Chronic severe air pollution in Bogotá, Colombia has serious human health impacts. Using information and communication technologies (ICTs) to disseminate information about air quality may enable citizens to reduce their exposure to air pollution by, for example, avoiding outdoor exercise on certain days an in certain locations, and may also help change their environmental attitudes and policy preferences.

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The effectiveness of COVID-19 mitigation recommendations like social distancing and mask wearing depends critically on whether people comply with them, especially young adults who are less likely to suffer severe complications from the virus, but more likely to be infected by it and spread it.

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The global spread of COVID-19 and associated shelter-in-place orders have increased economic stress and intimate partner violence (IPV).[1] To tackle this challenge, researchers have partnered in Colombia with IPA, Fundación Capital and Comfama to evaluate the impact of an interactive WhatsApp

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Cash assistance in emergency settings has been shown to assist recipients in mitigating resulting economic fallout, for example through increased food security. The VAT Compensation, a new unconditional cash transfer in Colombia, will assist 1 million low-income households in navigating the economic crisis as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

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SME manufacturing

Startups in developing countries tend to grow more slowly on average than those in high-income countries, but the reasons why are not well understood. Researchers analyzed data on all manufacturers with more than 10 employees in Colombia and the U.S. over a period of 30 years to compare employment growth among manufacturers in each country.

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Exposure to violence, conflict, and other traumatic life events can have harmful effects on the economic, human, and social capital of individuals and their communities. Entrepreneurship and business skills training curricula have been commonly adopted as an approach for promoting socio-economic inclusion in fragile settings.

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Early educational experiences have been found to have a positive effect on students’ choice of math and science courses in later learning as well as their career aspirations. In Colombia, researchers are conducting a randomized evaluation to test the impact of an interactive multimedia preschool program on the math and science skills of children and the gender and racial stereotypes and beliefs of children, educators, and parents.

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Photo Credit: Colpensiones

In Colombia, as in many other countries, workers face many barriers to saving for retirement. The situation is much worse for informal workers, who make up about 65 percent of the total workforce in Colombia.

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Entrepreneurs in Bogota working with Agruppa

Microenterprises such as produce vendors face disadvantages compared to larger firms in sourcing inventory because they must travel frequently to restock and pay higher costs when doing so. Researchers evaluated Agruppa, a mobile phone-based technology service, which creates virtual buyer groups to buy more cheaply in bulk. The evaluation found that initial demand for the service was high, saving business owners time and expense, and increasing profits on certain staple goods.

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Urban armed groups, especially criminal gangs, are a growing threat to peace and economic growth in cities across the world, and often exert state-like powers such as enforcing contracts, policing, and taxing businesses.

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Photo of Person Holding Phone

Globally, bureaucrats are responsible for the day-to-day matters of policy implementation and government service provision. However, we know very little about how bureaucrats’ own interests and biases influence the ultimate distribution of public goods and services. To measure how citizens’ identities and the characteristics of their petitions affect municipal bureaucrats’ bias and efficiency, researchers conducted a national-scale audit of two of Colombia’s largest social service programs.

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Micro-loans are a promising means of promoting entrepreneurship[1], but conventional loan products are often unsuited to the needs of small businesses in developing countries. Offering microenterprise borrowers the ability to postpone loan payments when needed may encourage long-term investments in business expansion and help owners cope with financial hardship.

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Numerous governments in low- and middle-income countries, such as Brazil and Mexico, have adopted conditional cash transfer (CCT) programs as a social safety net, but most recipients of these transfers have little or no experience with formal financial products.

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Police forces in cities tend to focus their efforts on the highest-crime areas, but increasing state presence in the highest crime spots may simply displace crime to other areas, leaving overall crime levels unchanged. In Bogotá, Colombia, researchers partnered with the city to measure the impact of either concentrated policing, increased municipal clean-ups, or both on crime reduction and displacement.

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Peru Bank Photo Credit Dario Rodriguez

Financial products have the potential to help the poor, yet most financial institutions are driven by commercial goals, and their staff may not be incentivized to offer products most suitable to low-income clients. This audit study aims to determine the types of information institutions provide to low-income financial customers in urban Colombia, and identify any differences in institutions’ treatment of customers based on perceived financial knowledge.

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