Los barrios marginales y pobres de todo el mundo están ocupados por poderosos grupos criminales que cada vez reclutan más niños y adolescentes. ¿Qué factores llevan a las personas a unirse a estos grupos y cómo pueden los gobiernos evitar el reclutamiento? En Medellín, Colombia, una ciudad caracterizada por una alta presencia de grupos criminales denominados combos, unos investigadores están realizando un estudio para comprender el proceso de reclutamiento, identificar a los niños y los adolescentes en riesgo de ser reclutados y probar diferentes intervenciones para evitar el reclutamiento.

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Brief
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March 29, 2022
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La minería ilegal es prominente en todo el mundo, pero rara vez esta actividad se reporta ante las autoridades responsables de monitorearla. Colombia Mining Monitoring (CoMiMo) utiliza inteligencia artificial y tecnología satelital para localizar posibles puntos de ubicación de minas ilegales en Colombia. Usando esta tecnología, los investigadores revelaron la ubicación de minas a las autoridades locales y nacionales para medir su respuesta y determinar si esta información reduce o reubica la presencia de la minería ilegal.

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Brief
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March 23, 2022
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Las irregularidades electorales —actividades ilegales que buscan influir en las elecciones— a menudo amenazan las instituciones democráticas en los países de ingresos bajos y medios. En Colombia, los investigadores llevaron a cabo una evaluación aleatoria para medir el impacto de una intervención que alentaba a los ciudadanos a denunciar irregularidades a una ONG local y que variaba si los candidatos estaban informados sobre la campaña de denuncia. La campaña, realizada a través de Facebook, aumentó la cantidad de denuncias reportadas por los ciudadanos y redujo la cantidad de irregularidades observadas en las elecciones. Esta sencilla intervención fue más costo-efectiva que otros esfuerzos de monitoreo usados tradicionalmente.

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Brief
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February 08, 2022
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Throughout the developing world, citizens distrust the police and hesitate to bring crimes to their attention—a suboptimal equilibrium that makes it difficult for the police to effectively combat crime and violence. Community policing has been touted as one solution to this problem, but evidence on its efficacy in developing country contexts is sparse. We present results from a large-scale field experiment that randomly assigned a home-grown community policing intervention to police stations throughout rural Uganda. Drawing on administrative crime data and close to 4,000 interviews with citizens, police officers, and local authorities, we show that community policing had limited effects on core outcomes such as crime, insecurity, and perceptions of the police. We attribute these findings to a combination of turnover, treatment non-compliance, and resource constraints. Our study draws attention to the limits of community policing’s potential to reduce crime and build trust in the developing world.

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Working Paper
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February 01, 2022
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We examine how trust shapes compliance with public health restrictions during the COVID-19 pandemic in Uganda. We use an endorsement experiment embedded in a mobile phone survey to show that messages from government officials generate more support for public health restrictions than messages from religious authorities, traditional leaders, or international NGOs. We further show that compliance with these restrictions is strongly positively correlated with trust in government, but only weakly correlated with trust in local authorities or other citizens. The relationship between trust and compliance is especially strong for the Ministry of Health and—more surprisingly—the police. We conclude that trust is crucial for encouraging compliance but note that it may be difficult to change, particularly in settings where governments and police forces have reputations for repression.

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Working Paper
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January 01, 2022
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Working in partnership with local police agencies, we conducted six coordinated field experiments in Brazil, Colombia, Liberia, Pakistan, the Philippines, and Uganda. We collaborated with the police to implement locally appropriate increases in community policing practices. We planned for risks involved in partnering with the police by soliciting reports of police abuse and carefully selecting the areas we worked in and the police units we partnered with. We randomly assigned areas to either the community policing practices or a control group. Our interventions reached approximately 9 million people in 516 treated areas. At the end line, we surveyed 18,382 citizens and 874 police officers and obtained crime data from the police. We conducted experiments in multiple settings with common measures to strengthen the generalizability of our findings and preregistered a joint analysis of the six studies to reduce the risk of publication bias.

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November 26, 2021

Can information and communication technologies help citizens monitor their elections? We analyze a large-scale field experiment designed to answer this question in Colombia. We leveraged Facebook advertisements sent to over 4 million potential voters to encourage citizen reporting of irregularities and varied whether candidates were informed about the campaign in a subset of municipalities. Total reports, as well as evidence-backed ones, experienced a large increase. Across a wide array of measures, electoral irregularities decreased. Finally, the reporting campaign reduced the vote share of candidates dependent on irregularities. This light-touch intervention is more cost-effective than monitoring efforts traditionally used by policymakers.

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Working Paper
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October 28, 2021
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Lessons from randomized evaluations on managing and preventing crime, violence, and conflict
 

What are the most promising strategies for reducing crime, violence, and conflict? The past decade has seen a dramatic expansion in the experimental literature designed to help answer this question. Moving beyond evaluations of individual programs, increasingly, these studies are striving to test broader hypotheses about how programs work (i.e. what are the key program components driving change) and to generate insights into human behavior (i.e. why individuals may be motivated to act in certain ways).

