News and Announcements

  • Anti-poverty strategy offers sustained benefit for world’s ultra-poor, says new study in Science

    May 14/15 | Announcement | 
     
    May 15, 2015 NEW HAVEN CT - A new six-country study shows a comprehensive approach for the ultra-poor, the approximately one billion people who live on less than $1.25 a day, boosted livelihoods, income, and health. Published in Science (available here), the research tested the effectiveness of an approach known as the “Graduation model” in six countries by following 21,000 of the world’s poorest people for three years. The data show this approach led to large and lasting impacts on their standard of living.
     
    Previous efforts by governments and aid groups to reduce poverty among the ultra-poor have not been proven to work. Addressing this gap, the new study reports on a six-country evaluation of a comprehensive approach that addresses the many challenges of poverty simultaneously. According to study co-author Dean Karlan of Yale University and the research and policy non-profit Innovations for Poverty Action (IPA): "Being ultra-poor usually means more than just not having an income - like not enough food to eat, no way to save, no information, and low perception of their opportunities to escape their situation," Karlan said. "We tested an approach that addressed several factors at once, and found significant improvements, even three years after the program did the bulk of the work.”
     
    In Ethiopia, Ghana, Honduras, India, Pakistan, and Peru, researchers tracked over 21,000 people to test how much the Graduation approach improved their lives and their families’ welfare. The program included six components over a two-year period:
     
    An asset to use to make a living, such as livestock or goods to start an informal store. 
    Training on how to manage the asset.
    Basic food or cash support to reduce the need to sell their new asset in an emergency.
    Frequent (usually weekly) coaching visits to reinforce skills, build confidence, and help participants handle any challenges.
    Health education or access to healthcare to stay healthy and able to work.
    A savings account to help put away money to invest or use in a future emergency.
     
    Borrowing from healthcare research methodology, the researchers used a randomized controlled trial, tracking both people invited to participate in the two-year program and a similar group who was not, to compare how their lives changed up to a year after the program ended. Those in the program group had significantly more assets and savings, spent more time working, went hungry on fewer days, and experienced lower levels of stress and improved physical health.  
     
    “Not only is it effective, but it represents a significant return on investment,” according to Kate McKee of the Consultative Group to Assist the Poor in Washington, DC, which helped implement the project. “The hope is that we can next learn how NGOs or governments can better integrate this approach into their programs effectively.”  
     
    The program is cost effective, with positive returns in five of six countries, ranging from 133 percent in Ghana to 433 percent in India. In other words, for every dollar spent on the program in India, ultra-poor households saw $4.33 in long-term benefits. “The Graduation approach has led to broad improvements in key dimensions of economic and non-economic well-being in most countries where it was tested. Policymakers seeking a program to sustainably improve the lives of the very poor should consider investing in this approach,” according to study co-author Esther Duflo of MIT's economics department and Director at the Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab (J-PAL).
     
    The government of Ethiopia plans to expand the program to benefit three million people through the country’s Productive Safety Net Program, and the program is already being scaled up in Pakistan and India. A key factor for decision-makers using the model is how comprehensive the evaluation was: "The positive results across such a range of different settings is highly encouraging, and gives us substantial confidence that this approach works for individuals, can be an effective strategy for governments, and can be a tremendous guide to improve the livelihoods of poor families," said Frank DeGiovanni, a director at the Ford Foundation, which helped build and fund the effort.  
     
    According to Innovations for Poverty Action Executive Director Annie Duflo, “Governments, aid organizations, and donors have been looking for something backed by real evidence showing it can help the poorest of the world, and this Graduation approach does exactly that.” 
     
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    Downloadable media (right click and "save as"):
    Infographic here
    Photos from Peru (credit: Michael Rizzo/CGAP): Photo 1Photo 2 Photo 3
     
    Publication citation: 
     
    Banerjee, Abhijit, Esther Duflo, Nathanael Goldberg, Dean Karlan, Robert Osei, William Parienté, Jeremy Shapiro, Bram Thuysbaert, and Christopher Udry. 2015. “A Multi-faceted Program Causes Lasting Progress for the Very Poor: Evidence from Six Countries.” Science.
     
