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How can new democracies and societies emerging from conflict encourage tolerance and dialogue, strengthen conflict resolution systems, and increase understanding of human rights? 
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Brief
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September 01, 2011
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Even very small incentives can encourage people to return for their HIV test results. However, for most people, learning status did not substantially change the number of condoms they purchased.
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Brief
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August 01, 2011
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Policymakers and microfinance institutions (MFIs) often claim to target poor entrepreneurs who then invest loan proceeds in their businesses. Typically in nonresearch settings these claims are assessed using readily available but unverified self reports from client loan applications. Alternatively, independent surveyors could directly elicit how borrowers spent their loan proceeds. That too, however, could suffer from deliberate misreporting. We use data from the Peru and the Philippines in which independent surveyors elicited loan use both directly (i.e., by asking how individuals spent their loan proceeds) and indirectly (i.e., through a list-randomization technique that allows individuals to hide their answer from the surveyor). We find that direct elicitation under-reports the non-enterprise uses of loan proceeds.
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Published Paper
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August 01, 2011
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Standard models of investment predict that credit-constrained firms should grow rapidly when given additional capital, and that how this capital is provided should not affect decisions to invest in the business or consume the capital. We randomly gave cash and in kind grants to male- and female-owned microenterprises in urban Ghana. Our findings cast doubt on the ability of capital alone to stimulate the growth of female microenterprises. First, while the average treatment effects of the in-kind grants are large and positive for both males and females, the gain in profits is almost zero for women with initial profits below the median, suggesting that capital alone is not enough to grow subsistence enterprises owned by women. Second, for women we strongly reject equality of the cash and in-kind grants; only in-kind grants lead to growth in business profits. The results for men also suggest a lower impact of cash, but differences between cash and in kind grants are less robust. The diffe...
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Working Paper
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July 01, 2011
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The World Bank and other donors dedicate sizeable portions of their portfolios to community driven development (CDD) projects, yet until recently there has been little rigorous evidence regarding the efficacy of this approach. By emphasizing local participation in and control over project implementation, CDD has come to be seen as an efficient and accountable mechanism to deliver local public goods. But CDD aims to do much more than this. Through intensive, long term facilitation, CDD aims to strengthen local institutions, make them more democratic and inclusive of marginalized groups, and enhance the capacity of communities to engage in collective action. This evaluation tests the extent to which CDD achieved these goals in Sierra Leone.
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Report
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July 01, 2011
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2012 is IPA’s ten year anniversary, so we are reflecting not only on how we have grown this past year, but this past decade. We started with a core aim: to improve the way the world fights poverty by bridging the divide between research and action. We do this first by discovering the most effective solutions, and learning why they work. What psychological, environmental, and cultural factors encourage people to do what they do? When we know the why we can more effectively translate knowledge into practice and help scale up successful ideas in the right places.
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Annual Report
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July 01, 2011
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Increasing education for girls is an important policy priority in many developing countries, where secondary school enrollment often remains lower for girls than for boys. Some researchers and policymakers have argued that menstruation may be causing girls to miss a significant number of school days. At the maximum, some have estimated that girls might be missing as much as 10 to 20 percent of school days due to menstruation. Anecdotal evidence seems to support this. Girls report missing school during their periods and lacking access to modern sanitary products. In response, NGOs and sanitary product manufacturers have conducted campaigns to distribute sanitary products in the hope that this will remove a barrier to female education (CH Deutsch. 2007. “A Not-So- Simple Plan to Keep African Girls in School.” NYT Nov. 12). However, there has been little or no rigorous evidence on how much school girls miss due to their periods and the impact of providing sanitary products. Emily Oster an...
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Brief
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June 01, 2011
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Microcredit institutions spend billions of dollars fighting poverty by making small loans primarily to female entrepreneurs. Proponents argue that microcredit mitigates market failures, spurs micro-enterprise growth, and boosts borrowers’ well-being. We tested these hypotheses with the use of an innovative, replicable experimental design that randomly assigned individual liability microloans (of $225 on average) to 1601 individuals in the Philippines through credit scoring. After 11 to 22 months, we found evidence consistent with unmet demand at the current price (a roughly 60% annualized interest rate): Net borrowing increased in the treatment group relative to controls. However, the number of business activities and employees in the treatment group decreased relative to controls, and subjective well-being declined slightly. We also found little evidence that treatment effects were more pronounced for women. However, we did find that microloans increase ability to cope with risk, stre...
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Published Paper
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June 01, 2011
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We report the results from a field experiment with a micro lender in Uganda to test the effectiveness of privately implemented incentives for loan repayment. Using a randomized control trial we measure the impact of three different treatments: Borrowers are either given a lump sum cash reward upon completion of the loan (equivalent to a 25% interest rate reduction on the current loan), a 25% reduction of the interest rate in the next loan the borrower takes from the bank, or a monthly text message reminder before the loan payment is due (SMS). We find that on average the size of the treatment effect is similar across all the treatment groups: borrowers in the treatment groups have a 7-9% increase in the probability of paying on time and the average days late drop by 2 days a month. The results suggest that simple text messages which help borrowers to better manage their repayment dates have similar effects as large changes in the cost of capital of 25% of interest. The impact of the ca...
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Working Paper
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May 01, 2011
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Most academic and development policy discussions about microentrepreneurs focus on credit constraints and assume that subject to those constraints, the entrepreneurs manage their business optimally. Yet the self-employed poor rarely have any formal training in business skills. A growing number of microfinance organizations are attempting to build the human capital of microentrepreneurs in order to improve the livelihood of their clients and help further their mission of poverty alleviation. Using a randomized control trial, we measure the marginal impact of adding business training to a Peruvian group lending program for female microentrepreneurs. Treatment groups received thirty- to sixty-minute entrepreneurship training sessions during their normal weekly or monthly banking meeting over a period of one to two years. Control groups remained as they were before, meeting at the same frequency but solely for making loan and savings payments. We find little or no evidence of changes in ke...
