Evidence suggests that facilitating access to formal savings services can increase savings, investment, and income among the poor in developing countries. However, use of these accounts is relatively low, and it is less clear how to increase interest in, and usage of, formal savings services among the poor.
Differences in managerial quality appear to be critical to explaining productivity differences across firms, with poorly managed firms potentially unable to take advantage of opportunities for high growth. The question this study seeks to address is how to bridge the management gap among small and medium enterprises (SMEs).
Recent technological innovations may provide effective tools for monitoring public sector employees’ performance. Researchers partnered with the Government of Paraguay to measure the impact of GPS-enabled cell phones on the job performance of agricultural extension agents.
Many students in Sub-Saharan Africa are not learning to read in their first years of school and literacy rates remain low in the region. Researchers partnered with the Kenyan Ministry of Education to evaluate the impact of two strategies aimed at improving the literacy skills of school children in Kenya: enhanced literacy instruction, through teacher training and text message support, and child-to-child reading groups.
Efficient targeting of public programs is difficult when the costs or benefits to potential recipients are unobservable. This study examined the potential of self-selection to improve allocational efficiency in the context of a program that subsidized tree planting in Malawi.
Researchers used two experiments to identify whether the motive for giving in public can be primarily linked to a desire for prestige (the “image” effect) or a hope that a public gift will influence others (the “signal” effect). They found that a desire to improve social image largely explained why public recognition of contributions to charitable organizations increased individual donations in the United States.
Informational campaigns and price subsidies are common ways to increase the use of health products in developing countries, but little is known about the effect of combining these tools. In Zambia, researchers investigated whether households’ demand for chlorine at varying subsidy levels was dependent on their knowledge of the product. They found that providing additional information about chlorine significantly increased the impact of price subsidies on demand for the product.
Especially in developing countries, there is little evidence about the mechanisms through which compensation impacts worker productivity. To examine this relationship, researchers evaluated the effect of randomly offering varied wages to bean-sorting workers in rural Malawi. While offering higher wages caused workers to increase their productivity, it did not attract more productive workers.
Adoption of agricultural technologies like fertilizer and improved seeds is low in African countries compared to other developing countries and evidence suggests that using these technologies can dramatically increase farm productivity and income. In an ongoing study, researchers are collaborating with One Acre Fund to examine the effect of credit and savings on the adoption of fertilizer and hybrid seeds, farm productivity, and farmer livelihoods.
While political debates are often considered an integral part of campaign strategy, there is little definitive evidence on whether they affect how people vote. In Sierra Leone, researchers partnered with the civil society organization Search for Common Ground to evaluate how the dissemination of political information through debates impacts voter behavior, campaign spending, and the performance of elected politicians.
In 2012, remittances from migrant workers to developing countries were roughly three times the total amount of global foreign aid, yet little is known about how to make these funds work better.12 Researchers in this study explored this in two ways: First, they introduced a financial product that enabled migrant workers to pay schools in the Philippines
Providing cash grants to the poor without any strings attached has been shown to have important welfare benefits for recipients, including significant increases in income, assets, psychological wellbeing, and female empowerment. Yet less is known about how this sudden influx of income affects the rest of the village, and in particular, the effects on non-recipients.
Few subsistence farmers engage in paid labor, even when pursuing these opportunities would enable them to earn more and protect against risk. A variety of factors may influence this trend, including poor nutrition, the complexity of the work, and lack of access to financial services. Researchers designed an employment program in northern Ghana and evaluated participants’ willingness to engage in paid labor and carry out complex tasks on the job.
Numerous developing country governments, such as Brazil and Mexico, have adopted conditional cash transfer (CCT) programs as a social safety net, providing billions of dollars in transferred funds to millions of poor citizens. However, most of these recipients have no previous experience with formal financial products.
What’s holding back impoverished women? Can small grants programs help the most vulnerable women develop sustainable livelihoods? Do employment and poverty relief empower them and improve their lives? This evaluation assessed the impact of a program that gave cash grants and basic business skills training to the poorest and most excluded women in post-war northern Uganda. The program led to dramatic increases in business and reductions in poverty.
Health remains a major barrier to economic development in poor rural areas. Access to effective health products, whether preventive or curative, has so far remained limited due in large part to poverty and the absence of financial markets that would enable poor households to invest in health on credit. Given such constraints, poor households should save in anticipation of future health shocks.
Previous research suggests that charging even very small user fees sharply limits access to preventive health care, such as bed nets or home water purification. While distributing health products for free in low-income countries is common, it is unclear whether this is the best practice for all products.
Intestinal worm infections are among the world’s most widespread diseases, with roughly one in four people infected worldwide. Research has shown that when children are treated with deworming medication, worm infections become less prevalent not only for children who received the medication, but for those who live in the same environment as treated children.
In Sub-Saharan Africa, about 1.8 million people became infected with the HIV virus in 2011, with the majority of new cases attributed to unprotected sex. This study tested whether providing sexual health information through SMS messaging could lower rates of risky behavior.