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According to the 2019 FinAccess survey, 8.4 percent of mobile money users in Kenya report having lost funds on their mobile money accounts—and 70 percent of these cases were due to third-party phone or SMS fraud. Yet no one has unpacked why certain consumers suffer from fraud, nor why they often don’t use formal complaints channels when they suffer loss of funds or fraud. Similarly, FinAccess found that 42 percent of mobile money users could not correctly interpret the price disclosure screen, and 19 percent of digital borrowers  report issues with transparency of fees. Yet little is known how this influences financial decisions and what new information or delivery channels may impact knowledge and choice. This survey will answer these and other key questions on consumer protection in digital finance to help inform further experimentation and policy development. We will also leverage this existing survey to provide governments and organizations responding to the COVID crisis informatio...
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Report
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March 01, 2021
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We partnered with the Ghanaian government to evaluate four methods of increasing achievement in schools with low average but heterogeneous student achievement. All methods focused on teaching at the learning level of the child—a remedial pull-out program with a teaching assistant, a remedial after school program with an assistant, an assistant teaching half the students, or teachers focusing on homogeneous groups of learners. Despite imperfect implementation, student learning increased across all four more so for female students, and gains persisted after the program ended. Fidelity of implementation decreased over time for the assistants but increased for the teachers.
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Working Paper
Date:
March 01, 2021
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We will conduct a survey of digital finance users—active and dormant— across Nigeria. The survey will cover active and dormant users of electronic payments products, mobile banking products, agent banking, and digital credit. Users of these products will be queried on key consumer protection topics including: Pricing transparency; Fraud; Experiences at agent locations; Complaints handling and redress. We will also leverage this existing survey to provide governments and organizations responding to the COVID crisis information about the financial impacts of the pandemic by measuring recent changes in financial resiliency, use of mobile money and phone-based loans, and instances of digital fraud.
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Report
Date:
March 01, 2021
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Gangs govern millions worldwide. Why rule? And how do they respond to states? Many argue that criminal rule provides protection when states do not, and that increasing state services could crowd gangs out. We began by interviewing leaders from 30 criminal groups in Medellín. The conventional view overlooks gangs’ indirect incentives to rule: governing keeps police out and fosters civilian loyalty, protecting other business lines. We present a model of duopolistic competition with returns to loyalty and show under what conditions exogenous changes to state protection cause gangs to change governance levels. We run the first gang-level field experiment, intensifying city governance in select neighborhoods for two years. We see no decrease in gang rule. We also examine a quasi-experiment. New borders in Medellín created discontinuities in access to government services for 30 years. Gangs responded to greater state rule by governing more. We propose alternatives for countering criminal gov...
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Published Paper
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February 26, 2021
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In February 2021, the HTRI launched an open call for proposals for seed grants for partnership building, pilots, and data analysis. This RFP is closed as of March 21, 2021. Thank you to all who shared your submissions. The Human Trafficking Research Initiative (HTRI) invites proposals from researchers and organizations that intend to design and carry out studies on how to reduce human trafficking or respond to the needs of human trafficking victims, but need some additional time and support to push the research project to the next stage. We expect to fund a total of 6 to 9 proposals in this round that, as noted below, could cover a range of different activities.  With this call for proposals, IPA solicits proposals from researcher teams interested in expanding the evidence to further investigate this important topic. The fund will consider human trafficking research projects from all approaches to reduce human trafficking, including prevention, protection, prosecution, advocacy, and re...
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Research Resource
Date:
February 22, 2021
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In February 2021, the HTRI launched an open call for proposals for seed grants for partnership building, pilots, and data analysis. This RFP is closed as of March 21, 2021. This announcement document describes the RFP in detail, and the application guidelines covered specific details on how to apply. Due to the gravity and pervasiveness of human trafficking, it is of vital importance that practitioners, policymakers, and researchers strengthen the evidence on what programs work to reduce trafficking and protect victims. Innovations for Poverty Action established the Human Trafficking Research Initiative (HTRI) to work with researchers and partner organizations to expand the evidence base on effective solutions to reduce modern slavery and human trafficking. Over the next five years, IPA aims to facilitate and support meaningful, rigorous, and policy-relevant studies on trafficking to help combat this egregious global problem.  The purpose of this research fund is to build on sound theo...
