Leyla Karimli is an interdisciplinary scholar of international social development whose research examines the multiple non-economic dimensions of poverty and social exclusion and seeks poverty-reduction solutions at both the program and policy levels. Dr. Karimli uses longitudinal quantitative (mostly experimental and quasi-experimental) studies to examine complex links between the economic dimensions of poverty, social norms, social support mechanisms, and psycho-social outcomes in order to inform poverty-alleviation programs and policies in the context of Sub-Saharan Africa and Central Asia.
Dr. Karimli has 13 years of international research and practice experience focusing on poverty and social exclusion, including working with international development agencies in the former Soviet Union and Sub-Saharan Africa. Dr. Karimli received her PhD from Columbia University’s School of Social Work with a concentration in social policy and social welfare. She completed her postdoctoral training at the University of Chicago’s School of Social Service Administration and New York University’s Silver School of Social Work’s McSilver Institute for Poverty Policy and Research.
Dr. Karimli is a faculty affiliate at Luskin’s Global Public Affairs, the International Development and Policy Outreach, the International Center on Child Health and Asset Development (ICHAD), and UCLA’s California Center for Population Research (CCPR).
CURRENT RESEARCH AGENDA
Child savings accounts and expansion of financial capabilities as a form of asset-based interventions to reduce poverty: Dr. Karimli’s research in this area focuses on using robust experimental design to test specific mechanisms (e.g. reduced child poverty, improved family support) through which Child Savings Accounts and financial capabilities interventions may impact child and adolescent well-being in Sub-Saharan Africa and Central Asia, thus expanding a scant body of empirical evidence on the subject in this region. Dr. Karimli’s research suggests that family support and “hope for the future”, rather than monetary savings, can be specific mechanisms of change accounting for the positive effect of these intervention on children’s and adolescents’ psycho-social outcomes. From the policy perspective, her research implies that peer-context and family support interventions, along with educational grants, might be more effective and efficient mechanisms of reducing child poverty and building human capital in the low-income context.
“Graduation programs” as a form of “cash plus” support to the poorest of the poor: Dr. Karimli’s research in this field aims to unpack specific dimensions and experiences of poverty by age and gender and to understand specific mechanisms (e.g. reduced parental stress, improved access to assets by female caregiver) through which these program improve children’s mental health and psycho-social functioning. She served as a Co-Investigator in a longitudinal (2014-2017) experimental study funded by the Children and Violence Evaluation Challenge Fund and co-funded by the Child Protection Working Group (The United Nations Children’s Fund) to evaluate effect of the integrated graduation program on child protection outcomes among children in ultra-poor communities in Burkina Faso. From the policy and practice perspective, her research contributes to building the evidence on the importance of integrated interventions, addressing simultaneously economic and social dimensions of well-being.
Effect of poverty-reduction programs on multiple dimensions of poverty among children: Dr. Karimli’s research in this field aims to understand the effect of various social support programs on multidimensional child poverty using the innovative multiple overlapping deprivation analyses (MODA) tool capturing multiple dimensions of child poverty and deprivation (such as, for example, food security, access to clean water and sanitation, health care, education, adequate housing, access to information, child labor, exposure to violence, and social inclusion) experienced simultaneously. The tool provides a more comprehensive picture of child well-being (as compared to monetary measures of child poverty), and acknowledges that children’s needs are heterogeneous across their childhood, and, therefore, different age groups are examined separately. Dr. Karimli is a recipient of the UCLA Academic Senate Council on Research grant to test the effect of unconditional cash transfers on children’s multidimensional deprivations in Uganda. Her research in this area also includes conducting analyses on data from Central Asia, thus adding to the very scarce body of knowledge on multidimensional child deprivation in the region. She is a recipient of UCLA Hellman Fellows Award to analyze multidimensional child deprivations in Kyrgyz Republic.
Karimli, L., Ssewamala, F. M.., Neilands, T.B., Wells, C. R., & *Bermudez, L. (2019) Poverty, economic strengthening, and mental health among AIDS orphaned children in Uganda: mediation model in a randomized clinical trial. Social Science & Medicine, 228, 17-24
Karimli, L., Bose, B., & Kagotho, N. (2019) Integrated graduation program and its effect on women and household economic well-being: Findings from a randomized controlled trial in Burkina Faso. Journal of Development Studies
Karimli, L. Shephard, D.D., McKay M. M., Batista, T., & *Allmang, S. (2019) Effect of non-formal experiential education on personal agency of adolescent girls in Tajikistan: findings from a randomized experimental study. Global Social Welfare
Karimli L., *Rost L., Ismayilova L. (2018). Integrating economic strengthening and family coaching to reduce work-related health hazards among children of poor households: Burkina Faso. Journal of Adolescent Health, Special Issue, Global Perspectives on Economic Strengthening, 62(1):S6–S14.
Karimli, L., Samman, E., Rost, L., & Kidder, T. (2016) Factors and Norms Influencing Unpaid Care Work: Household survey evidence from five rural communities in Colombia, Ethiopia, The Philippines, Uganda and Zimbabwe. Oxford, UK: Oxfam, Women’s Economic Empowerment and Care.
Karimli, L. & Ssewamala, F.M. (2015) Do savings mediate changes in adolescents’ future orientation and health-related outcomes? Findings from randomized experiment in Uganda. Journal of Adolescent Health, 57 (4), 425-432
Karimli, L., Ssewamala, F. M., & Neilands, T. B. (2014) Poor families striving to save in matched children’s savings accounts: Findings from a randomized experimental design in Uganda. Social Service Review, 88 (4), 658-694
Karimli, L., Ssewamala, F. M., & Ismayilova, L. (2012) Extended families and perceived caregiver support to AIDS orphans in Rakai district of Uganda. Children and Youth Services Review, 345 (7), 1351-1358