Geneva, and the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Valeria holds a Master in Development Economics from the University of Sussex and a Ph.D. in Economics from the University of Milan.

Publications

Eliminating Child Labour: Essential for Human Development and Ensuring Child Well-being
Publication

Eliminating Child Labour: Essential for Human Development and Ensuring Child Well-being

The brief highlights the interlinkages between child labour and human development and describes how ending economic deprivations, universalizing school education, expanding the coverage and improve the adequacy of social protection systems, and ensuring private sector engagement in protecting child rights can effectively eliminate child labour and promote inclusive growth and development. Evidence-informed, multi-sectoral, scalable solutions are presented that can ensure children are protected from economic exploitation and end the perpetuation of long-term cumulative deprivation. The brief presents actionable policy recommendations for the G20, drawing from the most recent global research and evidence on ending child labour.
The role of social protection in the elimination of child labour: Evidence review and policy implications
Publication

The role of social protection in the elimination of child labour: Evidence review and policy implications

The Impact of Educational Policies and Programmes on Child Work and Child Labour in Low- and-Middle-Income Countries: A rapid evidence assessment (Study Protocol)
Publication

The Impact of Educational Policies and Programmes on Child Work and Child Labour in Low- and-Middle-Income Countries: A rapid evidence assessment (Study Protocol)

There is increasing evidence on the importance of education access and quality for the abolition of child labour. However, to date, only a few evidence assessments have documented the effectiveness of educational policies and programmes with respect to child labour. This Rapid Evidence Assessment (REA) aims to fill this gap by providing a comprehensive review of the effects of educational policies and programmes on child labour. With the objective to provide policy and programmatic recommendations, the review will focus on quantitative and mixed methods studies that identify causal effects. The REA will be complemented by an evidence gap map.
How Do Cash Transfers Affect Child Work and Schooling? Surprising evidence from Malawi, the United Republic of Tanzania and Zambia
Publication

How Do Cash Transfers Affect Child Work and Schooling? Surprising evidence from Malawi, the United Republic of Tanzania and Zambia

Blogs

Ending child labour in South Asia through access to quality education
Blog

Ending child labour in South Asia through access to quality education

Since 2000, the global number of children involved in child labour has dropped by 94 million. While this progress is encouraging, it is not good enough, especially when we consider the immense and long-lasting negative impacts child labour has on child wellbeing. Even more disheartening is the slowing rate of decline during 2012-16 compared to the previous four years. The fact that 152 million children globally are still being deprived of their migrants, combined with school closures, will likely increase school dropout and child labour. Remote online learning is not an option when less than 25 per cent of children in India and Bangladesh have internet access. Now more than ever, we must assess which schooling solutions improve learning, while also reducing child labour. Significant and strategic investments in effective education policies and programmes can not only ensure that children return to school after lockdowns, but also play a vital role in ending child labour in South Asia.   Ramya Subrahmanian is Chief of Child Rights and Protection at UNICEF Innocenti. Valeria Groppo is Social Policy Specialist at UNICEF Innocenti.  Discover our work on Child Labour and education in India and Bangladesh.
Children bear the cost of extreme weather: New evidence from Mongolia
Blog

