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This report covers some highlights of IPA’s 2018-2019 accomplishments, which were made possible by the world-class researchers, organizations, and funders we are proud to call our partners.
Type:
Annual Report
Date:
October 25, 2019
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Visit our Strategic Ambition Website 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.
Type:
Annual Report
Date:
December 11, 2018
How large economic stimuli generate individual and aggregate responses is a central question in economics, but has not been studied experimentally. We provided one-time cash transfers of about USD 1000 to over 10,500 poor households across 653 randomized villages in rural Kenya. The implied fiscal shock was over 15 percent of local GDP. We find large impacts on consumption and assets for recipients. Importantly, we document large positive spillovers on non-recipient households and firms, and minimal price inflation. We estimate a local fiscal multiplier of 2.7. We interpret welfare implications through the lens of a simple household optimization framework.
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Working Paper
Date:
December 19, 2020
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Randomized controlled trials in lower-income countries have demonstrated ways to increase learning, in specific settings. This study uses a large-scale, nationwide RCT in Ghana to show the external validity of four school-based interventions inspired by other RCTs. Even though the government implemented the programs within existing systems, student learning increased across all four models, more so for female than male students, and many gains persisted one year after the program ended. Three of the four interventions had a similar cost effectiveness. The intervention that directly targeted classroom teachers increased the likelihood that teachers were engaged with students.
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Working Paper
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June 22, 2020
The COVID-19 pandemic threatens lives and livelihoods, and, with that, has created immediate challenges for institutions that serve affected communities. We focus on implications for local microfinance institutions in Pakistan, a country with a mature microfinance sector, serving a large number of households. The institutions serve populations poorly-served by traditional commercial banks, helping customers invest in microenterprises, save, and maintain liquidity. We report results from ‘rapid response’ phone surveys of about 1,000 microenterprise owners, a survey of about 200 microfinance loan officers, and interviews with regulators and senior representatives of microfinance institutions. We ran these surveys starting about a week after the country went into lockdown to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus. We find that, on average, week-on-week sales and household income both fell by about 90%. Households’ primary immediate concern in early April became how to secure food. As...
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Published Paper
Date:
June 18, 2020
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Se ha encontrado que la educación temprana tiene un efecto positivo sobre el hecho de que los estudiantes elijan cursos de matemáticas o ciencias en su curso educativo posterior o en sus elecciones profesionales. En Colombia, los investigadores se encuentran realizando un experimento aleatorio controlado para medir el impacto de un programa de educación preescolar basado en aprendizaje interactivo multimedia sobre las habilidades para las matemáticas y las ciencias de los niños, sobre sus estereotipos de género y de raza y sobre las creencias de los niños, los profesores y los padres. 
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Brief
Date:
June 15, 2020
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This study reports results from a randomized evaluation of a mandatory six-month internet-based sexual education course implemented across public junior high schools in 21 Colombian cities. Six months after finishing the course, the study finds a 0.4 standard deviation improvement in knowledge, a 0.2 standard deviation improvement in attitudes, and a 55 percent increase in the likelihood of redeeming vouchers for condoms as a result of taking the course. The data provide no evidence of spillovers to control classrooms within treatment schools. However, the analysis provides compelling evidence that treatment effects are enhanced when a larger share of a student’s friends also takes the course. The low cost of the online course along with the effectiveness the study documents suggests this technology is a viable alternative for improving sexual education in middle-income countries.
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Published Paper
Date:
June 03, 2020
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Helping the ultra-poor develop sustainable livelihoods is a global priority, but policymakers, practitioners, and funders are faced with competing ideas about the best way to reduce extreme poverty. Innovations for Poverty Action conducted a randomized evaluation to test the impacts of diverse components and variants of the Village Enterprise microenterprise program, an integrated poverty alleviation intervention that provides poor households with a combination of cash transfers, mentorship, business training, and support with the formation of savings groups, over a one-year period. Key Findings Village Enterprise’s microenterprise development program led to increased consumption, assets, and income, as well as improvements in nutrition and subjective well-being. Cost-effectiveness appears high: researchers estimate a full cost recovery within three to four years. A cost-equivalent cash transfer appeared to have less promising medium-term impacts on poverty reduction and subjective wel...
