English
Indoor air pollution (IAP) caused by solid fuel use and/or traditional cooking stoves is a global health threat, particularly for women and young children. The WHO World Health Report 2002 estimates that IAP is responsible for 2.7% of the loss of disability adjusted life years (DALYs) worldwide and 3.7% in high-mortality developing countries. Despite the magnitude of this problem, social scientists have only recently begun to pay closer attention to this issue and to test strategies for reducing IAP. In this paper, we provide a survey of the current literature on the relationship between indoor air pollution, respiratory health and economic well-being. We then discuss the available evidence on the effectiveness of popular policy prescriptions to reduce IAP within the household.
Country:
Program area:
Topics:
Type:
Working Paper
Date:
February 01, 2008
English
In much of the developing world farmers grow crops for local consumption despite export options that appear to be more profitable. This paper reports on a randomized controlled trial conducted by DrumNet in Kenya that attempts to help farmers adopt and market export crops. After one year, DrumNet services led to an increase in production of export crops and lower marketing costs, which translated into household income gains for new adopters. One year after the study, however, the exporter stopped buying from the farmers because they had not become certified to comply with European export requirements. DrumNet collapsed as farmers defaulted on their loans. The risk of such events may explain, at least partly, why many seemingly more profitable export crops are not adopted.   Full published paper is available here.
Country:
Type:
Brief
Date:
January 30, 2008
English
This study designs a natural field experiment linked to a controlled laboratory experiment to examine the effectiveness of matching gifts and challenge gifts, two popular strategies used to secure a portion of the $200 billion annually given to charities. We find evidence that challenge gifts positively influence contributions in the field, but matching gifts do not. Methodologically, we find important similarities and dissimilarities between behavior in the lab and the field. Overall, our results have clear implications for fundraisers and provide avenues for future empirical and theoretical work on charitable iving.
Authors:
Country:
Type:
Working Paper
Date:
January 01, 2008
English
The group liability contract feature is often named as key to the growth in lending markets for the poor. Group liability purports to improve repayment rates by providing incentives for peers to screen, monitor and enforce each other’s loans. However, group liability may create excessive pressure and discourage good clients from borrowing, jeopardizing both growth and sustainability. A Philippine bank removed group liability from randomly selected group-screened lending groups. After three years, we find no increase in default and larger groups, thus showing that banks can do just as well as peers at monitoring and enforcing loans and generating high repayment rates.
Country:
Program area:
Type:
Working Paper
Date:
January 01, 2008
English
We report results from a randomized evaluation of a merit scholarship program in Kenya in which girls who scored well on academic exams at the end of 6th grade had their school fees paid and received a cash grant for school supplies over the next two years. In the sample as a whole, girls eligible for the scholarship showed substantial gains in academic exam scores, and teacher attendance also improved significantly in program schools. There was also evidence of positive externalities: girls with low pre-test scores, who were unlikely to win scholarships, showed test score gains in program schools. We cannot reject the hypothesis that test score gains were the same for girls with low and high pre-test scores. We see no evidence for weakened intrinsic motivation or gaming, and effects persist after incentives were removed. There is also evidence of heterogeneity in program effects, suggesting the impact of incentives is context dependent. In one of the two study districts, test score ef...
Country:
Program area:
Type:
Working Paper
Date:
January 01, 2008
English
Social scientists rely heavily on self-reported data. But can respondents be trusted to report the truth? In this paper, the authors compared survey self reports with administrative data and found that nearly 50% of recent borrowers did not report their high-interest consumer loans. Under-reporting appeared to be correlated with several characteristics, in particular gender. Relying strictly on self-reported data may lead to biased inference, and the authors outline some methodological implications for identifying impacts of credit access on borrower behavior and outcomes. Matching female surveyors to female respondents appears to be one low-cost mitigation strategy. The best strategy, however, is to avoid reliance on self-reported data by using lenders’ administrative data or the credit bureau, when feasible.
Country:
Program area:
Topics:
Type:
Brief
Date:
November 01, 2007
English
In stark contrast to bank debt contracts, most micro-finance contracts require that repayments start nearly immediately after loan disbursement and occur weekly thereafter. Even though economic theory suggests that a more flexible repayment schedule would benefit clients and potentially improve their repayment capacity, micro-finance practitioners argue that the fiscal discipline imposed by frequent repayment is critical to preventing loan default. In this paper we use data from a field experiment which randomized client assignment to a weekly or monthly repayment schedule and find no significant effect of type of repayment schedule on client delinquency or default. Our findings suggest that, among micro-finance clients who are willing to borrow at either weekly or monthly repayment schedules, a more flexible schedule can significantly lower transaction costs without increasing client default.
