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In the previous IPA Health Bulletin (August 2015) we discussed the discernible positive differences in household behaviors and child health in districts where the Community Health Assistants were recruited using career incentives (“Career CHAs”) in comparison with those recruited using community incentives (“Control CHAs”). Over the past months IPA has been meeting with government stakeholders - including the MOH HR Technical Working Group - and presenting what these results mean for the cost-benefit of providing career incentives for the CHAs. Here is a brief summary of that presentation.
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January 01, 2016
English
We implement an artefactual field experiment in rural Malawi to study revisions of prior choices regarding future income receipts. This allows examination of intertemporal choice revision and its determinants. New tests provide evidence of self-control problems for some participants. Revisions of money allocations toward the present are positively associated with refined measures of present-bias from an earlier survey, and with the randomly assigned closeness in time to the first possible date of money disbursement. We find little evidence that revisions of allocations toward the present are associated with spousal preferences for such revision, household shocks, or the financial sophistication of respondents.
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Working Paper
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January 01, 2016
English
We implemented a randomized intervention among Malawian farmers aimed at facilitating formal savings for agricultural inputs. Treated farmers were offered the opportunity to have their cash crop harvest proceeds deposited directly into new bank accounts in their own names, while farmers in the control group were paid harvest proceeds in cash (the status quo). The treatment led to higher savings in the months immediately prior to the next agricultural planting season, and raised agricultural input usage in that season. We also find positive treatment effects on subsequent crop sale proceeds and household expenditures. Because the treatment effect on savings was only a small fraction of the treatment effect on the value of agricultural inputs, mechanisms other than alleviation of savings constraints per se are needed to explain the treatment’s impact on input utilization. We discuss other possible mechanisms through which treatment effects may have operated.
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Published Paper
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January 01, 2016
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Currently very few conflict-affected countries have met a single Millennium Development Goal. The need for effective peacebuilding programmes is acute, as development indicators are dramatically low and poverty levels are dramatically high in these conflict-affected areas. This scoping paper by Annette N Brown, Faith McCollister, Drew B Cameron, and Jennifer Ludwig reviews the supply of and demand for evidence from impact evaluations and systematic reviews on peacebuilding interventions.  The analysis focused on three inputs, which were presented according to a common framework of intervention and outcome categories developed by key stakeholders working in the area of peacebuilding. The first two inputs, a review of current and recent programming across 25 intervention categories and the results of a stakeholder survey, provide information on the demand for more and better evidence. The third input is a 3ie evidence gap map, which illustrates the evidence base of impact evaluations and...
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Report
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December 31, 2015
Spanish A4
En el marco de la gestión pública por resultados, se viene fortaleciendo una cultura de seguimiento y evaluación en el país, lo cual permite la generación de evidencia para la formulación de políticas públicas de efectiva intervención para el desarrollo y bienestar de la población. En ese contexto se crea la Red Peruana de Monitoreo y Evaluación-REDPERUME, como una organización integrada por actores públicos y privados, que promueve la institucionalización de una cultura de seguimiento y evaluación, contribuyendo de este modo a la efectividad de las políticas, planes, programas y proyectos. Esta Red surge hacia finales del año 2010, como un grupo adscrito a la Red Latinoamérica y del Caribe de Monitoreo y Evaluación-REDLACME, a iniciativa del Ministerio de la Mujer y Poblaciones Vulnerables-MIMP. A la fecha cuenta con 286 integrantes de diversos Sectores del Estado, Organizaciones Privadas y de la Sociedad Civil, encontrando en la Red un espacio vivo para el intercam...
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Report
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December 04, 2015
English
Experimental tests of microcredit programs have consistently failed to find effects on business and household income. Does the current microfinance model and targeting of clients miss important effects from finance? I present results of a randomized experiment with microenterprise owners in Uganda that sought to expand access to finance for men and women who generally did not qualify for finance under normal circumstances with the goal of inceasing business profits and employment. Participants were offered either capital with repayment (subsidized loans) or without (grants) and were randomly chosen to receive or not receive business skills training in conjunction with the capital. Consistent with existing literature, I find no effect for female enterprises from either form of capital or the training. However, I find large effects for men with access to loans combined with training. There is no effect for men or women from the grants, suggesting repayment requirements can increase the l...