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Published Paper
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May 01, 2011
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Using a student level randomization, we compare three education-based conditional cash transfers designs: a standard design, a design where part of the monthly transfers are postponed until children have to re-enroll in school, and a design that lowers the reward for attendance but incentivizes graduation and tertiary enrollment. The two nonstandard designs significantly increase enrollment rates at both the secondary and tertiary levels while delivering the same attendance gains as the standard design. Postponing some of the attendance transfers to the time of re-enrollment appears particularly effective for the most at-risk children
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Published Paper
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April 03, 2011
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Charging small fees dramatically reduces access to important products for the poor.
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Brief
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April 01, 2011
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In this paper we test whether procrastination and planning problems affect the performance, compensation and work satisfaction among employees. We conducted a randomized controlled experiment with a bank in Colombia to change the frequency and intensity with which employees received reminders about goal achievements. We also provided small in-kind prizes every week to remind employees of their goal achievement. Loan officers in the treatment group showed strong improvements in their goal achievements, better work load distribution, and higher monthly compensation (not including the value of the small prizes). The intervention also improved worker satisfaction and reduced stress levels, without affecting the quality of the loan officers’ portfolios. We show that including branch managers (the supervisors of the loan officers) in the intervention was central in achieving these results, since they played a key role in reinforcing the reminders and helping employees with planning problems....
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Working Paper
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April 01, 2011
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Many effective health products and behaviors available through the private market are not widely adopted in less developed countries. For example, fewer than 10% of households in our Kenyan study area treat their water with dilute chlorine. Using a suite of randomized evaluations, we find that information and marketing interventions do little to boost use of chlorine. However, chlorine take-up is highly sensitive to price, convenience and social context, with more than half of households using chlorine when an individually-packaged supply is delivered free to the home. The highest sustained take-up is achieved by combining free, convenient, salient, and public access through a point-of-collection chlorine dispenser system and a local promoter. More than half of households treat their water and this use continues 30 months later even though promoters are paid only for the first six months. The estimated long-run costs of this intervention at scale, including administrative costs, are be...
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Working Paper
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April 01, 2011
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We use data from a survey of young Kenyan adults who participated in a deworming program as children to calibrate a version of the Grossman (1972) model, in which investments in health increase future endowments of healthy time. Mean hours worked increase by 12% in the treatment group, or 1.8 more hours each week on a base of 15.2. There is also evidence that deworming generated positive externalities in work hours. Furthermore, both the direct and externality effects are even larger in our preferred subsample analysis on out-of-school youth. Gains are concentrated outside of traditional agriculture, among small business owners and those working for wages. Among wage earners no longer in school, the treatment group earned over 20% more, with manufacturing employment tripling. These results suggest health improvements may increase labor supply and facilitate structural transformation. A calibration of the model combining data on the impacts of deworming and the price responsiveness of d...
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Working Paper
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March 01, 2011
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Poverty, lack of female empowerment, and lack of education are major risk factors for childhood illness worldwide. Microcredit programs, by offering small loans to poor individuals, attempt to address the first two of these risk factors, poverty and gender disparity. They provide clients, usually women, with a means to invest in their businesses and support their families. This study investigates the health effects of also addressing the remaining risk factor, lack of knowledge about important health issues, through randomization of members of a microcredit organization to receive a health education module based on the World Health Organization’s Integrated Management of Childhood Illness (IMCI) community intervention.
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Published Paper
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January 24, 2011
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Farmers face a particular set of risks that complicate the decision to borrow. We use a randomized experiment to investigate (1) the role of crop-price risk in reducing demand for credit among farmers and (2) how risk mitigation changes farmers’ investment decisions. In Ghana, we offer farmers loans with an indemnity component that forgives 50 percent of the loan if crop prices drop below a threshold price. A control group is offered a standard loan product at the same interest rate. Loan uptake is high among all farmers and the indemnity component has little impact on uptake or other outcomes of interest. 
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Published Paper
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January 20, 2011
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This paper draws lessons from an original randomized experiment in Malawi. In order to understand why roads in relatively good condition in rural areas may not be used by buses, a minibus service was subsidized over a six-month period over a distance of 20 kilometers to serve five villages. Using randomly allocated prices for use of the bus, this experiment demonstrates that at very low prices, bus usage is high. Bus usage decreases rapidly with increased prices. However, based on the results on take-up and minibus provider surveys, the experiment demonstrates that at any price, low (with high usage) or high (with low usage), a bus service provider never breaks even on this road. This can contribute to explain why walking or cycling is so widespread on most rural roads in Sub-Saharan Africa. In terms of policy implications, this experiment explains that motorized services need to be subsidized; otherwise a road in good condition will most probably not lead to provision of service at an...
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Working Paper
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January 01, 2011
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Following the 2011 elections, one of the most pressing challenges for the President, government ministries and international organizations is boosting youth incomes and employment, especially those of high-risk youth. What kinds of programs can boost employment and incomes and reduce the risk of social instability? This report details findings from an impact evaluation of a reintegration and agricultural livelihoods program for high-risk Liberian youth, and draws out lessons for employment policies in 2012 and beyond.
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Report
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January 01, 2011
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We use a randomized experiment to test whether and what information changes teenagers’ sexual behavior in Kenya. Providing information on the relative risk of HIV infection by partner’s age led to a 28 percent decrease in teen pregnancy, an objective proxy for the incidence of unprotected sex.
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January 01, 2011

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