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Brief
Date:
May 27, 2020
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The COVID-19 pandemic has closed schools around the world, forcing school systems and students to quickly attempt remote learning. A rapid response phone survey of over 1,500 high school students aged 14 to 18 in Ecuador was conducted to learn how students spend their time during the period of quarantine, examine their access to remote learning, and measure their mental health status. The data show that 59 percent of students have both an internet connection at home and a computer or tablet, 74 percent are engaging in some online or telelearning, and 86 percent have done some schoolwork on the last weekday. Detailed time-use data show most students have established similar daily routines around education, although gender and wealth differences emerge in time spent working and on household tasks. Closure of schools and social isolation are the two main problems students say they face, and while the majority are mostly happy, 16 percent have mental health scores that indicate depression....
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Working Paper
Date:
May 21, 2020
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We study the prevalence of COVID‐19 symptoms in refugee and host communities and their correlates with current and pre‐COVID‐19 living conditions. We administered a phone‐based survey to a sample of 909 households in Cox’s Bazar which was drawn from a household panel representative of Rohingya refugees and the host population. We conducted a symptoms checklist to assess COVID‐19 risk based on the WHO guidelines. We included questions covering returning migration, employment, and food security. We asked additional questions on health knowledge and behaviors to a random subsample (n=460). 24.6% of camp residents and 13.4% of those in host communities report at least one common symptom of COVID‐19. Among those seeking treatment, a plurality did so at a pharmacy (42.3% in camps, 69.6% in host communities). While most respondents report good respiratory hygiene, between 76.7% (camps) and 52.2% (host community) had attended a communal prayer in the previous week. Another 47.4% (camps) 34.4%...
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Working Paper
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May 19, 2020
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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.
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Report
Date:
May 15, 2020
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Uganda has made substantial advancements in nancial consumer protection policy in recent years but understanding whether and how the nancial sector complies with these new regulations can be a challenge in the absence of systematic monitoring. Setting rules is insufficient to ensure proper market conduct, so supervision of sales visits is needed to ensure that the rules established are upheld in practice. To provide a snapshot of current practices and compliance with existing guidelines on consumer credit information provision at the point of sale, Innovations for Poverty Action (IPA) conducted a “mystery shopping” exercise of lending institutions in three districts of Uganda. For this survey, a mystery shopper posed as a regular customer and, unannounced, visited lenders in order to discover information about the loan application process without the credit officer knowing they are being observed, and thus avoiding impacting their normal behavior or practices.
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Report
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May 08, 2020
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Children often walk long distances to get to school in rural areas of developing countries, which contributes to high rates of absenteeism, particularly for girls. Can providing girls with bicycles to travel to school help address this problem? In rural Zambia, researchers partnered with World Bicycle Relief (WBR) to evaluate the impact of providing girls with bicycles to travel to school. The evaluation measured the impacts of the program on girls’ educational attainment and empowerment outcomes. Girls were eligible for the program if they were in 5th, 6th, or 7th grade and walked at least three kilometers to school.
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Brief
Date:
April 30, 2020
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Cox’s Bazar district in Bangladesh has received multiple waves of Rohingya refugees from Myanmar since the 1970s, but late 2017 saw the largest and fastest refugee influx in Bangladesh’s history. Between August 2017 and December 2018, 745,000 Rohingya refugees fled Myanmar into Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh, following an outbreak of violence in Rakhine State. As of December 31, 2019, Teknaf and Ukhia sub-districts host an estimated 854,704 stateless Rohingya refugees, almost all of whom live in densely populated camps (UNHCR 2019). Researchers from Yale University, the World Bank, and the Gender and Adolescence: Global Evidence (GAGE) initiative started the Cox’s Bazar Panel Survey (CBPS) in order to provide accurate data to humanitarian and government stakeholders involved in the response to the influx of refugees. The survey is an in-depth household survey covering 5,020 households living in both refugee camps and host communities. This quantitative data collection is complemented with qua...