     
    Contacts: 
    Jeff Mosenkis, Innovations for Poverty Action (IPA), 203‐672‐9552, jmosenkis@poverty-action.org 
    Sophie Beauvais, The Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab (J-PAL), 617-324-4498, sbeauvai@mit.edu
    Sue Pleming, Consultative Group to Assist the Poor (CGAP), 202-330-2683, spleming@worldbank.org
     
    Implementing Partners by country:
    Relief Society of Tigray, Ethiopia; Presbyterian Agricultural Services and IPA, Ghana; Proyecto MIRE, Honduras; Bandhan, India; Pakistan Poverty Alleviation Fund, Agha Khan Planning and Building Services, Badin Rural Development Society, Indus Earth Trust, Sindh Agricultural and Forestry Workers Coordinating Organization, Pakistan; Association Arariwa, PLAN International, Peru.
     
     
    Innovations for Poverty Action (IPA) discovers and promotes effective solutions to global poverty problems. IPA designs, rigorously evaluates, and refines these solutions and their applications together with decision-makers to ensure that the evidence created is used to improve opportunities for the world’s poor. In the ten years since its founding IPA has worked with over 250 leading academics to conduct over 400 evaluations in 51 countries. www.poverty-action.org
     
    The Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab (J-PAL) was established in 2003 as a research center at MIT’s Department of Economics. Since then, it has built a global network of 120 affiliated professors and regional offices in Africa, Europe, North America, South Asia, Southeast Asia, and Latin America and the Caribbean. J-PAL’s mission is to reduce poverty by ensuring that policy is informed by scientific evidence. It does this by working with governments, non-profits, foundations and other development organizations to conduct rigorous impact evaluations in the field, policy outreach to widely disseminate the lessons from research, and building the capacity of practitioners to generate and use evidence. Over 202 million people have been reached by the scale-up of programs evaluated by J-PAL and found to be effective. www.povertyactionlab.org.
     
    The Consultative Group to Assist the Poor (CGAP) is a global partnership of 34 leading organizations that seek to advance financial inclusion. CGAP develops innovative solutions through practical research and active engagement with financial service providers, policy makers and funders to enable approaches at scale. Founded in 1995 and housed at the World Bank, CGAP combines a pragmatic approach to responsible market development with an evidence-based advocacy platform to increase access to the financial services the poor need to improve their lives. www.cgap.org
     
  • IPA Small and Medium Enterprise Program announces new RFP

    May 04/15 | From the newsroom | 
     
    IPA's Small and Medium Enterprise (SME) Program is pleased to announce its' ninth round of requests for proposals, with the deadline of June 15th, 2015. The program seeks to build a body of evidence on the effectiveness of programs and policies that promote SME growth. 
     
    SME Program Research Focus Areas
    The three key research areas of interest for the SME Program are:
    • Access to Finance
    • Human Capital and Skills
    • Access to Markets and Information
    In addition, there are three cross-cutting themes that are relevant to each of our research areas:economic growth, poverty alleviation & job creation, and social empowerment & gender.  
     
    See more at the full announcement page here.
  • The Economist on IPA study of taxation, corruption, and loss aversion

    Apr 27/15 | From the newsroom | 
    The Economist reports on the IPA study by Lucy Martin of Yale and IPA-Uganda, in which participants played games with corruption losses framed as from aid or tax coffers. Read the full article here.
  • The Guardian Sustainable Business: How should we gauge the success of poverty interventions?

    Apr 23/15 | From the newsroom | 
     
    Writing in the Guardian Sustainable Business blog, Marc Gunther asks How should we gauge the success of poverty intervention? He reviews the new book 100 under $100: One Hundred Tools for Empowering Global Women, which discusses a number of innovations, and the work IPA and J-PAL are doing to evaluate effectiveness.
  • IPA study in Science shows sanitation improves when multiple approaches are combined

    Apr 23/15 | From the newsroom | 
     
    A new IPA study published in Science tested the effectiveness of a popular sanitation education/promotion program in Bangladesh. The program, in use in 60 countries, had no effect alone but did when combined with subsidies to build latrines.  Read more in the announcement here, the project summay here, summary from Science here, and full article (gated) here. Additional coverage from Voice of AmericaArs TechnicaScience 2.0, Science Codex, Medical News Today, and Medical Xpress.  

