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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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Working Paper
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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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Working Paper
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June 01, 2013
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The long-run price elasticity of demand for credit is a key parameter for intertemporal modeling, policy levers, and lending practice. We use randomized interest rates, offered across 80 regions by Mexico’s largest microlender, to identify a 29-month dollars-borrowed elasticity of -1.9. This elasticity increases from -1.1 in year one to -2.9 in year three. The number of borrowers is also elastic. Credit bureau data does not show evidence of crowd-out. Competitors do not respond by reducing rates, perhaps because Compartamos’ profits are unchanged. The results are consistent with multiple equilibria in loan pricing.
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Working Paper
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May 31, 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 counterintuit...
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Published Paper
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May 31, 2013
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Theories abound for why individuals give to charity. We conduct a randomized field experiment with a Yale service club and find that the promise of public recognition increases giving. Some may claim that they give when offered public recognition in order to motivate others to give too, rather than for the more obvious expected private gain from increasing one’s social standing. To tease apart these two theories, we also conduct a laboratory experiment with undergraduates. Our evidence is not consistent with individuals giving primarily because of a desire to influence the gifts of others. We conclude that social image motivations are a central determinant of giving when gifts are publicly recognized.
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Working Paper
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May 13, 2013
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Efficient targeting of public programs is difficult when the cost or bene!t to potential recipients is private information. This study illustrates the potential of self-selection to improve allocational outcomes in the context of a program that subsidizes tree planting in Malawi. Landholders who received a tree planting contract as a result of bidding in an auction kept significantly more trees alive over a three year period than did landholders who received the contract through a lottery. The gains from targeting on private information through the auction represent a 30 percent cost savings per surviving tree for the implementing organization.
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Working Paper
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May 03, 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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Working Paper
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May 01, 2013
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An individual who takes an HIV test can be informed about their own status and risk. Similarly, when friends, family or neighbors learn of a person's HIV status, they may update their beliefs about HIV infection among people they know. Using an experiment conducted in rural Malawi which randomly assigned incentives to learn HIV results, we find that as people in the community learn their HIV results, individuals revise their beliefs downward about deaths attributable to HIV/AIDS. We find corresponding behavioral responses with a significant decrease in condom use and no significant increase in multiple partnerships among those who are HIV-negative.
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Published Paper
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May 01, 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). Designed as a randomized control trial, the study looked at two methods of providing health education to clients of microfinance institutions (MFIs) as well as a “reminder” session provided one year later. Findings indicated no significant differences in health insurance enrollment rates between the treatment groups and control group, by type of education or for those who got reminder sessions. The education may not have had a large impact because baseline enrollment and knowledge of insurance was already high, suggesting that knowledge was not a barrier to enrollment. Rather, it appears that conven...
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Report
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May 01, 2013
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Three-quarters of the world’s poorest people do not have a formal bank account. With few viable means to save, these individuals and their families are vulnerable to life-threatening hardships. Community-based savings groups are designed to provide a mechanism for resilience. Jointly, Oxfam America and Freedom from Hunger commissioned the largest study to date to evaluate the impact of community-based savings groups—using both a randomized controlled trial and in-depth qualitative research.
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Brief
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May 01, 2013
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We conducted an experiment providing fertilizer grants to female rice farmers in Mali. We found that women who received fertilizer used both more fertilizer and more complementary inputs such as herbicides and hired labor. This shows that farmers respond to an increase in one input by re-optimizing other inputs. Second, while the increase in inputs led to a considerable increase in output, we found no evidence that profits increased. Our results suggest that fertilizer's impact on profits is small compared to other sources of variation. This may make it difficult for farmers to learn about the returns to fertilizer.
