English
Biomass combustion with traditional cookstoves causes substantial environmental and health harm. Nontraditional cookstove technologies can be efficacious in reducing this adverse impact, but they are adopted and used at puzzlingly low rates. This study analyzes the determinants of low demand for nontraditional cookstoves in rural Bangladesh by using both stated preference (from a nationally representative survey of rural women) and revealed preference (assessed by conducting a cluster-randomized trial of cookstove prices) approaches. We find consistent evidence across both analyses suggesting that the women in rural Bangladesh do not perceive indoor air pollution as a significant health hazard, prioritize other basic developmental needs over nontraditional cookstoves, and overwhelmingly rely on a free traditional cookstove technology and are therefore not willing to pay much for a new nontraditional cookstove. Efforts to improve health and abate environmental harm by promoting nontradi...
Country:
Program area:
Type:
Published Paper
Date:
May 01, 2012
English
We utilize the Becker-DeGroot-Marschak (1964) mechanism to estimate the willingness to pay for clean drinking water technology in northern Ghana. The BDM mechanism has attractive properties for empirical research, allowing us to directly estimate demand, compute heterogeneous treatment effects, and study the screening and causal effects of prices with minor modifications to a standard field experiment setting. We demonstrate the implementation of BDM along these three dimensions, compare it to the standard take-it-or-leave it method for eliciting willingness to pay, and discuss practical issues for implementing the mechanism in true field settings.
Country:
Program area:
Type:
Working Paper
Date:
April 01, 2012
English
Despite their importance, there is limited evidence on how institutions can be strengthened. Evaluating the effects of specific reforms is complicated by the lack of exogenous variation in institutions, the difficulty of measuring institutional performance, and the temptation to "cherry pick" estimates from among the large number of indicators required to capture this multifaceted subject. We evaluate one attempt to make local institutions more democratic and egalitarian by imposing participation requirements for marginalized groups (including women) and test for learning-by-doing effects. We exploit the random assignment of a governance program in Sierra Leone, develop innovative real-world outcome measures, and use a preanalysis plan (PAP) to bind our hands against data mining. The intervention studied is a "community-driven development" program, which has become a popular strategy for foreign aid donors. We find positive short-run effects on local public goods and economic outcomes,...
Country:
Program area:
Type:
Published Paper
Date:
April 01, 2012
English
This study provides experimental evidence about the barriers to adoption of formal savings in Africa. In collaboration with a large commercial bank, I conduct an experiment designed to measure the relative importance of convenience and information on the adoption of formal savings. When individuals can open an account at their place of business they are much more likely to open an account. Novel information about the benefits of savings has a slight but insignificant negative effect on account opening. While over half (55%) of individuals report an interest in opening an account when initially approached, only 2% of individuals are using the accounts 2 months later. I explore several potential explanations between individuals’ selfreports of interest in the accounts and their later behavior. I argue that individuals’ behavior in the experiment is consistent with social pressure to conform to the encouragement to open an account and some projection bias in predicting their future behavi...
Country:
Program area:
Topics:
Type:
Working Paper
Date:
April 01, 2012
English
A quota system for female village leaders in India changed perceptions of women’s abilities, improved women’s electoral chances, and raised aspirations and educational attainment for adolescent girls.
Country:
Program area:
Topics:
Type:
Brief
Date:
April 01, 2012
English
We partner with a New York City-based credit union to test a commitment savings product and financial counseling among a low-income population. The product, marketed as a Super Saver Certificate of Deposit (SSCD), allows gradual deposits toward a client’s savings goal but imposes penalties for missed goals or early withdrawals. We randomly assigned credit union members to a SSCD product offer, an offer of free financial counseling, or a survey-only control group. We find strong demand for both SSCD and counseling that is positively correlated with proxies for behavioral biases. 65.7% of SSCD holders avoided substantial penalties by holding to maturity, and the average closing balance was $910. However, only 32.3% of SSCD clients met their chosen goal amount, and we do not find significant evidence that either the SSCD product offer or the financial counseling treatment increases savings balances or net assets, or affects borrowing behavior, relative to our control group.
Country:
Type:
Working Paper
Date:
March 01, 2012
English
Inexpensive, school-based deworming treatment improves health and school attendance in the short term, improves productivity in the long term, and even benefits untreated neighbors and siblings.