     

  • Dean Karlan and Jonathan Zinman on financial services in developing countries

    Apr 23/15 | From the newsroom | 
     
    IPA founder and President Dean Karlan of Yale, and Jonathan Zinman of Dartmouth write for the National Bureau of Economic Research in their new review Pricing and Marketing Household Financial Services in Developing Countries. In the article, they discuss the latest research from IPA and others on the best ways to extend financial services to the poor and in low income countries. Read the full piece here.
  • EduLAB Media Mentions

    Martes, 21 de Abril de 2015

    El 17 de abril el profesor Francisco Gallego, director científico de J-PAL LAC, participó en el taller Laboratorio Innovaciones Costo-Efectivas organizado por el Ministerio de Educación del PerúJ-PAL LAC e Innovation for Poverty Action (IPA) Perú cuyo objetivo fue promover la colaboración con EduLAB, el laboratorio de innovación en política educativa de la Secretaría de Planificación Estratégica del Ministerio de Educación peruano. EduLAB  busca identificar espacios de mejora en la política educativa y trabaja con académicos para desarrollar intervenciones de bajo costo basadas en evidencia científica. En su exposición, el profesor Gallego se refirió a la importancia de la innovación y el uso y generación de evidencia para mejorar la eficacia y la eficiencia de la política educativa.

    En el taller participaron además Jorge Mesinas, secretario de Planificación Estratégica del Ministerio de Educación; Juan Manuel Hernández, J-PAL LAC Policy Manager; Fabiola Cáceres, especialista en Evaluación de la Unidad de Seguimiento y Evaluación, Estratégica y  Daniel Anavitarte, jefe de la Oficina de Seguimiento y Evaluación Estratégica.

    El evento reunió a funcionarios de las unidades implementadoras del Ministerio, investigadores, personal de Edulab, así como, personal de J-PAL LAC e IPA, con el fin de explorar oportunidades para diseñar intervenciones innovadoras en política educativa. 

     

    Más información
  • When does business training work?

    Apr 20/15 | From the newsroom | 
     
    The International Growth Centre features a blog post by Stephen Anderson-Macdonald, on his IPA study with Bilal Zia and Rajesh Chandy, looking at the mixed history of research on business training for micro-entreprenurs in developing countries and asking if all business training is the same?  They separated out finance from marketing trianing, and compared each to a control group, finding that they both worked, but seem to work by different routes, and differently for different people. Read his full post here, and a summary of the project here.
  • Subsidies Key in Improving Sanitation, New Study Finds

    Apr 16/15 | Announcement | 
     
     
    April 16, 2015, NEW HAVEN, CT – With poor sanitation estimated to cause 280,000 deaths per year worldwide, improving sanitation is a key policy goal in many developing countries. Yet governments and major development institutions disagree over how to address the problem. A new study released in Science today found that in Bangladesh, a community-motivation model that has been used in over 60 countries to increase use of hygienic latrines had no effect, yet latrine coverage expands substantially when that model is combined with subsidies for hygienic latrines targeted to the poor. 
     
    The study, led by Raymond Guiteras of the University of Maryland and James Levinsohn and Mushfiq Mobarak of Yale University, and implemented by Innovations for Poverty Action, tested three different approaches that are commonly used in the development sector for increasing the use of hygienic latrines.  Reducing open defecation, which is still practiced by 15 percent of the world’s population, is a key policy goal for this sector. The study took place in northwest Bangladesh, in an area where 50 percent of the population had access to a hygienic latrine before the study began.
     
    “While there is general agreement among development professionals and institutions about the importance of improving access to hygienic latrines, there is still vigorous debate about the most cost-effective ways to achieve this.” said Mobarak. “Is the problem a lack of cash, or is the problem an absence of strong community norms against open defection? Even when households are willing to pay for hygienic latrines, does lack of access to toilet components or lack of information about quality or installation methods impede adoption?”
     
