The use of military forces for public security tasks has become a common approach to combat crime and insecurity. Advocates of these “mano dura” (iron fist) policies view them as necessary to control crime, while detractors claim they undermine human rights. In Cali, Colombia, researchers conducted a randomized evaluation of a military policing program called “Plan Fortaleza” to rigorously measure the impacts of military policing on crime rates and human rights.

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

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Evidence suggests that socio-emotional skills, such as empathy and emotional regulation, play an important role in life outcomes, but little evidence exists on the impact of teaching these skills to very young children. In Colombia, researchers are evaluating how an early childhood curriculum with a socio-emotional focus impacts children’s competencies in empathy, inclusion, compassion, problem-solving, critical thinking, collaboration, emotional regulation, generosity, and advocating and car

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How do cash transfers support newly-designated vulnerable populations and informal workers during an economic crisis? To help answer these questions, researchers are studying the effect of Ingreso Solidario (Solidarity Income), a new unconditional cash transfer in Colombia that was launched in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

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The capacity of states to effectively allocate resources and serve the public good depends on the quantity and quality of information they have. This information is often collected through decentralized processes and requests to other public or private entities. But what happens when these entities do not respond? In Colombia, IPA worked with the Inspector Attorney General’s Office (PGN) to implement a low-cost strategy for collecting more and better information about transparency practices.

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Can redesigning pension statements increase the understanding of key facts related to the pension system and improve coverage? Researchers in Colombia partnered with Colpensiones, Colombia’s public pension fund administrator, to test the effect of redesigning pension statements on the beneficiaries' understanding of the information presented and the identification of potential errors in their statements.

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As migration patterns change, further evidence of the impact of regulatory programs in developing countries is needed. In Colombia, researchers are evaluating the impact of a temporary working and residence permit program for Venezuelan migrants. Outcomes to be studied include labor indicators, health and integration measures.

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More than 60 percent of global workers are employed in the informal sector, facing more challenges and risks than their formal sector counterparts. While governments and organizations have implemented programs to encourage formalization, progress is slower than hoped in Colombia. Researchers studied whether access to information promoted formalization in a low-income community.

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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, assists 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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