Social Policy and Child Health

Dr. Tia Palermo.

Dr. Tia Palermo, Associate Professor, Department of Epidemiology and Environmental Health

Governments around the world create social policies that aim to improve their communities’ health, economic well-being, schooling and more. Policies not directly aimed at improving health may still have unintended effects (positive or negative) on the health of a population.

Dr. Tia Palermo, Associate Professor in the Department of Epidemiology and Environmental Health, examines the impact these policies have on population health. A former researcher at the UNICEF Office of Research – Innocenti in Florence, Italy, Dr. Palermo led research on linkages between social policy and child and adolescent well-being in sub-Saharan Africa and was actively engaged in facilitating evidence uptake in government decision-making.

Currently, as co-Principal Investigator for studies in Tanzania and Ethiopia, Dr. Palermo studies how government social protection programs that aim to combat poverty and are linked with other services and complementary interventions, affect the health and well-being of children, adolescents, and their families. In a complementary project that aimed to understand one pathway of impact (stress reduction) that links social protection programs to improved health, Dr. Palermo and colleagues conducted a qualitative study that examined key stressors faced by adolescents and youth in rural sub-Saharan African settings. Then, they created a new measure of self-perceived stress - the Enhanced Life Distress Inventory (ELDI) - and tested the performance and psychometric properties of this measure in population-based surveys. Currently, Dr. Palermo and colleagues are studying whether cash transfers, one form of social protection programming, reduce stress as measured by the ELDI using quantitative data from four large-scale surveys in three countries.

Dr. Palermo is a member of the following Research Consortia: The Transfer Project, SPARKS Network for Health and Social Protection, and The Cash Transfer and Intimate Partner Violence Research Collaborative.

Articles and Reflections

Recent Publications

  1. Hidrobo, M., Kumar, N., Palermo, T., Peterman, A., & Roy, S. Gender-sensitive social protection.
  2. Palermo TM, Valli E, Ángeles-Tagliaferro G LEAP 1000 Evaluation Team, et al. Impact evaluation of a social protection programme paired with fee waivers on enrolment in Ghana’s National Health Insurance Scheme. BMJ Open 2019;9:e028726. doi: 10.1136/bmjopen-2018-028726
  3. Waidler, J., & Doctor, L. K. (2019, November). A cash plus model for safe transitions to adulthood: Impacts on the sexual and reproductive health knowledge of Tanzania’s youth. In APHA's 2019 Annual Meeting and Expo (Nov. 2-Nov. 6). American Public Health Association.
  4. Sudhanshu Handa, Silvio Daidone, Amber Peterman, Benjamin Davis, Audrey Pereira, Tia Palermo, Jennifer Yablonski, Myth-Busting? Confronting Six Common Perceptions about Unconditional Cash Transfers as a Poverty Reduction Strategy in Africa, The World Bank Research Observer, Volume 33, Issue 2, August 2018, Pages 259–298,