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Today, IPA’s vision remains the same as always: a world with more evidence and less poverty. To achieve this vision, our last strategic plan emphasized promoting the adoption and scale-up of effective solutions. Since 2012, we have continued growing the body of evidence and contributed to the adoption of evidence-based programs, improving hundreds of millions of lives.  Yet we have learned that promoting an effective solution alone is not enough for evidence to be used systematically. Our strategic ambition through 2025 emphasizes the need for iterative learning about what works (and doesn’t work!), and why, and the need to equip decision-makers to use evidence, by building deep partnerships, engaging decision-makers throughout the research process, and helping them develop learning agendas adapted to their needs. We hope you will join us in this ambition, as we continue to build a world with more evidence and less poverty.
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Annual Report
Date:
December 11, 2018
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2017 marked 15 years of generating high-quality evidence and ensuring that evidence is used to improve the lives of the poor. Together with our network of academics and our implementing partners, we started 70 new studies and continued our efforts to share research findings and promote the use of evidence through more than 85 events around the world.
Type:
Annual Report
Date:
October 17, 2018
English
Despite good intentions, people often make less-than-optimal financial choices. In this series, we match insights from our global research in behavioral economics with specific financial service and product design opportunities both for providers in the U.S. and in other countries. Providers can use these evidence-based insights to expand financial inclusion, improve client offerings, and continue to promote financial health. This booklet combines a series of briefs, which are also available to download as individual briefs: Count on Commitment, The Power of Doing Nothing, Top of Mind. Count on CommitmentCommitment devices are voluntary, binding arrangements that people make to reach specific goals that may otherwise be difficult to achieve. When built into savings products, commitment devices can help address behavioral and social obstacles to saving by providing a mechanism that forces people to save according to their self-set plans. These devices vary in terms of commitment activi...
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Brief
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February 13, 2017
English
Financial education is widely used by governments, financial service providers, and non-governmental organizations as a tool to help people navigate the financial system and make better financial choices. Financial education programs are built on the assumption that education will lead to knowledge, and that knowledge will lead to better choices and improved financial health. Recent evidence suggests that assumption is flawed, but also shows promise for some new, alternative approaches to financial education. A robust body of evidence shows that on average conventional approaches to financial education have not been successful in either imparting lasting knowledge or in changing people’s financial behavior. While these findings may seem discouraging at first glance, the conventional approach to financial education is not the only approach, and several new methods have been rigorously tested in recent years and yielded positive results. This brief explores the emerging evidence on these...
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Brief
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January 27, 2017
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IPA’s Peace & Recovery Program (P&R) is pleased to announce that it is now accepting proposals for research on violence and homicide in Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC), supported by a pending grant from the Open Society Foundations (OSF). This document details P&R’s new research focus, outlining the types of projects we support, our funding criteria, and the focus countries for the competitive fund supported by OSF. Funding for this theme is subject to and conditioned upon IPA receiving funding from OSF. This funding is shared with J-PAL’s Crime and Violence Initiative (CVI). Please direct all questions to peace@poverty-action.org.
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Type:
Report
Date:
March 18, 2019
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IPA’s Peace & Recovery program is designed to support field experiments and related research in several broad areas: Reducing violence and promoting peace Reducing “fragility” (i.e. fostering state capability and institutions of decision-making) Preventing, coping with, and recovering from crises (focusing on conflict, but also including non-conflict humanitarian crises) This document highlights the aims, core themes, research questions, and focus countries for P&R calls for proposals which will be taking place twice a year during 2018 and 2019.
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Type:
Report
Date:
March 14, 2019
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We use a randomized experiment in Kenya to study the impact of unconditional cash transfers on intimate partner violence. Transfers to women of on average USD 709 led to a 0.26 standard deviation (SD) decrease in physical violence, and transfers to men to a 0.18 SD decrease. Sexual violence was reduced after transfers to women (0.22 SD), but not men. We construct a theory which together with our empirical findings suggests that husbands use violence to extract resources, but dislike it otherwise. We observe large and significant spillovers: nonrecipient women in treatment villages report a 0.16 SD reduction in physical violence.