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Working Paper
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December 01, 2015
English
For policy purposes, it is important to understand the relative efficacy of various methods to target the poor. Recently, participatory methods have received particular attention. We examine the effectiveness of a hybrid two-step process that combines a participatory wealth ranking and a verification household survey, relative to two proxy means tests (the Progress out of Poverty Index and a housing index), in Honduras and Peru. The methods we examine perform similarly by various metrics. They all identify most accurately the poorest and the wealthiest households but perform with mixed results among households in the middle of the distribution. Ultimately, given similar performance, the analysis suggests that costs should be the driving consideration in choosing across methods.
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Published Paper
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December 01, 2015
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Journals, research funders and research groups such as Innovations for Poverty Action are increasingly recognizing the value of research transparency. Research transparency includes pre-registering studies and sharing materials such as data and code to allow others to re-analyze the reported results. Proper data and code management during a project are essential for transparency after a project’s completion. They are also important for internal use, as projects often run for multiple years, with several staff members working on them sequentially. This guide outlines best practices in data and code management. The scope of the guide is to cover the principles of organizing and documenting materials at all steps of the project lifecycle with the goal of making research reproducible. The guide does not cover best practices in designing surveys, cleaning data or conducting data analysis. In each section, we explain the “what,” “why” and “how” of each recommended practice.
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Research Resource
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November 30, 2015
Spanish
Las PyMEs son las mayores creadoras de empleo a nivel mundial, proporcionando—en promedio—más del 66 por ciento de todos los trabajos. Además, se cree que las PyMEs impulsan la innovación, la movilidad social, y la productividad. Sin embargo, las empresas en los países en desarrollo crecen menos que aquellas en países desarrollados debido a los obstáculos que las primeras enfrentan. Entre estos obstáculos se encuentran el escaso acceso al financiamiento, bajos niveles de capital humano y el limitado acceso a mercados. Estas restricciones limitan la contribución del sector a la creación de empleos y al desarrollo económico, lo que ha llevado a gobiernos, organizaciones sin fines de lucro y organismos internacionales a destinar miles de millones de dólares cada año en programas orientados a superar estas barreras. Desafortunadamente, aún existe poca evidencia sobre la capacidad de estos programas para destapar el potencial de crecimiento de las PyMEs. Read this brief in English here. 
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Brief
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November 27, 2015
English
To explain persistent gender gaps in market outcomes, a lab experimental literature explores whether women and men have innate differences in ability (or attitudes or preferences), and a separate field-based literature studies discrimination against women in market settings. We posit that even if women have innate ability that is comparable to that of men, their relative performance may suffer in the market if the task requires them to interact with others in society, and they are subject to discrimination in those interactions. We test these ideas using a large-scale field experiment in 142 Malawian villages where men or women were randomly assigned the task of learning about a new agricultural technology, and then communicating it to others to convince them to adopt. Even though female communicators learn and retain the new information better, and those taught by women experience higher farm yields, the women are not as successful at teaching or convincing others to adopt. Micro-data...
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Working Paper
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November 18, 2015
English
Financial access is critical for the growth of small and medium-size enterprises (SMEs). It allows entrepreneurs to innovate, improve efficiency, expand to new markets, and provide millions of jobs. Yet, in developing countries, the majority of SMEs are unable to acquire the financing they need to reach their potential. Financing SMEs in the developing world can be risky and expensive for lenders, leading to an estimated financing gap of one trillion USD (International Finance Corporation, 2011). To reduce the credit gap, financial institutions, governments, and donors invest in lending products and policies designed to provide SMEs with the financing they need to grow and innovate. However, the extent to which such programs effectively reduce the barriers to SME financing has generally not been rigorously measured. The SME Program at Innovations for Poverty Action (IPA) rigorously evaluates potential solutions and promotes the most efficient and cost-effective ways to expand access to...
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Brief
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November 17, 2015
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Significant income gains from migrating from poorer to richer countries have motivated unilateral (source-country) policies facilitating labor emigration. However, their effectiveness is unknown. We conducted a large-scale randomized experiment in the Philippines testing the impact of unilaterally facilitating international labor migration. Our most intensive treatment doubled the rate of job offers but had no identifiable effect on international labor migration. Even the highest overseas job-search rate we induced (22%) falls far short of the share initially expressing interest in migrating (34%). We conclude that unilateral migration facilitation will at most induce a trickle, not a flood, of additional emigration.