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Published Paper
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May 01, 2013
English
There is growing interest in using messaging to drive pro-social behaviors, which contribute to investment in public goods. We worked with a leading NGO in Peru to randomize nine different prorecycling messages that were crafted based on best practice, prior evidence, and theories of behavioral change. Different variants emphasized information on environmental or social benefits, social comparisons, social sanctions, authority, and/or 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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Working Paper
Date:
May 01, 2013
English
Roughly two billion people in the world live on $2 a day or less. Of these a staggering 50 percent are estimated to be micro-entrepreneurs, running a small business to make ends meet but employing only a handful of people. If just a small proportion of these entrepreneurs were encouraged to grow and invest in their business, and hire more employees, it could transform the fortunes of the developing economies, and billions of people living in poverty. But how? It is a challenge that Stephen Anderson-Macdonald is hoping to help tackle.
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April 13, 2013
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Micro-entrepreneurs often lack the financial literacy required for the complex financial decisions they face. We conduct a randomized control trial with a bank in the Dominican Republic to compare the impact of two distinct programs: a standard accounting training versus a simplified, rule-of-thumb training that teaches basic financial heuristics. Only the latter produced significant improvements in firms’ financial practices, objective reporting quality and revenues. Looking at treatment heterogeneity, the impact is specially pronounced for microentrepreneurs with lower skills or poor initial financial practices. These results suggest that reducing the complexity of training programs might improve their effectiveness, especially for less sophisticated clients.
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Published Paper
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March 01, 2013
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In many developing countries, women frequently leave school, marry, and start having children at a young age. In India, nearly half of women now in their early twenties were married before the age of eighteen. Girls tend to drop out of school earlier than boys, and women are far less likely to work for pay or work outside of the home. These outcomes indicate low social and economic progress of women and may have consequences for poverty and well-being. The availability of employment opportunities for women may play a role in influencing these outcomes. Parents may not invest as much in their daughters’ education as their sons’ if they anticipate fewer employment opportunities for educated women than men. Would parents change how they invest in their daughters and would young women’s aspirations change, if they learned that new, better job opportunities are available? When people learn about well-paying jobs for women, can this change decisions about young women continuing their educati...
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Brief
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March 01, 2013
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A long-standing question is whether differences in management practices across firms can explain differences in productivity, especially in developing countries where these spreads appear particularly large. To investigate this, we ran a management field experiment on large Indian textile firms. We provided free consulting on management practices to randomly chosen treatment plants and compared their performance to a set of control plants. We find that adopting these management practices raised productivity by 17% in the first year through improved quality and efficiency and reduced inventory, and within three years led to the opening of more production plants. Why had the firms not adopted these profitable practices previously? Our results suggest that informational barriers were the primary factor explaining this lack of adoption. Also, because reallocation across firms appeared to be constrained by limits on managerial time, competition had not forced badly managed firms to exit.
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Published Paper
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February 03, 2013
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Facilitating the purchase of a private water connection on credit improved households’ quality of life.
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Brief
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February 01, 2013
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Business training programs are a popular policy option to try to improve the performance of enterprises around the world. The last few years have seen rapid growth in the number of evaluations of these programs in developing countries. We undertake a critical review of these studies with the goal of synthesizing the emerging lessons and understanding the limitations of the existing research and the areas in which more work is needed. We find that there is substantial heterogeneity in the length, content, and types of firms participating in the training programs evaluated. Many evaluations suffer from low statistical power, measure impacts only within a year of training, and experience problems with survey attrition and measurement of firm profits and revenues. Over these short time horizons, there are relatively modest impacts of training on survivorship of existing firms, but stronger evidence that training programs help prospective owners launch new businesses more quickly. Most stud...
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Working Paper
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February 01, 2013
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The majority of the poor lack access to bank accounts and have to use costly informal savings mechanisms. Using a field experiment, I randomly gave access to simple bank accounts with no fees at local bank branches to a large sample of female household heads in Nepal. Results show that there is untapped demand for savings accounts and that the poor do save. Access to the savings accounts increased monetary assets and total assets without crowding out other kinds of assets or savings institutions. Finally, financial access strongly increased households’ investments in health and education.
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January 28, 2013

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