Democracy in many developing countries is undermined by the widespread provision of cash or goods for votes (i.e., vote buying). During the 2016 Ugandan elections, researchers conducted a randomized evaluation of an anti-vote-buying campaign to study voter behavior and electoral outcomes. While the campaign did not reduce the extent of vote buying, it had substantial effects on electoral outcomes.

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Citizen trust and participation in the political system are necessary for stable democratic regimes. During the 2013 National Elections in Kenya, the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) sent text messages to approximately two million registered voters to promote public interest and knowledge and to raise voter turnout. Researchers found that the text message campaign increased voter turnout but decreased trust in the electoral commission.

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Facebook Campaign

Electoral irregularities—illegal activities seeking to influence elections—often threaten democratic institutions in low- and middle-income countries. In Colombia, researchers conducted a randomized evaluation to measure the impact of an intervention that encouraged citizens to report irregularities to a local NGO and varied whether candidates were informed about the reporting campaign.

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Deforestation is the second largest human source of carbon dioxide emissions. Mexico has a "payments for ecosystem services" (PES) program to provide economic incentives to landowners to minimize deforestation, but budget cuts have been recurring over the past years. Researchers are conducting a pilot study in one municipality of Selva Lacandona (Chiapas)  to find ways to improve the cost-effectiveness of the program.

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The Supreme Court of the Philippines has introduced several reforms to address the longstanding issues of high volume of pending cases and severe delays in case disposition, which consequently deny citizens the ability to access swift and fair justice. One of these reforms is an electronic case management (eCourt) system that records case information and allows courts and other judicial stakeholders to monitor case incidents in real time.

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The Supreme Court of the Philippines has introduced several reforms to address the longstanding issues of high volume of pending cases and severe delays in case disposition, which consequently deny citizens the ability to access swift and fair justice.

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The Supreme Court of the Philippines has introduced several reforms to address the longstanding issues of high volume of pending cases and severe delays in case disposition, which consequently deny citizens the ability to access swift and fair justice.

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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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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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Community policing, which aims to create opportunities for positive, mutually respectful interactions between civilians and the police, may increase citizen trust and enhance the ability of police to enforce the law, but little evidence has existed on this model outside of the US and other developed countries.

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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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When people have formal rights to their land, are they more likely to invest in it? Do changes in land tenure affect gender equality in the household?

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Public insecurity and widespread mistrust of police among citizens is associated with decreased police legitimacy, which has negative consequences for effective policing. Research has demonstrated that when police officers interact with citizens following principles of procedural justice, citizens leave those interactions—even contentious ones—with an increased perception of trust in the police, which enhances legitimacy and efficacy.

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Community-based approaches to development, also called community-driven development (CDD), seek to empower local communities to identify and implement the projects they most need. Researchers in this study in the Philippines are evaluating the impact of a national community-driven development program on governance, social capital, and socio-economic welfare.

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Cox's Bazar intervention

Despite the scale and persistence of forced displacement, little data and evidence exists to inform long-term policy responses. The arrival of hundreds of thousands of refugees in southern Bangladesh beginning in August 2017 poses a significant policy question: how to integrate refugees into the host economy while simultaneously maintaining or improving the wellbeing of nationals.

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