News and Announcements
- Jun 13/12 | From the newsroom |
We are pleased to announce our FOURTH ROUND of Research Funding for Entrepreneurship and SME Growth. The goal of the fund is to support innovative research to build a systemic body of evidence on the contribution of SMEs and entrepreneurship to poverty alleviation and economic development. We hope this competition will have a catalyzing effect to stimulate high quality research on the role of access to finance, human capital, and markets for SME growth and their contribution to development. Please see the Competitive Fund page for more information.
Dean Karlan spoke at the 2012 World Economic forum on East Asia in Bangkok about what works and doesn’t work in fighting poverty. In a wide-ranging conversation with Brian A. Gallagher, of United Way Worldwide, John McArthur, Senior Fellow, United Nations Foundation, Nadya Saib, Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Wangsa Jelita in Indonesia, and Shinta Widjaja Kamdani, Managing Director of Sintesa Group, also of Indonesia, Dean cautioned about why we should beware of goals that are too ambitious, and pointed out why outcomes are sometimes different than what you might expect.
You can find video of the full event here.
A recent evaluation of Chile's supplier development program aimed at improving the linkages between small and medium enterprises and their larger customers showed that the program had positive impacts on the smaller firms, with firms increasing sales, employing more workers, and improving their survival capabilities, among other things.
An expert panel of 65 researchers has culminated with the Copenhagen Consensus 2012, a panel of economists including four Nobel laureates tasked with identifying the smartest ways to allocate money to respond to ten of the world’s biggest challenges. Deworming is ranked fourth in their list of 16 smarters ways to allocate money. An excerpt:
Nobel laureate economist Robert Mundell said: “Deworming is an overlooked intervention deserving of greater attention and resources. This simple, cheap investment can mean a child is healthier and spends more time in school.”
Niranjan Rajadhyaksha encourages Indians to give but to make sure their giving counts. He uses IPA research to point out why it's all about how you ask and goes on to explain why causes like deworming are among the most effective charities to spend your giving budget. An excerpt:
The experiment was conducted by Dean Karlan of Yale University and John List of The University of Chicago. Here’s what they did: They sent letters seeking donations for a charity focused on poverty reduction to two sets of people— those who had previously donated to the charity and those who had not. One set of letters told potential donors that their contribution would be matched by a similar sum by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation while another set of letters made no mention of such a matching grant.
The result from both groups was basically the same. Those who were told about the matching grant from the Gates foundation tended to give more. Charities seeking donations usually reach out to people who do not have credible information about its activities. I am sure several of us face this problem; we feel strongly about a particular issue but do not know enough about the people who approach us for money. What the promise of a matching grant did in the experiment conducted by Karlan and List is that it gave potential donors a credible signal that even the Gates foundation had confidence in the charity.
The Christian Science Monitor profiles the work of our partner, J-PAL, as well as some IPA projects, as they point out that perhaps Americans and Europeans who are stressed at the prospects of job growth might have something to learn from the evaluations of what works for the poor around the world. An excerpt:
In both America and Europe, people are pessimistic about the ability of politicians to spur job growth. Traditional economic theories – either left or right – are failing as millions of people face years of being without work or underemployed. And as the stress of daily living rises, the jobless often make poor choices, such as not reeducating themselves.
Is there a solution to this gloom?https://poverty-action.org/node/add/story
Perhaps one lies in a hot new approach being tried in the world’s poorest countries, where people living under long-term poverty may have something to teach those in wealthy countries.
A group of behavioral economists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Harvard, Yale, Princeton, and elsewhere are challenging traditional antipoverty policy by conducting experiments in slums and villages to show which competing ideas of development actually work, much like randomized testing in the pharmaceutical industry. They try to avoid generalizing their results, knowing that simplistic ideas are not always easy to replicate, even in the next village.
The history of antipoverty policy, state MIT economists Abhijit Banerjee and Esther Duflo, “is littered with the detritus of instant miracles that proved less than miraculous.”
Yet if they have one overarching conclusion, it is this: The poor often stay poor because of the stress of daily survival; but given enough hope of a better future, they respond like everyone else.
USAID praises Ghana for its advancement in primary education enrollment and highlights the work of the recent Evidence-Based Education conference. An excerpt:
The conference dubbed “Evidence Based Education: Policy-Making and Reform in Africa”, is being co-hosted by Innovations for Poverty Action (IPA), the Ghana Education Service (GES), The Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab (J-PAL) and USAID.
Through the evaluation of the Teacher Community Assistant Initiative and other efforts, the government of Ghana has demonstrated its willingness to make further improvements in social programmes based on scientific evidence. This openness to new ideas and enthusiasm for change is what has brought about the conference.
The conference brings together leading development researchers, senior policy makers from African countries, representatives from international development organisations, foundations and NGOs, to discuss the importance of using scientific evidence from field evaluations to guide policy.
It is also to share randomised evaluations of innovative programmes that have proven to be highly effective, and to give organisations an opportunity to provide input on the future research agenda.
The Huffington Post highlights the necessity of deworming and its impact to call attention to a range of issues that should be addressed at the G8 summit. An excerpt:
Most people have never heard of elephantiasis, river blindness, snail fever, trachoma, hookworm, whipworm or roundworm. These seven parasitic and bacterial infections impact one in six people worldwide, including half a billion children. Without treatment, NTDs can lead to anemia, malnutrition, blindness and other severe physical and cognitive disabilities, perpetuating a cycle of poverty that continues from generation to generation.
The story of one girl in Bihar, India represents an experience shared by hundreds of millions of other children around the world. Twelve-year-old Jyoti recently battled an NTD infection that filled her body with intestinal worms, causing her to experience terrible bouts of nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. She grew weak and whenever she tried to eat, she felt like she couldn't get food down her throat. And though she was an excellent student, Jyoti lacked the energy to perform well in school.
Thankfully for children like Jyoti, the solution to these diseases is readily at hand. A simple packet of pills, donated by pharmaceutical companies, can be used to treat and prevent infection from all seven NTDs for an entire year. The treatment programs are so simple that volunteers, community health workers and even teachers can administer them, bringing the annual cost of NTD prevention to about 50 cents per person and making it one of the most cost-effective public health programs around today.
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