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I present evidence that unmet liquidity needs for indivisible, "lumpy," expenditures increase demand for betting as a second-best method of liquidity generation in the presence of financial constraints. With a sample of 1,708 sports bettors in Kampala, Uganda, I show that participants' targeted payouts are linked to anticipated expenditures, while winnings increase lumpy expenditures disproportionately. I show that a randomized savings treatment decreases demand for betting. And I use two lab-in-the-field experiments to show that unmet liquidity needs and saving ability are important mechanisms. These results cannot be explained by betting as a purely normal good.
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Published Paper
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January 10, 2021
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Professional advancement often depends on subjective performance reviews, especially in developing countries where objective data on performance may not be available. But subjective reviews may be susceptible to personal biases based on characteristics like gender. To better understand this in the education sector in Ghana, researchers compared both principals’ reviews and teacher self-assessments of effectiveness to an objective measure:  increases in student test scores. Female teachers were objectively more effective based on increases in student test scores. However, principals were 11 percentage points less likely to rate a female teacher as effective compared to a male teacher. These findings contribute to the evidence on gender biases in subjective assessments and related barriers faced by women in labor markets in developing countries.
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Working Paper
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January 06, 2021
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We conduct a field experiment offering graduated microcredit clients the opportunity to finance a business asset worth four times their previous borrowing limit. We implement this using a hire-purchase contract; our control group is offered a zero-interest loan. We find large, significant and persistent effects from asset finance contracts: treated microenterprise owners run larger businesses and enjoy higher profits; consequently, household consumption increases, particularly on food and children’s education. A dynamic structural model with non-convex capital adjustment costs rationalizes our results; this highlights the potential for welfare improvements through large capital injections that are financially sustainable for microfinance institutions.
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Working Paper
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January 01, 2021
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This brief summarizes existing research on how different survey modes may affect the accuracy of responses to the same questions. The potential mechanisms for these differences, known as mode effects, are outlined in the brief along with suggestions for future research.
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Phone Survey Methods Resource
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December 29, 2020
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This RFP closed on February 12, 2021. Thank you to all who submitted applications. In response to the disproportionate impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on women and girls, IPA launched the Women’s Work, Entrepreneurship, and Skilling (WWES) Initiative as part of RECOVR (Research for Effective COVID-19 Responses). The WWES Initiative combines data collection efforts, research projects, and policy work, focusing on two key themes: (1) women's work, entrepreneurship, and time use and (2) youth skilling and school-to-work transitions. The focus countries of this initiative are Kenya and Bangladesh. Our Request for Proposals will support piloting, data collection, analysis, dissemination, and policy engagement activities. This document outlines full details about the RFP, including the process and timeline, application materials (including the application form and budget template), and driving research questions. Any questions should be directed to the SME team.
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Research Resource
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December 15, 2020
English
Uruguay has increased its preschool enrollment, reaching almost universal coverage among four- and five-year-olds. However, more than a third of children enrolled in preschool programs have insufficient attendance, with absenteeism higher in schools in lower socioeconomic areas and among younger preschool children. This paper presents the results of a behavioral intervention to increase preschool attendance nationwide. Most previous experiments using behavioral sciences have looked at the impact of nudging parents on attendance and learning for school-age children; this is the first experiment looking at both attendance and child development for preschool children. It is also the first behavioral intervention to use a government mobile app to send messages to parents of preschool children. The intervention had no average treatment effect on attendance, but results ranged widely across groups. Attendance by children in the 25th 75th percentiles of absenteeism rose by 0.320.68 days over...