Country:
Program area:
Type:
Working Paper
Date:
November 01, 2007
English
We compare survey self-reports with administrative data and find that  50% of recent borrowers do not report their high-interest loans. Under-reporting appears to be correlated with several of interest, in particular gender: 62% of women, when interviewed by men, under-report whereas 42% of women interviewed by women under-report. On the other hand, 40% of men under-report, irrespective of the gender of the interviewer. As such relying strictly on self-reported data may lead to biased inference, and we outline some methodological implications for identifying impacts of credit access on borrower behavior and outcomes. Matching female surveyors to female respondents appears to be a low-cost mitigating strategy, but clearly the best strategy is to make sure one has administrative data from a lender to measure actual borrowing history.    Research brief also available here.
Country:
Program area:
Topics:
Type:
Published Paper
Date:
November 01, 2007
English
We use a randomized evaluation of a Kenyan deworming program to estimate peer effects in technology adoption and to shed light on foreign aid donors’ movement towards sustainable community provision of public goods. Deworming is a public good since much of its social benefit comes through reduced disease transmission. People were less likely to take deworming if their direct first-order or indirect second-order social contacts were exposed to deworming. Efforts to replace subsidies with sustainable worm control measures were ineffective: a drug cost-recovery program reduced take-up 80 percent; health education did not affect behavior, and a mobilization intervention failed. At least in this context, it appears unrealistic for a one-time intervention to generate sustainable voluntary local public goods provision.
Country:
Program area:
Type:
Published Paper
Date:
August 01, 2007
English
The economics literature suggests that enhanced social connection can increase trust amongst agents, which can ultimately lead to more efficient economic outcomes, including increased provision of public goods. This study provides a test of whether social connectedness (proxied via agent similarities in race and gender) influences giving to a charitable fundraiser. Using data gathered from more than 2000 households approached in an actual door-to-door fundraising drive, we find limited evidence of the importance of such social connections. A robust result in the data, however, is that our minority solicitors, whether approaching a majority or minority household, are considerably less likely to obtain a contribution, and conditional on securing a contribution, gift size is lower than their majority counterparts receive.
Authors:
Country:
Type:
Published Paper
Date:
August 01, 2007
English
The Millennium Development Goals call for reducing by half the proportion of people without sustainable access to safe drinking water. This goal was adopted in large part because clean water was seen as critical to fighting diarrheal disease, which kills 2 million children annually. There is compelling evidence that provision of piped water and sanitation can substantially reduce child mortality. However, in dispersed rural settlements, providing complete piped water and sanitation infrastructure to households is expensive. Many poor countries have therefore focused instead on providing community-level water infrastructure, such as wells. Various traditional child health interventions have been shown to be effective in fighting diarrhea. Among environmental interventions, handwashing and point-of-use water treatment both reduce diarrhea, although more needs to be learned about ways to encourage households to take up these behavior changes. In contrast, there is little evidence that pro...
Country:
Program area:
Type:
Working Paper
Date:
May 01, 2007
English
Education policy has recently focused on improving accountability and incentives of public providers for actual learning outcomes, often with school-based rewards programs for high performers. The Learning Guarantee Programme in Karnataka, India, is prominent among such efforts, providing cash transfers to government schools that achieve learning at specified high levels. This study examines whether schools that self-selected into the incentive program are different than those that did not. The answer has important implications for how to evaluate the impact of such a program. Although we find no significant differences in resources and characteristics, we do find significant and substantial differences in test scores prior to selection into the program, with better performing schools more likely to opt-in. These findings also provide insight into how incentive-based programs that focus on levels of (rather than changes in) achievement can exacerbate inequality in education. Failing sc...
Country:
Program area:
Topics:
Type:
Published Paper
Date:
April 01, 2007
English
To analyze the prospects for expanding financial access to the poor, bank professionals assessed 1,438 households in six provinces in Indonesia to judge their creditworthiness. About 40 percent of poor households were judged creditworthy according to the criteria of Indonesia’s largest microfinance bank, but fewer than 10 percent had recently borrowed from a microbank or formal lender. Possessing collateral appeared as a minor determinant of creditworthiness, in keeping with microfinance innovations. Although these households were judged able to service loans reliably, most desired small loans. Calculations show that the bank, given its current fee structure and banking practices, would lose money when lending at the scales desired. So, while innovations have helped to extend financial access, it remains difficult to lend in small amounts and cover costs
Authors:
Country:
Program area:
Type:
Brief
Date:
March 01, 2007
English
This paper presents a randomized field experiment on reducing corruptionin over 600 Indonesian village road projects. I find that increasinggovernment audits from 4 percent of projects to 100 percentreduced missing expenditures, as measured by discrepancies betweenofficial project costs and an independent engineers' estimate of costs,by eight percentage points. By contrast, increasing grassroots participationin monitoring had little average impact, reducing missing expendituresonly in situations with limited free-rider problems andlimited elite capture. Overall, the results suggest that traditional topdownmonitoring can play an important role in reducing corruption,even in a highly corrupt environment.