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Type:
Working Paper
Date:
February 24, 2019
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Background Novartis Access is a Novartis programme that offers a portfolio of non-communicable disease medicines at a wholesale price of US$1 per treatment per month in low-income and middle-income countries. We evaluated the effect of Novartis Access in Kenya, the first country to receive the programme. Methods We did a cluster-randomised controlled trial in eight counties in Kenya. Counties (clusters) were randomly assigned to the intervention or the control group with a covariate-constrained randomisation procedure that maximised balance on a set of demographic and health variables. In intervention counties, public and non-profit health facilities were allowed to purchase Novartis Access medicines from the Mission for Essential Drugs and Supplies (MEDS). Data were collected from all facilities served by MEDS and a sample of households in study counties. Households were eligible if they had at least one adult patient who had been diagnosed and prescribed medicines for one of the non-...
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Type:
Published Paper
Date:
February 21, 2019
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Voter mobilization campaigns face trade-offs in young democracies. In a large-scale experiment implemented in 2013 with the Kenyan Electoral Commission (IEBC), text messages intended to mobilize voters boosted participation but also decreased trust in electoral institutions after the election, a decrease that was stronger in areas that experienced election-related violence, and for individuals on the losing side of the election. The mobilization backfired because the IEBC promised an electronic voting system that failed, resulting in manual voting and tallying delays. Using a simple model, we show signaling high institutional capacity via a mobilization campaign can negatively affect beliefs about the fairness of the election.
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Working Paper
Date:
February 05, 2019
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We embed a field experiment in a nationwide recruitment drive for nurses in Zambia to test whether career benefits attract talent at the expense of prosocial motivation. We randomize the offer of career benefits at the recruitment stage. In line with common wisdom, treatment attracts less prosocial applicants. However, the trade-off only exists at low levels of talent; the marginal applicants in treatment are more talented and equally pro-social. These are hired, and they perform better at every step of the chain: they deliver more services, promote institutional childbirth, and reduce child malnutrition by 25% in the communities they serve.
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Working Paper
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February 05, 2019
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Developing country lenders are taking advantage of fintech tools to create fully digital loans on mobile phones. Using administrative and survey data, we study the take up and impacts of one of the most popular digital loan products in the world, M-Shwari in Kenya. While 34% of those eligible for a loan take it, the loan does not substitute for other credit. The loans improve household resilience: households are 6.3 percentage points less likely to forego expenses due to negative shocks. We conclude that while digital loans improve financial access and resilience, they are not a panacea for greater credit market failures.
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Working Paper
Date:
February 01, 2019
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Violence against women (VAW) is widespread in East Africa, with almost half of married women experiencing physical abuse. Those seeking to address this policy issue confront two challenges. First, some forms of domestic violence are widely condoned; majorities of men and women believe that a husband is justified in beating his wife in a variety of scenarios. Second, victims and bystanders are often reluctant to report incidents to authorities. Building on a growing literature showing that education-entertainment can change norms and behaviors, we present experimental evidence from a media campaign attended by over 10,000 Ugandans in 112 villages. In randomly assigned villages, video dramatizations discouraged VAW and encouraged reporting. Results from interviews conducted several months after the intervention show no change in attitudes condoning VAW yet a substantial increase in willingness to report to authorities, especially among women, and a decline in the share of women who exper...
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Working Paper
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January 31, 2019
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In 2016 the city of Bogotá doubled police patrols and intensified city services on high-crime streets. They did so based on a policy and criminological consensus that such place-based programs not only decrease crime, but also have positive spillovers to nearby streets. To test this, we worked with Bogotá to experiment on an unprecedented scale. They randomly assigned 1,919 streets to either 8 months of doubled police patrols, greater municipal services, both, or neither. Such scale brings econometric challenges. Spatial spillovers in dense networks introduce bias and complicate variance estimation through “fuzzy clustering.” But a design-based approach and randomization inference produce valid hypothesis tests in such settings. In contrast to the consensus, we find intensifying state presence in Bogotá had modest but imprecise direct effects and that such crime displaced nearby, especially property crimes. Confidence intervals suggest we can rule out total reductions in crime of more...
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Working Paper
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January 19, 2019
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Low-income households around the world are particularly vulnerable to shocks, but also the least prepared when a shock hits. The effects of climate change, including floods, droughts, and other weather-related disasters, are adding another layer of risk for already vulnerable households. In this context, it is increasingly important that poor households build resilience—that they strengthen their ability to mitigate, cope, and recover from shocks and stresses without compromising their future welfare. Evidence suggests well-designed financial products and services can play a role in increasing low-income families’ resilience by helping them be prepared for risk, reduce risk, increase investment in the face of risk, and respond when a shock occurs. Yet the role that financial products and services can play in increasing resilience, as well as the most effective design and delivery mechanisms toward that end, is not fully understood. This paper reviews the evidence on financial inclusion...