This evidence review, prepared by staff at the Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab (J-PAL) and Innovations for Poverty Action (IPA) ) for the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO), offers a broad review of the expansion of this literature and seeks to capture some of the emerging insights from across these studies. The review has been prepared as part of J-PAL and IPA’s Governance, Crime and Conflict Initiative, a £15- million investment by FCDO launched in 2017 to produce new research on effective policies to promote peace and good governance, reduce crime, and support individuals and communities recovering from conflict.

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Report
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June 23, 2021
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Since the COVID-19 outbreak, scholars and journalists have spread anecdotes of gangs and criminal organizations coming to the aid of citizens, governing in place of the state. Researchers studied if gangs respond to COVID-19 in Medellín. Despite the headlines, gang involvement in pandemic response is exceptional and mostly idiosyncratic. Surveying every low- and middle-income neighborhood in Medellin, they find that most of the support for civilians comes from state authorities and not from gangs
 

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March 16, 2021

Medellín tiene unas estructuras de crimen organizado altamente jerárquicas y estructuradas. Con el objetivo de comprender cómo está organizada y cómo funciona esta estructura, durante los últimas tres años Innovations for Poverty Action, la Universidad de Chicago y la Universidad EAFIT han recolectado información sobre ella. Esto se ha hecho a través de entrevistas con integrantes de diferentes comunidades de la ciudad. En este documento se presentan los hallazgos de este trabajo. 

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Report
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March 16, 2021
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In partnership with the City of Medellín and community officials, EDI researchers co-designed a program of intensified government outreach and service delivery to test the impact of increased municipal governance on the roles and legitimacy of local gangs and the state. To design the program, researchers conducted interviews with more than 30 members of 19 criminal organizations over two years. Researchers combined findings from those interviews with administrative crime data and with surveys of city residents and businesses to learn about the organization and political economy of organized crime in Medellín. This EDI Policy Brief provides a summary of those findings to date

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Brief
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March 16, 2021
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We report the results of a randomized field experiment in the Philippines on the effects of two common anti-vote-selling strategies involving eliciting promises from voters. An invitation to promise not to vote-sell is taken up by most respondents, reduces vote-selling, and has a larger effect in races with smaller vote-buying payments. The treatment reduces vote-selling in the smallest-stakes election by 10.9 percentage points. Inviting voters to promise to “vote your conscience” despite accepting money is significantly less effective. The results are consistent with a behavioral model in which voters are only partially sophisticated about their vote-selling temptation.

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Published Paper
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March 01, 2021
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Gangs govern millions worldwide. Why rule? And how do they respond to states? Many argue that criminal rule provides protection when states do not, and that increasing state services could crowd gangs out. We began by interviewing leaders from 30 criminal groups in Medellín. The conventional view overlooks gangs’ indirect incentives to rule: governing keeps police out and fosters civilian loyalty, protecting other business lines. We present a model of duopolistic competition with returns to loyalty and show under what conditions exogenous changes to state protection cause gangs to change governance levels. We run the first gang-level field experiment, intensifying city governance in select neighborhoods for two years. We see no decrease in gang rule. We also examine a quasi-experiment. New borders in Medellín created discontinuities in access to government services for 30 years. Gangs responded to greater state rule by governing more. We propose alternatives for countering criminal governance.

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February 26, 2021

Encouraging citizens to apply pressure on underperforming service providers has emerged in recent years as a prominent response to the failure of states to provide needed services. We outline three theoretical mechanisms through which bottom-up citizen-oriented pressure campaigns may affect development outcomes and investigate them via a large-scale field experiment in the Ugandan health sector. While we find modest positive impacts on treatment quality and patient satisfaction, we find no effects on utilization rates, child mortality, or other health outcomes. We also find no evidence that citizens increased their monitoring or sanctioning of health workers. Our findings, therefore, cast doubt on the power of outside actors to generate bottom-up pressure by citizens or improvements in development outcomes. Held up against the findings of other, similar studies, our results point to the salience of mechanisms other than citizen pressure for improvements in service delivery, and to the importance of baseline health conditions for the success of bottom-up, citizen-oriented pressure campaigns. Such conditions shape outcomes both across countries and within countries over time, with the latter finding holding important implications for countries undergoing rapid socioeconomic change.

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Working Paper
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October 30, 2020
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En muchas ciudades del mundo, los grupos de crimen organizado representan una amenaza creciente para la paz y el desarrollo. Con el objetivo de comprender el funcionamiento de los grupos de crimen organizado de Medellín y evaluar intervenciones de política pública dirigidas a reducir el gobierno criminal ejercido por ellos, los investigadores realizaron diversas entrevistas, una encuesta y dos evaluaciones de impacto. Este documento resume los principales hallazgos.  

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Brief
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October 21, 2020

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