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Working Paper
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December 11, 2020
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IPA’s Peace & Recovery Program (P&R) supports field experiments and related research in several broad areas: Reducing violence and promoting peace Reducing “fragility” (i.e. fostering state capacity) Preventing, coping with, and recovering from crises, focusing on conflict but including non-conflict humanitarian crises such as COVID-19 This document covers the aims, core themes, research questions, and focus countries for our competitive research fund, supported by the UK Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO), and the Open Society Foundations (OSF). Please send all inquiries to peace@poverty-action.org
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Report
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December 02, 2020
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Markets for consumer financial services are growing rapidly in low and middle income countries and being transformed by digital technologies and platforms. With growth and change come concerns about protecting consumers from firm exploitation due to imperfect information and contracting as well as from their own decision-making limitations. We seek to bridge regulator and academic perspectives on these underlying sources of harm and five potential problems that can result: high and hidden prices, overindebtedness, post-contract exploitation, fraud, and discrimination. These potential problems span product markets old and new, and could impact micro- and macroeconomies alike. Yet there is little consensus on how to define, diagnose, or treat them. Evidence-based consumer financial protection will require substantial advances in theory and especially empirics, and we outline key areas for future research.
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Working Paper
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December 01, 2020
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Researchers study the impact of money on households during the COVID-19 pandemic. In March 2020, Colombia rolled out a new unconditional cash transfer (UCT) to one million households in poverty worth $19 (PPP $55.6) and paid every 5-8 weeks. Using an RCT and linked administrative and survey data, they find the UCT had positive (albeit modest) effects on measures of household well-being (e.g., financial health, food access). Moreover, the UCT boosted support for emergency assistance to households and firms during the crisis and promoted social cooperation. Finally, they explore the bottlenecks in expanding mobile money during a pandemic.
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Working Paper
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November 30, 2020
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Amidst the continuation of the COVID-19 pandemic and the emerging economic recovery, cash transfers can provide timely lifelines and economic assistance to households in need. The Philippines government rapidly moved to institute a number of emergency assistance programs when the pandemic struck, including the Social Amelioration Program (SAP) launched in early April 2020. These programs have been able to help cushion Filipinos from immediate economic fallouts from lockdowns and slowed commercial activity. Understanding how Filipinos have fared over the past few months, and what challenges they continue to face, is critical for the government’s design and delivery of social assistance programs moving forward. IPA partnered with the Department of Social Welfare and Development to develop questions focused on employment and economic activity to help guide decisions and shape social assistance policies with data. The RECOVR survey, conducted from June 18-July 1, reached 1,389 respondents...
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Brief
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November 16, 2020
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To support government partners’ initiatives in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, IPA launched the Research for Effective COVID-19 Responses (RECOVR) Survey, a rapid response panel survey it has conducted in nine countries including the Philippines. The RECOVR survey aims to directly inform key government partners on the health, economic, educational, and social ramifications of the pandemic. This brief summarizes and presents key education results from the RECOVR Philippines Survey (implemented June 18-July 1, 2020 that reached 1,389 respondents) to provide decision-makers of the Department of Education with rigorous evidence in support of the implementation of the Basic Education Learning Continuity Plan (BE-LCP) and policy recommendations based on the results. Key policy questions to consider are: 1) how can policymakers ensure that children do not fall behind in their education, and 2) how can policymakers help students be engaged in distance learning?
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Brief
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November 16, 2020
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Business and employment around the world are being severely impacted by COVID-19, as 345 million full-time equivalent (FTE) jobs have been lost worldwide in the third quarter of 2020 alone and 45-53 percent of MSMEs worldwide anticipate falling into debt as a result of COVID-19. IPA conducted phone interviews with 1,357 respondents in mid-May 2020, 71 percent of whom were working before the pandemic hit. This brief summarizes results from the survey on business and employment and makes recommendations for job creation and economic recovery.
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Brief
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November 12, 2020
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Despite the importance of understanding how refugee crises end, little is known about when and why refugees return home. We study the drivers of refugees’ decision-making using original observational and experimental data from a representative sample of 3,003 Syrian refugees in Lebanon. We find that conditions in a refugee’s home country are the primary drivers of return intentions. Refugees’ decisions are influenced primarily by safety and security in their place of origin, their economic prospects, the availability of public services, and their personal networks. Confidence in information is also important, as several drivers of return only impact intentions among people who have high confidence in their information. By contrast, the conditions in refugee–hosting countries—so-called “push” factors—play a much smaller role. Even in the face of hostility and poor living conditions, refugees are unlikely to return unless the situation at home improves significantly
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Working Paper
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November 09, 2020
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This presentation summarizes findings related to the impact of COVID-19 on food security and hunger, based on Round 1 of the RECOVR Survey. Countries surveyed: Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, Zambia, Colombia, Mexico, and the Philippines.
