For democracies to function well, citizens need to hold leaders accountable, yet in many African nations demand for accountability appears low. This research tests the theory that because people are loss averse, taxation pushes citizens to demand more from their leaders.

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Heavily subsidizing essential health products like insecticide-treated bed nets has the potential to substantially decrease child mortality in sub-Saharan Africa, but there is widespread concern that poor governance and limited accountability among health workers undermines the effectiveness of subsidy programs . Researchers measured the impact of several financial and monitoring incentives on the quality of bed net delivery to pregnant women in Ghana .

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Promotional political posters in the Philippines

Vote-buying and vote-selling obstruct the democratic process, yet they remain pervasive in many developing democracies. Researchers asked voters in the Philippines to make a simple, unenforceable promise not to accept money from politicians or to promise to vote according to their conscience, even if they do accept money, to test the impact of promises on voters’ behavior. A majority of respondents made promises not to sell their votes.

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To foster economic productivity and stability in post-conflict countries, many development organizations have created economic programs and psychosocial programs aimed at vulnerable youth. In Liberia, Innovations for Poverty Action worked with researchers to evaluate the impacts of a cash-for-work program and a psychosocial support program on the behavior and labor outcomes of young people.

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Many local bureaucrats operate in settings with weak institutions and limited oversight, resulting in poor service delivery. A growing number of initiatives and studies seek to address this by empowering communities to monitor front-line service providers directly. This study tests another avenue: Empowering local politicians, who have the mandate but often lack the tools to monitor local bureaucrats, who in turn oversee front-line service providers.

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Some research suggests that individuals with higher levels of altruism are more attracted to public sector work, and recent studies indicate that public service motivation can serve as an indicator for strong job performance. Researchers conducted a randomized evaluation to test the impact of an all-expense-paid three-day leadership training workshop on incentivizing honest and competent youth to run for a village youth council.

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Many post-conflict countries suffer from high rates of crime, violence, and unrest. Early warning systems, if viable, would help police and peacekeepers anticipate violence before it happens. But is it possible to predict where violence will occur? In response to this question, researchers built a statistical model based on data IPA gathered over four years in the most conflict-prone areas of Liberia.

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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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The study is designed as a survey with an embedded experiment and took advantage of Mexico's privatized social security system, which requires workers to choose their retirement investment funds (AFOREs) from an approved list.  This research project will collect detailed survey data and implement a series of field experiments in order to further understand the factors that determine workers' investment choices.

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In Uganda, district governments are responsible for providing vital public services such as healthcare and education, but government accountability is relatively weak, leading to under-provision and low quality of services. Researchers worked with IPA to evaluate the impact of a program designed to improve local government accountability and the provision of services: disseminating information to citizens about district politicians’ performance via scorecards.

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Growing evidence from psychology and behavioral economics research shows that behavior can be influenced by leveraging social norms and emotions. Researchers examined the effect of a series of informational messages on participation in a recycling program in Peru. The messages sought to elicit pressures such as social norms, peer comparison, conformity, authority, and the environmental or social benefits to increased participation.

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While the accountability and inclusiveness of institutions are often considered key determinants of economic performance, there is little agreement about how institutions should be designed. Researchers evaluated the impact of a community-driven development program in Sierra Leone designed to establish more inclusive and accountable local decision-making infrastructure by providing villages with small development grants to be allocated by village committees.

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While primary school enrollment has risen sharply around the world, the quality of education remains low in many countries. Researchers examined whether increasing community oversight and participation could improve education outcomes in Uttar Pradesh, India.

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