    Researchers randomly assigned 380 neighborhood communities, or 18,254 households total, to one of four groups. Villages either received a community motivation program, subsidy vouchers with the community motivation program, information and technical support, or none of the above. By comparing outcomes in latrine coverage, investment in hygienic latrines, and open defecation between the groups over time, researchers were able to compare the effect of the different approaches.
     
    The subsidy vouchers, which were only provided to a random subset of households in the second group through a public lottery, could be redeemed for a 75 percent discount on available models of latrines, priced (after subsidy) from $5 to $12. The households were responsible for their own transportation and installation costs, and the richest 25 percent of households were not eligible for vouchers.  
     
    The community motivation program, called the Latrine Promotion Program (LPP), was modeled after “Community-Led Total Sanitation”, which focuses on behavioral change and community mobilization in eliminating open defection. Such programs have been implemented in over 60 countries worldwide.
     
    Researchers found that the community motivation model alone did not significantly increase adoption of hygienic latrines or reduce open defection relative to the comparison group, nor did providing information and technical support to community members.
    However, the subsidy had substantial effects when coupled with the community motivation program, increasing hygienic latrine coverage by 22 percentage points among subsidized households and 8.5 percentage points among their unsubsidized neighbors.
    This suggests that latrine investment decisions are inter-linked across neighbors, and that there are positive effects on others of subsidizing even a few households. People were more likely to invest if more of their neighbors received vouchers, pointing to a virtuous cycle where adoption of improved latrines spurs further adoption.
     
    Adding subsidies to the community motivation model also reduced open defection rates by 22 percent among adults in villages that received subsidies (including households that did not receive subsidies), relative to the comparison group.
     
    These results counter the concern among many development practitioners that subsidies undermine intrinsic motivation. Rather, this research shows price is a primary barrier, which is consistent with a growing body of research on adoption of health products.
     
    “These results have particularly important implications in densely populated developing countries, such as India and Bangladesh, where sanitation coverage is low and the public health consequences are high,” said Annie Duflo, Executive Director of Innovations for Poverty Action. “The study also teaches us about how to conduct ‘smart subsidy’ policy, allocating subsidies in a way that maximizes the chances of behavioral changes among neighbors. Given how widespread the community motivation model is, the results of this study can help the sector allocate funds more efficiently,” Duflo said.
     
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    Contacts:
     
    Heidi McAnnally-Linz, Innovations for Poverty Action, 203-974-2976, hlinz@poverty-action.org
     
    Sophie Beauvais, The Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab (J-PAL), 617-324-4498, sbeauvai@mit.edu
     
    Innovations for Poverty Action (IPA)is a research and policy non-profit that discovers and promotes effective solutions to global poverty problems. IPA brings together researchers and decision-makers to design, rigorously evaluate, and refine these solutions and their applications, ensuring that the evidence created is used to improve opportunities for the world’s poor. www.poverty-action.org.
     
    The Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab (J-PAL)was established in 2003 as a research center at MIT’s Department of Economics. Since then, it has built a global network of 117 affiliated professors and regional offices in Africa, Europe, North America, South Asia, South East Asia, and Latin America and the Caribbean. J-PAL’s mission is to reduce poverty by ensuring that policy is informed by scientific evidence. It does this by working with governments, non-profits, foundations and other development organizations to conduct rigorous impact evaluations in the field, policy outreach to widely disseminate the lessons from research, and building the capacity of practitioners to generate and use evidence. Over 200 million people have been reached by the scale-up of programs evaluated by J-PAL and found to be effective. Find J-PAL on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and YouTube.
     
  • IPA, randomized controlled trials and researcher Lori Beaman in Burkina Faso news

    Apr 09/15 | From the newsroom | 
     
    Burkina Faso's Tribune profiles PI Lori Beaman and the role of randomized controlled trials in development using the project Agricultural Microfinance in Mali as an example. Full article here (PDF, in French).
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