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Research Resource
Date:
February 22, 2021
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This plain-language brief summarizes the findings in the paper Falling living standards during the COVID-19 crisis: Quantitative evidence from nine developing countries published in Science Advances. The COVID-19 pandemic and the social-distancing policies put in place to contain the virus have led to a reduction in economic activity around the world. Families in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs), many of whom work in the informal sector and lack social safety nets, face potentially stark threats to their livelihoods. However, little data exists on how these communities are being affected. During April-July 2020, researchers collected data on the early socioeconomic effects of COVID-19 using phone surveys of over 30,000 households (containing over 100,000 people) in Bangladesh, Burkina Faso, Colombia, Ghana, Kenya, Nepal, Philippines, Rwanda, and Sierra Leone.
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Brief
Date:
February 05, 2021
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This study uses a randomized controlled trial in Pakistan to test whether one-on-one engagement with community religious leaders can encourage them to instruct congregants to comply with public health guidelines when attending religious gatherings. Treated religious leaders are 25% more likely to tell a "mystery shopper" he must wear a mask to attend. Treatment effects are driven by respondents who understand COVID transmission at baseline, suggesting the treatment does not work by correcting basic knowledge about the disease. Rather, it may work by connecting this knowledge to respondents' pro-social motivations and actions that they can take as community leaders.
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Working Paper
Date:
February 01, 2021
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Standard quality control procedures for face-to-face surveys use a set of techniques to measure data quality including resurveying respondents on a subset of questions (“backchecking”), accompanying enumerators during the start of the survey to target retraining, and a set of automated data checks. The pivot to remote survey modes made some of these quality control processes impossible to implement.   IPA Colombia piloted a data quality review system meant to improve retention rates and response quality during a high-frequency computer-assisted telephone interview (CATI) that lasted eight days. Due to concerns about low response rate in the follow-up, the project team elected to not backcheck surveys, where researchers resurvey a random subset of respondents to estimate data quality measures. Instead, the project team leveraged audio metadata and double entry from audio recordings to identify potential errors and areas of improvement for interviewer retraining.
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Phone Survey Methods Resource
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January 25, 2021
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Researchers often have a database of addresses as a starting point for sampling design. They often want to sample from some geographic unit like a neighborhood. To do this, they need geospatial data, which is a set of coordinates that represent the boundaries of the geographic unit, and software capable of locating these coordinates. This is called geolocation. This brief describes the performance of two tools that IPA Colombia used to sample respondents based on geolocated data. The Google Geolocation API and QGIS outperformed ArcGIS in terms of geolocation accuracy by a substantive margin
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Phone Survey Methods Resource
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January 25, 2021
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The “Proyecto Mi Barrio” research project based in Medellín, Colombia conducted phone surveys over a one-month period during the COVID-19 pandemic. The survey aimed to analyze how organized crime groups were responding to the pandemic. To ensure that the sample was representative of the full set of neighborhoods, or barrio, the project used quota sampling, where a set number of respondents from each neighborhood was targeted to be surveyed. The research team fully automated this process in SurveyCTO to reduce sources of error. 
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Phone Survey Methods Resource
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January 25, 2021
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Phone surveys can be an especially difficult mode over which to collect sensitive data. IPA Colombia conducted phone surveys in May and June, 2020 to understand how the organized crime groups of Medellín were responding to the COVID-19 pandemic. This necessitated asking sensitive questions about organized crime and illegal activities, specifically, extortion, perception of the drug market, and behavior of criminal groups. It can be particularly difficult to build trust over the phone, especially when the respondent cannot easily confirm who they are speaking to. The project team conducted an extensive piloting process to test multiple strategies for building trust and designing questionnaires. After completing this process, they catalogued a set of best practices for phone surveying with sensitive questions based on their experience.
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Phone Survey Methods Resource
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January 25, 2021
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Many projects collecting data had to move to remote survey modes due to COVID-19 health risks for staff and participants. This may make it impossible to exercise control over the data collection environment, which is particularly important to ensure that behavioral studies can accurately estimate the effect of the intervention. Video conference software is a promising alternative to face-to-face surveys in some contexts where the study population has access to computers, tablets, or smartphones. IPA Colombia trialed protocols to conduct studies using video call software and self-administered forms. Successful practices include confirming computer operation and connectivity before launching and using breakout rooms and recorded explanations. These recommendations can be applied to any type of video interviewing.
