Low-capacity governments can face challenges in collecting the tax revenues necessary to promote economic development and provide public goods to their citizens. In partnership with Melchia Investments, a private Ghanaian technology company, researchers are conducting a pilot randomized evaluation to identify the effectiveness of a new tax collection technology in increasing property tax revenues for local governments.

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People often report wanting to save more money than they actually do, and rigorous evidence has shown that simple reminders to save can be effective at helping people save more. Researchers working with IPA carried out evaluations in Ghana, Peru, the Philippines, and the Dominican Republic to build the evidence base about text-message reminders to save. In Ghana, the research team worked with Fidelity Bank to evaluate the impact of behaviorally targeted text messages on savings behavior.

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Household food security, defined as stable access to sufficient and nutritious food, is critical in the early years to meet a child’s developmental needs.

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Graduating the Ultra Poor in Ghana

More than one fifth of the world’s population lives on less than US$1.25 per day. While many credit and training programs have not been successful at raising income levels for these ultra-poor households, recent support for livelihoods programs has spurred interest in evaluating whether comprehensive “big push” interventions may allow for a sustainable transition to self-employment and a higher standard of living.

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In Ghana, many traditional credit providers like banks and microfinance institutions are wary of extending credit to small-scale farmers, fearful that they will inherit the risks inherent to farming; with limited access to traditional, formal credit, many farmers must rely on costly, informal loans. Researchers are evaluating the impact of an innovative mobile phone-based digital finance program on loan repayment rates, investment decisions, savings, and use of other financial services, as we

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Youth unemployment and underemployment are pressing policy challenges in Sub-Saharan Africa and job-training programs have not proven to be effective (or cost-effective) at improving youth labor market outcomes. In Ghana, researchers conducted a randomized evaluation to estimate the impact of a government program that placed young people in traditional apprenticeships and matched them with training providers.

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More than a third of all women of reproductive age in sub-Saharan Africa are anemic. Women from low-income communities involved in fish-smoking may be at increased risk because of inadequate diets, exposure to infectious pathogens, as well as particulate matter and other pollutants through smoke.

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Despite major global progress in vaccination coverage, many children and young infants are vaccinated late, leaving them susceptible to life threatening, preventable illnesses. In Ghana, researchers are conducting a cluster randomized evaluation to investigate the impact of mobile-phone based reminders and an incentive system on early vaccination coverage. 

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Ghanaian girls dancing in drama presentation

Women face significant barriers to participation and leadership in politics and government in many countries, including Ghana. Shortly before Ghana’s 2016 presidential and parliamentary elections, researchers evaluated whether community meetings focused on encouraging women’s participation in local politics could close the gender gap that exists in grassroot politics. The evaluation found no change in women’s political participation or in views of gender norms in local politics.

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For millions of smallholder farmers in Sub-Saharan Africa, the shift from subsistence agriculture to engagement with markets is a promising way to improve rural livelihoods. However, engaging with markets often requires the difficult task of adopting new inputs, such as improved seed varieties and fertilizers, as well as implementing new farming techniques.

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Ghana, like many countries in sub-Saharan Africa, has greatly expanded access to primary school in the last two decades, but very few children meet academic standards for their grade.

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Around the world, studies show that children’s health and cognitive development tend to be higher when parents have more education. However, it is unclear whether education itself causes improved child health, or if other factors account for this relationship.

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Testing Agricultural Technologies

Using improved hybrid seed varieties may generate higher yields for maize farmers in sub-Saharan Africa—where agricultural productivity is low relative to other regions—but many farmers have not adopted these seeds. This project, which was not a randomized evaluation, studied the comparative yields of several seed varieties and farmer purchasing decisions in an effort to understand the performance and adoption of seed varieties in northern Ghana.

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As in many other developing countries, children under the age of five in rural Ghana often fail to reach their developmental potential. Researchers partnered with the Institute for Fiscal Studies and the organization Lively Minds to evaluate the impact of a low-cost, play-based learning program on early childhood cognitive development.

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Prior evidence on small grants programs to female-owned businesses has found that women entrepreneurs are less likely to invest this capital into their businesses than men are. The intersection between household and business needs seems to play a role in this.

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