Authors:
Country:
Program area:
Type:
Published Paper
Date:
January 01, 2007
English
We conducted a natural field experiment to further our understanding of the economics of charity. Using direct mail solicitations to over 50,000 prior donors of a non-profit organization, we tested the effectiveness of a matching grant on charitable giving. We find that the match offer increases both the revenue per solicitation and the response rate. Larger match ratios (i.e., $3:$1 and $2:$1) relative to a smaller match ratio ($1:$1) had no additional impact, however. The results provide avenues for future empirical and theoretical work on charitable giving, costbenefit analysis, and the private provision of public goods.
Country:
Type:
Working Paper
Date:
January 01, 2007
English
This paper uses survey data from 13 countries todocument the economic lives of the poor (those livingon less than $2 dollar per day per capita at purchasingpower parity ) or the extremely poor (those living onless than $1 dollar per day). We describe theirpatterns of consumption and income generation aswell as their access to markets and publicly providedinfrastructure. The paper concludes with a discussionof some apparent anomalous choices.
Type:
Published Paper
Date:
January 01, 2007
English
This paper is a practical guide (a toolkit) for researchers, students and practitioners wishing to introduce randomization as part of a research design in the field. It first covers the rationale for the use of randomization, as a solution to selection bias and a partial solution to publication biases. Second, it discusses various ways in which randomization can be practically introduced in a field settings. Third, it discusses designs issues such as sample size requirements, stratification, level of randomization and data collection methods. Fourth, it discusses how to analyze data from randomized evaluations when there are departures from the basic framework. It reviews in particular how to handle imperfect compliance and externalities. Finally, it discusses some of the issues involved in drawing general conclusions from randomized evaluations, including the necessary use of theory as a guide when designing evaluations and interpreting results.
Country:
Type:
Report
Date:
December 01, 2006
English
We analyze a randomized experiment in which 14,000 tax filers in H&R Block offices in St. Louis received matches of zero, 20 percent, or 50 percent of IRA contributions. Take-up rates were 3 percent, 8 percent, and 14 percent, respectively. Among contributors, contributions, excluding the match, averaged $765 in the control group and $1100 in the match groups. Taxpayer responses to similar incentives in the Saver’s Credit are much smaller. Taxpayers did not game the experiment by receiving a match and strategically withdrawing funds. Tax professionals significantly influenced contribution choices. These results suggest that both incentives and information affect behavior.
Country:
Type:
Published Paper
Date:
November 01, 2006
English
This paper presents the results of two randomized experiments conducted in schools in urban India. A remedial education program hired young women to teach students lagging behind in basic literacy and numeracy skills. It increased average test scores of all children in treatment schools by 0.28 standard deviation, mostly due to large gains experienced by children at the bottom of the test-score distribution. A computer-assisted learning program focusing on math increased math scores by 0.47 standard deviation. One year after the programs were over initial gains remained significant for targeted children, but they faded to about 0.10 standard deviation.
Country:
Program area:
Type:
Working Paper
Date:
October 01, 2006
English
The authors report results from a randomized evaluation comparing three school-based HIV/AIDS interventions in Kenya: (1) training teachers in the Kenyan Government's HIV/AIDS-education curriculum; (2) encouraging students to debate the role of condoms and to write essays on how to protect themselves against HIV/AIDS; and (3) reducing the cost of education. Their primary measure of the effectiveness of these interventions is teenage childbearing, which is associated with unprotected sex. The authors also collected measures of knowledge, attitudes, and behavior regarding HIV/AIDS. After two years, girls in schools where teachers had been trained were more likely to be married in the event of a pregnancy. The program had little other impact on students' knowledge, attitudes, and behavior, or on the incidence of teen childbearing. The condom debates and essays increased practical knowledge and self-reported use of condoms without increasing self-reported sexual activity. Reducing the cost...
Country:
Program area:
Type:
Working Paper
Date:
October 01, 2006

Pages