Country:
Program area:
Type:
Brief
Date:
March 01, 2012
English
Most people in rural Africa do not have bank accounts. In this paper, we combine experimental and survey evidence from Western Kenya to document some of the supply and demand factors behind such low levels of financial inclusion. Our experiment had two parts. In the first part, we waived the fixed cost of opening a basic savings account at a local bank for a random subset of individuals who were initially unbanked. While 63% of people opened an account, only 18% actively used it. Survey evidence suggests that the main reasons people did not begin saving in their bank accounts are that: (1) they do not trust the bank, (2) service is unreliable, and (3) withdrawal fees are prohibitively expensive. In the second part of the experiment, we provided information on local credit options and lowered the eligibility requirements for an initial small loan. Within the following 6 months, only 3% of people initiated the loan application process. Survey evidence suggests that people do not borrow b...
Country:
Program area:
Type:
Working Paper
Date:
February 06, 2012
English
Restructuring a traditional cash transfer program in Colombia significantly increased re-enrollment in secondary school without weakening students’ incentives to attend on a daily basis.
Country:
Program area:
Type:
Brief
Date:
February 01, 2012
English
Conflict early warning remains an important but elusive goal in Liberia. If outbreaks of violence could be predicted before they occur, early responders could focus their energies and scarce resources on the highest-risk communities. Is such a goal realistic? Early warning requires a simple system for generating reliable predictions—a system that is not only accurate, but is also consistent over time and across counties and communities. This is a difficult, maybe impossible, task. In this report we describe results from a two-year study that suggest prediction may be more promising than we initially expected. We use fine-grained quantitative data from a survey of 247 rural Liberian towns and villages to assess whether statistical analysis can be used to predict conflict over time. To our surprise, we find that models built on fewer than 10 risk factors measured in 2008 accurately predict up to 75% of all conflicts two years later. We began this exercise skeptical, and these accuracy ra...
Country:
Type:
Working Paper
Date:
February 01, 2012
English
The authors evaluated the use of conditional cash transfers as an HIV and sexually transmitted infection prevention strategy to incentivise safe sex. An unblinded, individually randomised and controlled trial of 10 villages within the Kilombero/Ulanga districts of the Ifakara Health and Demographic Surveillance System in rural south-west Tanzania. The authors enrolled 2399 participants, aged 18–30 years, including adult spouses. The primary study end point was combined prevalence of the four sexually transmitted infections, which were tested and reported to subjects every 4 months:Chlamydia trachomatis, Neisseria gonorrhoeae, Trichomonas vaginalis and Mycoplasma genitalium. The authors also tested for HIV, herpes simplex virus 2 and syphilis at baseline and month 12. Conditional cash transfers used to incentivise safer sexual practices are a potentially promising new tool in HIV and sexually transmitted infections prevention. Additional larger study would be useful to clarify the effec...
Country:
Program area:
Type:
Published Paper
Date:
February 01, 2012
English
This paper documents a widely overlooked dimension of relationship lending: the personal interaction between the borrower and the lender reduces the willingness of the borrower to engage in moral hazard and default on the loan officer. We conduct a randomized experiment with small business borrowers of the largest commercial bank in India to test the impact of three different levels of interactions between the borrower and the bank. Borrowers who are regularly called either by a single assigned relationship manager or by one manager randomly selected from a small team of managers shows much better repayment behavior and greater satisfaction with the bank services than borrowers who either receive no follow up or only receive follow up calls from the bank when they are delinquent. The results are economically and statistically significant: borrowers who receive the more intensive treatment see a large reduction in the number of late payment spells and delinquencies.
Country:
Type:
Working Paper
Date:
January 01, 2012
English
Can training Zambian girls in negotiation skills positively impact their health and education outcomes?
Country:
Program area:
Type:
Brief
Date:
January 01, 2012
English
Can cash transfers promote employment and reduce poverty in rural Africa? Will lower youth unemployment and poverty reduce the risk of social instability? We experimentally evaluate one of Uganda's largest development programs, which provided thousands of young people nearly unconditional, unsupervised cash transfers to pay for vocational training, tools, and business start-up costs. Mid-term results after two years suggest four main findings. First, despite a lack of central monitoring and accountability, most youth invest the transfer in vocational skills and tools. Second, the economic impacts of the transfer are large: hours of non-household employment double and cash earnings increase by nearly 50% relative to the control group. We estimate the transfer yields a real annual return on capital of 35% on average. Third, the evidence suggests that poor access to credit is a major reason youth cannot start these vocations in the absence of aid. Much of the heterogeneity in impacts is u...