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Published Paper
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November 10, 2015
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In recent years, the influx of available consumer data has presented corporate firms, non-profit organizations, and governments alike with an opportunity to increase the efficacy and targeting of their products and services. The key to identifying what works is to build experimentation through randomized controlled trials (RCTs) into the process of designing new products and services. Running RCTs, however, is not always straightforward: there are a multitude of technical, analytical, and logistical hurdles that arise during the course of designing and implementing an RCT.  To this end, the US Finance Initiative at Innovations for Poverty Action has compiled best practices gleaned from years of experience running RCTs in the finance sector into a toolkit. The toolkit assumes a certain amount of technical knowledge and is intended for researchers, but details the often-neglected “softer” skills of managing an RCT, including the logistics of implementation and the interaction between the...
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November 10, 2015
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Almost all firms in developing countries have fewer than 10 workers, with a modal size of one. Are there potential high-growth entrepreneurs, and can public policy help identify them and facilitate their growth? A large-scale national business plan competition in Nigeria provides evidence on these questions. Random assignment of US$36 million in grants provided each winner with approximately US$50,000. Surveys tracking applicants over three years show that winning leads to greater firm entry, more survival, higher profits and sales, and higher employment, including increases of over 20 percentage points in the likelihood of a firm having 10 or more workers.
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Working Paper
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October 28, 2015
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IPA’s Messaging Replication Project builds on prior evidence that low-cost messages can improve financial behavior through increased savings deposits or on-time loan payments. The project works with banks and communication providers in multiple sites to rigorously evaluate the impact of client messaging that uses behavioral insights as content cues. This brief highlights the project's mission and goals.
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Brief
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October 15, 2015
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IPA is all about leverage. 2014 was focused on bringing in more talented people and more extraordinary partners to leverage existing resources for more impact on the world. Together with our partners, IPA has designed and evaluated more than 275 potential solutions to poverty problems, and has over 245 studies in progress. This performance is a testament to the dedication of IPA staff, both on the ground in the field and in our headquarters, our implementing partners and researchers, the decision-makers who help put our findings to work, and our funders.  Browse an online version of the report here: annualreport.poverty-action.org/2014annualreport/  
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Annual Report
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October 01, 2015
English
This paper measures the economic impacts of social pressures to share income with kin and neighbors in rural Kenyan villages. We conduct a lab experiment in which we randomly vary the observability of investment returns to test whether subjects reduce their income in order to keep it hidden. We find that women adopt an investment strategy that conceals the size of their initial endowment in the experiment, though that strategy reduces their expected earnings. This effect is largest among women with relatives attending the experiment. Parameter estimates suggest that women anticipate that observable income will be “taxed” at a rate above four percent; this effective tax rate nearly doubles when kin can observe income directly. At the village level, we find an association between willingness to forgo expected return to keep income hidden in the laboratory experiment and worse economic outcomes outside the laboratory.
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Published Paper
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September 17, 2015
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A multifaceted livelihood program that provided ultra-poor households with a productive asset, training, regular coaching, access to savings, and consumption support led to large and lasting impacts on their standard of living across a diverse set of contexts and implementing partners.
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Brief
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September 08, 2015
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The Financial Services for the Poor Initiative supports research on innovations that help low-income households in the developing world access and benefit from formal financial services. We address outstanding questions on how to design and scale innovations to bring affordable and effective services within the reach of previously unbanked and underserved clients.
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Brief
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September 01, 2015
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A seven-year randomized evaluation suggests education subsidies reduce adolescent girls’ dropout, pregnancy, and marriage but not sexually transmitted infection (STI). The government’s HIV curriculum, which stresses abstinence until marriage, does not reduce pregnancy or STI. Both programs combined reduce STI more, but cut dropout and pregnancy less, than education subsidies alone. These results are inconsistent with a model of schooling and sexual behavior in which both pregnancy and STI are determined by one factor (unprotected sex), but consistent with a two-factor model in which choices between committed and casual relationships also affect these outcomes.
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Published Paper
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September 01, 2015

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