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Phone Survey Methods Resource
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January 25, 2021
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Innovations for Poverty Action (IPA) shifted its data collection efforts during the COVID-19 pandemic to phone surveys. The IPA Ghana office developed and operationalized new study protocols in large research projects based on experiences implementing virtual phone banks and testing protocols during piloting. While it is important to re-write questionnaires, re-train enumerators, and overhaul data quality procedures for phone surveys, establishing effective protocols for building rapport and trust are vital to ensure that phone surveys produce high-quality data. Authors: Ishmail Azindoo Baako, Mathew Bidinlib, Silvana Limni, Sasha Thomas
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Phone Survey Methods Resource
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January 25, 2021
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The IPA Philippines office partnered with the Supreme Court of the Philippines (SC) and the International Initiative for Impact Evaluation (3ie) to conduct a series of studies on the effect of judicial reforms on the efficiency of the lower trial courts. To comply with global and Philippine government safety guidelines during the COVID-19 pandemic, the research team adjusted the qualitative research approach to be fully remote. While it was necessary to do so during the pandemic, the study provides important lessons about remote qualitative interviews that will be relevant for future work. Remote video interviewing was successful enough that it be worthwhile even when in-person interviewing is possible, although group size may need to be limited compared to larger focus group. 
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Phone Survey Methods Resource
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January 25, 2021
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COVID-19 motivated a rapid shift to remote data collection. In addition to technical hurdles associated with computer-assisted telephone interviews (CATI), survey implementation may require more comprehensive productivity management to ensure that samples are representative and that calls are made during different times of the day and days of the week, to ensure that individuals are not systematically excluded based on the schedules they keep (e.g. farmers or night-shift workers). IPA Uganda conducted a random digit dialing (RDD) survey on financial fraud with a completely virtual phone bank and protocols that specified extended call hours to ensure that a wide variety of respondents could be reached. To monitor performance effectively, the team integrated daily call time monitoring into high-frequency checks of survey data using the IPA-developed sctotimeuse Stata command.
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Phone Survey Methods Resource
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January 25, 2021
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Virtual phone banks used to conduct surveys necessitate different surveyors contracts than standard face-to-face surveys. IPA Zambia modified contracts to ensure transparent and fair payment for surveyors as well as productivity-based incentives to increase productivity. Contracts include daily targets for attempted calls and completed interviews but are calculated on a weekly basis to help mitigate fluctuations in productivity associated with call attempt protocols and sampling variation.
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Phone Survey Methods Resource
Date:
January 25, 2021
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In a phone survey, asking individuals to give data on other members of their household is a useful way to collect data on larger numbers of people or on specific populations (such as married women or students), but it requires listing household members in a roster to determine who is being described. It is uncommon to include household rosters in phone surveys because respondents typically are not willing to spend as much time on the phone as they are in face-to-face interviews. In a recent project, IPA Colombia found that household rosters can be conducted in a short amount of time: an average of less than 3.5 minutes for households that averaged 4.1 members. This provided an opportunity to target questions to and/or about specific household members in order to create a richer, more comprehensive dataset. 
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Phone Survey Methods Resource
Date:
January 25, 2021
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There is a vast literature on how incentives affect response rates as well as response quality in cross-sectional (one point in time) and longitudinal surveys (repeated observations) in higher-income countries. However, there is more limited evidence around applicability to lower- and medium- income countries (LMICs). IPA Colombia tested how the effect of an increase in incentive size affects response rates, response quality, and response distributions. Consistent with prior research, they found no significant differences in response rates, item non-response, and no pattern of differences in responses when incentive amounts were increased.
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Phone Survey Methods Resource
Date:
January 25, 2021
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IPA Peru partnered with the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) and the Ministries of Education in Colombia, Costa Rica, El Salvador, and Peru to study the effects of COVID-19 on educational systems in Latin America. In Peru, IPA conducted 4,939 surveys representing 2.3 percent of total pre-school and kindergarten enrollment in the country using two recruitment modes: a phone survey and a self-administered survey recruited using WhatsApp. Surveys that target caregivers of school-age children were more likely to reach women (respondents who identified as female) than men, but the way in which sample members are recruited can have a big impact on how large a majority women make up. In this case, with WhatsApp we reached an even higher share of women (91 percent versus 9 percent men) than phone (72 percent women versus 28 percent men). WhatsApp respondents were also younger. The research team hypothesized that the recruitment mode and administrative list construction combined to produce...
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Phone Survey Methods Resource
Date:
January 25, 2021

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