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Type:
Brief
Date:
April 30, 2020
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As public resources available for investment in the pre-primary sector are limited, a good understanding of current provision, and how government can best work with the non-state sector, is important to determine how to target limited resources most effectively. With a rise in public-private partnerships (PPP) in education in developing countries, the timing is right to explore how the Government of Côte d’Ivoire can leverage the non-state sector more strategically to achieve its objectives in the pre-primary sector. The Ministère de l’Education Nationale, de l'Enseignement Technique et de la Formation Professionnelle (MENETFP) requested EPG’s support in 2018 to inform national-level policy discussions by: (i) improving MENETFP’s knowledge base and understanding of the quality of current pre-primary providers in selected areas of Abidjan and Bouaké and, (ii) based on this information; develop a PPP pilot to improve pre-primary education access and quality in alignment with current init...
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Report
Date:
April 29, 2020
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This document provides application instructions for the Peace & Recovery (P&R) Program's request for off-cycle proposals to support the COVID-19 response. The application process contains the following templates for applicants to complete when submitting their applications: Template for Pilot and Full Study Proposals Template for Exploratory Grant Proposals Budget Template (to be used for both Pilot/Full Study and Exploratory Grant Proposals) For more information about the request for proposals and P&R Program, read the Guiding Principles and Funding Priorities, and visit the P&R Competitive Fund page.
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Report
Date:
April 16, 2020
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The burden of food insecurity is large in Sub-Saharan Africa, yet the evidence-base on the relation between household food insecurity and early child development is extremely limited. Furthermore, available research mostly relies on cross-sectional data, limiting the quality of existing evidence. We use longitudinal data on preschool-aged children and their households in Ghana to investigate how being in a food insecure household was associated with early child development outcomes across three years. Household food insecurity was measured over three years using the Household Hunger Score. Households were first classified as “ever food insecure” if they were food insecure at any round. We also assessed persistence of household food insecurity by classifying households into three categories: (i) never food insecure; (ii) transitory food insecurity, if the household was food insecure only in one wave; and (iii) persistent food insecurity, if the household was food insecure in two or all...
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Published Paper
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April 03, 2020
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Participatory development is designed to mitigate problems of political bias in pre-existing local government but also interacts with it in complex ways. Using a five-year randomized controlled study in 97 clusters of villages (194 villages) in Ghana, we analyze the effects of a major participatory development program on participation in, leadership of and investment by pre-existing political institutions, and on households’ overall socioeconomic well-being. Applying theoretical insights on political participation and redistributive politics, we consider the possibility of both cross-institutional mobilization and displacement, and heterogeneous effects by partisanship. We find the government and its political supporters acted with high expectations for the participatory approach: treatment led to increased participation in local governance and reallocation of resources. But the results did not meet expectations, resulting in a worsening of socioeconomic wellbeing in treatment versus c...
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Working Paper
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April 02, 2020
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Developing countries are characterized by high rates of mortality and morbidity. A potential contributing factor is the low utilization of health systems, stemming from the low perceived quality of care delivered by health personnel. This factor may be especially critical during crises, when individuals choose whether to cooperate with response efforts and frontline health personnel. We experimentally examine efforts aimed at improving health worker performance in the context of the 2014–15 West African Ebola crisis. Roughly two years before the outbreak in Sierra Leone, we randomly assigned two social accountability interventions to government-run health clinics — one focused on community monitoring and the other gave status awards to clinic staff. We find that over the medium run, prior to the Ebola crisis, both interventions led to improvements in utilization of clinics and patient satisfaction. In addition, child health outcomes improved substantially in the catchment areas of comm...
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Working Paper
Date:
March 06, 2020
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Globally, access to good quality abortion services and post-abortion care is a critical determinant for women’s survival after unsafe abortion. Unsafe abortions account for high levels of maternal death in Kenya. We explored women’s experiences and perceptions of their abortion and post-abortion care experiences in Kenya through person-centred care. This qualitative study included focus group discussions and in-depth interviews with women aged 18-35 who received safe abortion services at private clinics. Through thematic analyses of women’s testimonies, we identified gaps in the abortion care and person-centred domains which seemed to be important throughout the abortion process. When women received clear communication and personalised comprehensive information on abortion and post-abortion care from their healthcare providers, they reported more positive experiences overall and higher reproductive autonomy. Communication and supportive care were particularly valued during the post-abo...
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Published Paper
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February 27, 2020

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