Children bear the cost of extreme weather: New evidence from Mongolia

Extreme weather events are becoming more intense and more frequent in many regions of the world. From increasing precipitation and cyclones in high latitudes and tropical regions, to intensifying droughts in southern Africa, this trend is likely to continue throughout the 21st century. Weather shocks can have long-lasting effects on children's health and education. Hence, these shocks can reduce countries' levels of education and economic growth in the long term. Poor people in developing regions of the world often bear the highest costs of these events. This is mainly due to limited social protection and insurance against weather risks, combined with lack of economic opportunities. Extreme winters threaten herding households Most studies on the impact of extreme weather events focus on droughts or rainfall shocks in tropical or dry regions. However, cold shocks in the form of extremely harsh winters can also be damaging for children. While affecting all regions with continental climate and large seasonal variations in temperature, such as Russia, inland China or the Himalayas, these shocks are especially relevant in Mongolia. Children who were of school age during the shock and lived in severely affected districts were  significantly less likely to have completed mandatory educationOver the past two decades, Mongolia has been  hit by two extremely severe winters, which caused mass livestock mortality. The phenomenon of harsh winters causing mass livestock mortality is referred to as dzud in Mongolian language. Extreme winters are characterized by exceptionally cold temperature, excessive snow, lack of precipitation during the previous summer and fluctuations in temperature that cause the snow to melt and then ice over, thus hindering animal grazing. The two recent dzud events can be seen in Figure 1, which shows livestock development in Mongolia over the period 1991-2011. The first event spanned three consecutive winters during the period 1999-2002, while the second occurred in the single winter of 2009/10. Both shocks dramatically threatened livelihoods among  the Mongolian population. Indeed, for about a  third of Mongolians, animals represent the primary source of nutrition and income. Many herders lost a substantial portion of their herd during the  dzud disasters, often  falling into situations of food insecurity and poverty.   Figure 1:  Annual livestock mortality in Mongolia, 1991-2011 National-level data shown. Only deaths of adult livestock are considered.Children among the most affected by extreme winters Two recent papers studied the consequences of extreme winters on children's health and education, respectively. As it is often the case when extreme weather hits, the studies found  that children were severely affected by the weather shocks. This calls for special attention from UNICEF, which can play a leading role in supporting government policies and programmes to protect children before other extreme weather events occur. The first paper specifically studied the impact of the 2009/10 dzud on the health of children younger than 7 years old, as measured by the height-for-age indicator. Results show that children who were born or in utero during the 2009/10 catastrophic winter and lived in districts that were severely hit by the shock have significantly worse health, compared to same-age children living in less affected districts. The second paper examines the impact of extreme weather events on education. The study finds that individuals who were of school age during the shock and lived in severely affected districts were  significantly less likely to have completed mandatory education, compared to peers in less affected districts. The effects are verified for both the 1999-2002 and the 2009/2010 winters. They are also large in magnitude and persist in the long term, up to about ten years after the shock. This is particularly striking in a middle-income country like Mongolia, where there are no tuition fees for basic education. Enumerators measure the height and weight of children in a Mongolian household.In both studies, the effects only hit children from households that were engaged in herding before the shock. Moreover, the data show a negative correlation between shock intensity and post-shock household income. Taken together, the results suggest that it is not winter conditions, per se, to which all children are exposed, which drive the results. Actually, it appears that weather shocks affected children mainly through losses in household assets and income. What can UNICEF do to protect children from extreme weather shocks? The fact that children were not shielded from the negative consequences of the 2009/10 winter disaster shows that the country did not experience sufficient learning from previous weather shocks. Because extreme weather is likely to strike again in Mongolia and elsewhere, it is essential to apply policies which protect vulnerable children in case of future shocks. More research is needed to better understand the long-term effects of weather events and the mechanisms behind them. However, the existing evidence already indicates a range of complementary policies that can mitigate the impact of weather shocks on children. As UNICEF previously advocated, such policies include post-disaster relief, such as the provision of nutritional supplements to infants or pregnant mothers or the delivery of fodder to protect weakened animals. The research presented here indeed finds a positive correlation between the amount of food and fodder aid distributed after the shock and children's health outcomes in a given district. Preventive interventions are equally, if not more important, than post-shock support. In the context of health protection, these may include monitoring the health of pregnant mothers and infants - even in non-disaster years - especially in remote rural areas and in poorer households. Moreover, weather insurance can be effective in protecting household income and, in turn, children's health and education. Increasing the diversification of household economic activity can also improve household resilience in the face of weather extremes. As a form of income support, cash transfers also have great potential as a mitigation policy in the context of natural disasters. Finally, improving the dissemination of information on extreme weather events, for instance through early warning systems, may also prevent the negative consequences of extreme weather on children. Valeria Groppo is Social and Economic Policy Consultant at the UNICEF Office of Research - Innocenti. Thanks to Michelle Mills for her comments. The research presented in this blog was conducted within the project "Economics of Climate Change: Coping with Shocks in Mongolia". The project was carried out by a team of researchers at the German Institute of Economic Research (DIW Berlin), in cooperation with the Mongolian National Statistical Office (NSO). Funding for the project was provided by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research. Explore the  UNICEF Innocenti research catalogue  for new publications. Follow UNICEF  Innocenti on Twitter  and sign up for e-newsletters on any page of the UNICEF  Innocenti website.

Journal articles

Children bear the cost of extreme weather: New evidence from Mongolia
Journal Article

Cash Transfers, Microentrepreneurial Activity, and Child Work: Evidence from Malawi and Zambia

Events

Evidence on educational strategies to address child labour in India and Bangladesh
Event

Evidence on educational strategies to address child labour in India and Bangladesh

The workshop's objective is to establish current evidence and inform future direction for research on educational strategies to address child labour in India and Bangladesh. Bringing together 24 experts on the topics of child labour and education, as well as donors (DFID) and programme partners (ILO, UNICEF Regional Office for South Asia, IDS, UNICEF country offices), the workshop represents the main inception activity for the DFID-funded research project “Supporting DFID’s Asia Regional Child Labour Programme: Evidence on Educational Strategies to Address Child Labour in South Asia". The project is carried out by UNICEF Innocenti, as part of the broader DFID “Asia Regional Child Labour Programme”.