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We posit that household decision-making over fertility is characterized by moral hazard since most contraception can only be perfectly observed by the woman. Using an experiment in Zambia that varied whether women were given access to contraceptives alone or with their husbands, we find that women given access with their husbands were 19 percent less likely to seek family planning services, 25 percent less likely to use concealable contraception, and 27 percent more likely to give birth. However, women given access to contraception alone report a lower subjective well-being, suggesting a psycho-social cost of making contraceptives more concealable.

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July 01, 2014
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Microfinance institutions have started to bundle their basic loans with other financial services, such as health insurance. Using a randomized control trial in Karnataka, India, we evaluate the impact on loan renewal from mandating the purchase of actuarially-fair health insurance covering hospitalization and maternity expenses. Bundling loans with insurance led to a 16 percentage points (23 percent) increase in drop-out from microfinance, as many clients preferred to give up microfinance than pay higher interest rates and receive insurance. In a Pyrrhic victory, the total absence of demand for health insurance led to there being no adverse selection in insurance enrollment.

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May 30, 2014
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There are few marketing studies of social learning about new technologies in lowincome countries. This paper examines how learning through opinion leaders and social networks influences demand for non-traditional cookstoves – a technology with important health and environmental consequences for developing country populations. We conduct marketing interventions in rural Bangladesh to assess how stove adoption decisions respond to (a) learning the adoption choices of locally identified ‘opinion leaders’ and (b) learning about stove attributes and performance through social networks. We find that households generally draw negative inferences about stoves through social learning, and that social learning is more important for stoves with less evident benefits. In an institutional environment in which consumers are distrustful of new products and brands, consumers appear to rely on their networks more to learn about negative product attributes. Overall, our findings imply that external information and marketing campaigns can induce initial adoption and experiential learning about unfamiliar technologies, but sustained use ultimately requires that new technologies match local preferences.

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May 02, 2014
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In Malawi, we have continued our global tradition of rigorous, applicable research by building foundational research capacity and conducting evaluations in areas of pressing national concern. Examples of our research below offer promising insights into everyday issues that affect the lives of the Malawian poor.

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May 01, 2014
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In Ghana, we have continued our global tradition of rigorous, applicable research by building foundational research capacity and conducting evaluations in areas of pressing national concern. Examples of our work below offer promising insights into everyday issues that affect the lives of the Ghanaian poor.

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April 01, 2014
English A4

In Kenya, we have continued our global tradition of rigorous, applicable research by building foundational research capacity and conducting evaluations in areas of pressing national concern. Examples of our research below offer promising insights into everyday issues that affect the lives of the Kenyan poor.

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April 01, 2014
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In Peru, we have continued our global tradition of rigorous, applicable research by building foundational research capacity and conducting evaluations in areas of pressing national concern. Examples of our research below offer promising insights into everyday issues that affect the lives of the Peruvian poor.

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April 01, 2014
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In Uganda, we have continued our global tradition of rigorous, applicable research by building foundational research capacity and conducting evaluations in areas of pressing national concern. Examples of our work below offer promising insights into everyday issues that affect the lives of the Ugandan poor.

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April 01, 2014
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Sexual health problems cause negative externalities from contagious diseases and public expenditure burdens from teenage pregnancies. In a randomized evaluation, we find that an online sexual health education course in Colombia leads to significant impacts on knowledge and attitudes but no impact on selfreported behavior, on average; although fewer STIs are reported for baseline sexually active females. To go beyond self-reported measures, we provide condom vouchers six months after the course to both treatment and control groups and estimate a 9 percentage point treatment effect (52% increase) on the likelihood of redemption. Using knowledge of friendship networks, we document a strong social reinforcement effect: the impacts of the course intensify when a larger fraction of a student’s friends is also treated. In particular, when full sets of friends are treated we find significant reductions in sexually active, frequency of sex, and number of partners. Throughout the analysis we fail to find evidence of cross-classroom spillovers.

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October 01, 2013
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In 2013 IPA celebrated ten years of producing high-quality evidence about what works, and what does not work, to improve the lives of the poor. It was a year of celebration for our accomplishments. More so, it was a time to prepare our organization for the next phase as we continue to pursue our vision of a world with More Evidence and Less Poverty.

 

View an online version of the report at annualreport.poverty-action.org/2013annualreport/

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September 01, 2013
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Does providing information about a product influence the impact of price subsidies on purchases? This question is particularly relevant for health products in developing countries where both informational campaigns and price subsidies are common policy instruments. We conduct a field experiment in Zambia and find that providing information about a new version of a product significantly increases the impact of price subsidies on take-up. Taken alone, the information manipulation has no significant impact on demand while the price subsidy substantially increases demand. However, the evaluation of either intervention in isolation fails to capture the significant complementarity between the two.

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August 20, 2013
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There is growing interest in using messaging to drive prosocial behaviors, which contribute to investment in public goods. The authors worked with a leading nongovernmental organization in Peru to randomize nine different prorecycling messages that were crafted on the basis of best practices, prior evidence, and theories of behavioral change. Different variants emphasized information on environmental or social benefits, social comparisons, social sanctions, authority, and reminders. None of the messages had significant effects on recycling behavior. However, reducing the cost of ongoing participation by providing a recycling bin significantly increased recycling among enrolled households.

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July 01, 2013
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This study estimates long-run impacts of a child health investment, exploiting community-wide experimental variation in school-based deworming. The program increased education among women and labor supply among men, with accompanying shifts in labor market specialization. Ten years after deworming treatment, women who were eligible as girls are 25% more likely to have attended secondary school, halving the gender gap. They reallocate time from traditional agriculture into cash crops and entrepreneurship. Men who were eligible as boys stay enrolled for more years of primary school, work 17% more hours each week, spend more time in entrepreneurship, are more likely to hold manufacturing jobs, and miss one fewer meal per week. We estimate an annualized financial internal rate of return of at least 32.2%. 

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June 01, 2013
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We evaluate the impact of a health information intervention implemented through mobile phones, using a clustered randomized control trial augmented by qualitative interviews. The intervention aimed to improve sexual health knowledge and shift individuals towards safer sexual behavior by providing reliable information about sexual health. The novel technology designed by Google and Grameen Technology Center provided automated searches of an advice database on topics requested by users via SMS. It was offered by MTN Uganda at no cost to users. Quantitative survey results allow us to reject the hypothesis that improving access to information would increase knowledge and shift behavior to less risky sexual activities. In fact, we find that the service led to an increase in promiscuity, and no shift in perception of norms. Qualitative focus groups discussions support the findings of the quantitative survey results. We conclude by discussing a potential mechanism explaining the counterintuitive findings

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May 31, 2013
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Despite the fact that national health insurance has been available in Ghana since 2003, the coverage is far from universal, especially in rural areas. This study evaluates a consumer education intervention for microfinance clients by Freedom from Hunger and Sinapi Aba Trust designed to increase awareness, knowledge and eventually take-up rates of the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS).

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May 01, 2013

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