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Report
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November 03, 2020
Encouraging citizens to apply pressure on underperforming service providers has emerged in recent years as a prominent response to the failure of states to provide needed services. We outline three theoretical mechanisms through which bottom-up citizen-oriented pressure campaigns may affect development outcomes and investigate them via a large-scale field experiment in the Ugandan health sector. While we find modest positive impacts on treatment quality and patient satisfaction, we find no effects on utilization rates, child mortality, or other health outcomes. We also find no evidence that citizens increased their monitoring or sanctioning of health workers. Our findings, therefore, cast doubt on the power of outside actors to generate bottom-up pressure by citizens or improvements in development outcomes. Held up against the findings of other, similar studies, our results point to the salience of mechanisms other than citizen pressure for improvements in service delivery, and to the...
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Working Paper
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October 30, 2020
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For those seeking to measure financial health in a quick and simple way, we recommend applying only the Access-to-Funds module of the questionnaire. The questions in our recommended Access-to-Funds module are identical to the 2020 Global Findex’s resilience questions in order to promote standardization in data collection across the sector. This alignment creates the added benefit of being able to leverage other data from the Global Findex database. Our work also attempted to identify the most important questions from the remaining two sections, Financial Behavior and Access-to-Finance, to add to a longer version of a financial health survey instrument. Our analysis showed that particularly in the Financial Behavior section, none of the questions could be identified as clear winners across the multiple settings in which they were tested. For those wishing to use a longer version of our instrument to capture data on Financial Behavior and Access-to-Finance questions in addition to the A...
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Research Resource
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October 23, 2020
Spanish
En muchas ciudades del mundo, los grupos de crimen organizado representan una amenaza creciente para la paz y el desarrollo. Con el objetivo de comprender el funcionamiento de los grupos de crimen organizado de Medellín y evaluar intervenciones de política pública dirigidas a reducir el gobierno criminal ejercido por ellos, los investigadores realizaron diversas entrevistas, una encuesta y dos evaluaciones de impacto. Este documento resume los principales hallazgos.  
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Brief
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October 21, 2020
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Objectives: Disrespectful and poor treatment of newborns such as unnecessary separation from parents or failure to obtain parental consent for medical procedures occurs at health facilities across contexts, but little research has investigated the prevalence, risk factors, or associated outcomes. This study aimed to examine these practices and associations with health care satisfaction, use, and breastfeeding. Design: Prospective cohort study Setting: Health facilities in Nairobi and Kiambu counties in Kenya Participants: Data were collected from women who delivered in health facilities between September 2019 and January 2020. The sample included 1,014 women surveyed at baseline and at least one follow-up at 2-4 or 10 weeks postpartum. Primary and secondary outcome measures: 1) Outcomes related to satisfaction with care and care utilization, 2) Continuation of post-discharge newborn care practices such as breastfeeding. Results: 17.6% of women reported being separated from their newbor...
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Published Paper
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October 21, 2020
Spanish
La contaminación atmosférica crónica en Bogotá, Colombia, tiene graves impactos en la salud humana. El uso de tecnologías de la información y la comunicación (TIC) para difundir información sobre la calidad del aire puede permitir a los ciudadanos reducir su exposición a la contaminación del aire, por ejemplo, evitando que las personas hagan ejercicio al aire libre en ciertos días y en ciertos lugares donde la calidad del aire no es buena, y también puede ayudar a cambiar sus actitudes ambientales y preferencias de política. Para investigar estos vínculos, investigadores del Banco Interamericano de Desarrollo se han asociado con IPA y el Laboratorio de Economía Experimental y del Comportamiento del Rosario (REBEL) para evaluar el impacto de la información sobre la calidad del aire, difundida a través de una aplicación para teléfonos inteligentes llamada AIRE BOGOTÁ, en: los comportamientos de evitación, las actitudes ambientales y las preferencias políticas.
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Brief
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October 19, 2020

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