Country:
Program area:
Type:
Working Paper
Date:
December 01, 2011
English
Financial development is critical for growth, but its microdeterminants are not well understood. We test leading theories of low demand for financial services in emerging markets, combining novel survey evidence from Indonesia and India with a field experiment. We find a strong correlation between financial literacy and behavior. However, a financial education program has modest effects, increasing demand for bank accounts only for those with limited education or financial literacy. In contrast, small subsidies greatly increase demand. A follow-up survey confirms these findings, demonstrating that newly opened accounts remain open and in use 2 years after the intervention.
Country:
Program area:
Type:
Published Paper
Date:
December 01, 2011
English
We report on a study that used observations, conversations, and formal interviews to explore literacy instruction in 24 lower-primary classrooms in coastal Kenya. Specifically, we report the ways literacy instruction is delivered and how that delivery aligns with practices understood to promote reading acquisition. We find (1) prioritization of developing oral language skills over teaching the relationships between sounds and symbols, (2) enablers to literacy instruction that are the result of teachers’ efforts, and (3) constraints to successful literacy instruction as perceived by the teachers.We identify challenges and opportunities to improve literacy instruction in English and Swahili.
Country:
Program area:
Type:
Published Paper
Date:
November 15, 2011
English
Conditional cash transfers (CCTs) have recently received considerable attention as a potentially innovative and effective approach to the prevention of HIV/AIDS. We evaluate a conditional cash transfer program in rural Malawi which offered financial incentives to men and women to maintain their HIV status for approximately one year. The amounts of the reward ranged from zero to approximately 3–4 months wage. We find no effect of the offered incentives on HIV status or on reported sexual behavior. However, shortly after receiving the reward, men who received the cash transfer were 9 percentage points more likely and women were 6.7 percentage points less likely to engage in risky sex. Our analyses therefore question the “unconditional effectiveness” of CCT program for HIV prevention: CCT Programs that aim to motivate safe sexual behavior in Africa should take into account that money given in the present may have much stronger effects than rewards offered in the future, and any effect of...
Country:
Program area:
Type:
Published Paper
Date:
November 02, 2011
English
In 2009, the results from two microcredit impact studies in Hyderabad, India, and Manila, the Philippines were released to mixed responses (Banerjee, Duflo, Glennerster, and Kinnan 2010; Karlan and Zinman 2011). Some media declared microfinance a failure (Bennett 2009). Many in the microfinance community dismissed these randomized studies as too limited to be a true reflection of the entire sector. These first randomized studies caused a sensation because they challenged the dominant impact narrative for microcredit—a narrative that rests on loans to capital-constrained microentrepreneurs who earn a steep return on marginal capital and thus can repay a relatively high interest rate and reinvest to grow out of poverty—and the way in which that narrative had been universalized in the popular imagination. In fact, the results were more nuanced. What the microcredit studies really showed is that this model of microcredit works for some populations—those who successfully grow businesses—but...
Country:
Program area:
Type:
Report
Date:
November 01, 2011
English
This study reports the results of a randomized impact evaluation of a program designed to reach the poorest of the poor and elevate them out of extreme poverty. The program, which includes the direct transfer of productive assets (e.g. livestock) and additional training, was initially developed in Bangladesh, where it has reached thousands of beneficiaries, and is being piloted and studied in over seven countries. The results of this study, based on a pilot in India, indicate that this intervention succeeds in elevating the economic situation of the poorest. We find that the program results in a 15% increase in household consumption and has positive impacts on other measures of household wealth and welfare, such as assets and emotional well-being. Our results are consistent with the notion that the wealth transfer, in the form of asset distribution, directly increased consumption among beneficiary households through the liquidation of assets, but other sources of income, notably from s...
Country:
Program area:
Type:
Working Paper
Date:
November 01, 2011
English
Policymakers in Liberia face a dearth of evidence to guide their ambitious agenda of security sector reform, strengthening of property rights and the rule of law, and reconciliation. This lack of data is especially acute outside the capital and in areas where UN and police presence is limited.
Country:
Type:
Brief
Date:
October 25, 2011

Pages