Type:
Brief
Date:
January 14, 2019
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We evaluate the impact of a large-scale information and mobilization intervention designed to improve health service delivery in rural Uganda by increasing citizens’ ability to monitor and apply bottom-up pressure on underperforming health workers. Modeled closely on the landmark “Power to the People” study (Bjorkman and Svensson, 2009), the intervention was undertaken in 376 health centers in 16 districts and involved a three wave panel of more than 14,000 households. We find that while the intervention had a modest positive impact on treatment quality and patient satisfaction, it had no effect on utilization rates or health outcomes (including child mortality). We also find no evidence that the channel through which the intervention affected treatment quality was citizen monitoring. The results hold in a wide set of pre-specified subgroups and also when, via a factorial design, we break down the complex intervention into its two most important components. Our findings cast doubt on t...
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Working Paper
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January 08, 2019
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En Colombia, así como en muchos otros países, los trabajadores enfrentan muchas barreras para ahorrar para la jubilación. La situación es mucho peor para los trabajadores informales, que representan alrededor del 65 por ciento de la fuerza laboral total en Colombia. Con el fin de investigar formas de aumentar las contribuciones voluntarias para el retiro, Innovations for Poverty Action en colaboración con Colpensiones, el administrador público del Régimen de Prima Media con Prestación Definida, y el Banco Interamericano de Desarrollo llevará a cabo tres etapas de evaluaciones aleatorias rápidas - RFT (Rapid Fire Testing) que medirán el impacto de los mensajes de texto en los hábitos de ahorro para el retiro. En México, de forma paralela, los investigadores están implementando un estudio similar adaptado al contexto nacional.
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Brief
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January 08, 2019
Las pequeñas y mediana empresas son vistas como importantes motores de crecimiento en los países en desarrollo. Sin embargo, barreras al crecimiento tales como la dificultad para acceder a créditos impiden con frecuencia el desarrollo de ese potencial. Ante este panorama, un grupo de investigadores usó una evaluación aleatorizada para medir el impacto de introducir puntajes de crédito generados por computador sobre los niveles de créditos otorgados a las micro y pequeñas empresas en Colombia. La evaluación reveló que el programa incrementó significativamente la productividad en la aprobación de créditos y mejoró su asignación sin afectar el promedio de los montos autorizados ni las tasas de incumplimiento.
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Brief
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January 08, 2019
Around the world, 152 million children are engaged in child labor. Because poverty is thought to be the root cause of child labor, policymakers have aimed to reduce child labor by improving the economic welfare of poor households where children are engaged in child labor. In the Philippines, researchers partnered with the Philippine Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) to conduct a randomized evaluation of the impact of a program that provided a one-time productive asset transfer of PHP 10,000 (equivalent to US$518) on economic well-being and child labor outcomes. Key Findings  Approximately 15 months after the program started: The assets increased household business activity, both fostering new activities and helping older business activities persist. The program increased food security and improved some measures of child welfare, including children’s life satisfaction. The program had a positive rate of return on family-firm generated income. However, the program also led to an...
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Brief
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January 07, 2019
We present results from a large-scale randomized experiment across 350 schools in Tanzania that studied the impact of providing schools with (a) unconditional grants, (b) teacher incentives based on student performance, and (c) both of the above. After two years, we find (a) no impact on student test scores from providing school grants, (b) some evidence of positive effects from teacher incentives, and (c) significant positive effects from providing both programs. Most importantly, we find strong evidence of complementarities between the two programs, with the effect of joint provision being significantly greater than the sum of the individual effects. Our results suggest that combining spending on school inputs (which is the default policy) with improved teacher incentives could substantially increase the cost-effectiveness of public spending on education.
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Working Paper
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January 01, 2019
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In Uganda, researchers conducted a large-scale randomized evaluation of a program called Accountability Can Transform (ACT) Health. The program provided community members and health care workers information about the quality of their local health services and brought them together to create action plans for how to improve local health service accountability, delivery, and quality. The study built on previous research of a similar program called Power to the People, which was found to greatly improve child health. Key Findings Twenty months after the program began:1 The program marginally improved the quality of treatment patients received and increased patient satisfaction. However, the program did not affect how often people sought health care (utilization rates) or improve health outcomes; child mortality rates were unchanged. Results were similar one and two years into the program and were consistent across different groups; no health effects were found in any subgroup. Contrary to...
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Brief
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December 14, 2018

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