In Uganda, rural households face challenges in ensuring that children attend school due to high school fees and a mismatch in the timing of when fees are due and when income is earned. Researchers are evaluating the impact of a digital school fee loan, with and without a direct repayment incentive, on repayment rates, households’ well-being, and students’ educational outcomes.

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Saving for multiple goals at the same time is difficult, especially for individuals without access to formal bank accounts. In Malawi, researchers offered micro-entrepreneurs either single or multiple lockboxes to evaluate the impact of the boxes on savings and other business and financial outcomes. Individuals offered multiple lockboxes saved more than those offered a single lockbox, suggesting that providing lockboxes may be a cost-effective way to promote savings.

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In Mexico, as in many other countries, retirement savings levels are low. The situation is worse for informal workers and the unemployed, who cannot rely on employer contributions to help build their nest eggs.

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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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Inadequate nourishment in the first years of life can impair children’s physical and cognitive development, with long-term consequences on their earnings and productivity. In Myanmar, which has one of the highest rates of stunting in the Asia-Pacific region, IPA worked with researchers to evaluate the impact of cash transfers to mothers––both with and without social and behavioral change communication (SBCC) ––on determinants and indicators of child malnutrition.

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Remittances are one of the largest sources of financial flows to low- and middle-income countries, and researchers and decision-makers are interested in ways to increase their development impact. One promising approach is enabling migrants to label the remittances that they send home for a specific purpose, such as education or business activities.

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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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Many Americans have accumulated staggering debt loads, limiting their ability to achieve financial stability. While some nonprofit and financial institutions have programs designed to help borrowers repay and reduce debt with personalized debt management plans, many people drop out of these programs in the first year.

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Many poor women around the world rely on sexual partners for the purpose of financial assistance, particularly when faced with financial setbacks. Providing these women with appropriate financial tools has the potential to reduce transactional sex as a coping strategy and reduce exposure to sexually transmitted infections.

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Many farming households in sub-Saharan Africa lack access to formal credit and struggle to make ends meet between harvests. In a previous evaluation, researchers found that increasing access to credit during the hungry season helped farming households in rural Zambia allocate labor more efficiently, leading to improvements in productivity and well-being.

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In Pakistan, take-up and use of mobile money accounts has been relatively low despite the fact that mobile money is potentially less expensive, more convenient, and can offer a wider range of financial services than many other payment channels. Researchers aimed to conduct a randomized evaluation investigating the impact of incentivizing mobile account holders to refer their friends or relatives to use mobile money on the take-up and sustained usage of mobile money.

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Digital loans, through mobile platforms such as Kenya’s M-Pesa, may be a way to increase access to affordable credit. Researchers used a regression discontinuity design to measure the impact of M-Shwari, a short-term savings and loan service run through M-Pesa, on access to credit, resilience, and savings of Kenyan households. Results show M-Shwari increased access to credit from any source.

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Low-income women disproportionately lack access to credit in developing countries, often because they are less likely to have credit histories, property rights, or formal earnings. Researchers are partnering with a bank and a mobile money operator in the Dominican Republic to evaluate the impact of credit scoring models designed specifically for women on access to credit.

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The adoption of mobile technology and mobile internet has expanded rapidly in Kenya in recent years, facilitated by increased access to mobile broadband and the spread of low-cost smartphones and tablets. Researchers are partnering with a leading mobile network operator to investigate how the internet affects financial and economic outcomes, particularly for women.

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Despite the rapid global expansion of mobile phone coverage, many isolated, rural communities do not have connectivity. In the Philippines, researchers are evaluating the impact of installing cellular towers and providing free SIM cards for mobile phone use on communication activity and frequency, social ties, access to information, migration and labor market outcomes, bargaining power and market prices, and income and employment decisions. 

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