Leyla Karimli

Dr. Leyla Karimli’s interdisciplinary applied research critically examines the impact of poverty reduction interventions on the psychosocial wellbeing of vulnerable children and families in Sub-Saharan Africa and Central Asia, highlighting the often-neglected significance of local social structures and revealing the multifaceted nature of poverty. Dr. Karimli uses multilevel longitudinal 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 programs and policies to address child poverty and deprivation in the context of Sub-Saharan Africa and Central Asia.

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. Prior to her academic career, Dr. Karimli actively contributed to community-based empowerment and poverty reduction initiatives by working within development agencies in the former Soviet Union and Sub-Saharan Africa.

Dr. Karimli is a faculty affiliate at Luskin’s Global Public Affairs, the Global Lab for Research in Action, the International Center on Child Health and Asset Development (ICHAD), and UCLA’s California Center for Population Research (CCPR).

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For full list of publications please visit her page at ResearchGate or Google Scholar


Karimli, L., Ssewamala, F. M., & Neilands, T.B. (2023) The impact of poverty-reduction intervention on child mental health mediated by family relations: Findings from a cluster-randomized trial in Uganda. Social Science & Medicine, 332, 116102

Karimli L., Nabunya, P., Ssewamala, F.M., & Dvalishvili, D. (2023) Combining asset accumulation and multi-family group intervention to improve mental health for adolescent girls: A cluster-randomized trial in Uganda. Journal of Adolescent Health (DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jadohealth.2023.08.012)

Gómez, A., Karimli, L., Holguinc, M., Chung, P., Szilagyi, P., & Schickedanz, A. (2022) Bills, babies, and (language) barriers: Associations between economic strain and parenting outcomes among parents of infants in low-income households. Family Relations, 71, 352-370

Karimli, L., Lecoutere, E., Wells, C. R. & Ismayilova, L. (2021) More assets, more decision-making power? Mediation model in a cluster-randomized controlled trial evaluating the effect of the graduation program on women’s empowerment in Burkina Faso. World Development, 137, 105159

Karimli, L., Bose, B., & Kagotho, N. (2020) 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, 56(7), 1277-1294

Ismayilova, L. & Karimli, L. (2020) Harsh parenting and violence against children: a trial with ultra-poor families in Francophone West Africa. Journal of Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology, 49(1), 18-35

Karimli, L., Shephard, D.D., McKay M. M., Batista, T., & Allmang, S. (2020) Effect of non-formal experiential education on personal agency of adolescent girls in Tajikistan: findings from a randomized experimental study. Global Social Welfare. 7(2), 141-154

Salecker, L.M., Ahmadov, A., & Karimli, L. (2020) Contrasting monetary and multidimensional poverty measures in a low-income Sub-Saharan African country. Social Indicators Research, 151(2), 547-574

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., 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.

Ismayilova, L., Karimli, L., Sanson, J., Gaveras, E., Nanema, R., Tô-Camier, A., & Chaffin, J. (2018) Improving child mental health in ultra-poor families: Two-year outcomes of a cluster-randomized trial in Burkina Faso. Social Science & Medicine, 208, 180-189

Ismayilova, L., Karimli, L., Gaveras, E., Tô-Camier, A., Sanson, J., Chaffin, J. & Nanema, R. (2018) An integrated approach to increasing women’s empowerment and reducing domestic violence: Results of a cluster-randomized controlled trial in a West African country. Psychology of Violence, 8(4), 448-459.

Lovato-Hermann, K., Lopez, C., Karimli, L., & Abrams, L. (2018) The impact of deportation-related family separations on the well-being of Latino/a children and youth: a review of the literature. Children and Youth Services Review, 95, 109-116

Ssewamala, F. M., Karimli, L., Neilands, T. B., Wang, J. S. H., Han, C. K., Ilic, V., & Nabunya, P. (2016) Applying a family-level economic strengthening intervention to improve education and health-related outcomes of school-going AIDS-orphaned children: Lessons from a randomized experiment in Southern Uganda. Prevention Science, 17(1), 134-143

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.