We use a field experiment to show referral-based hiring has the potential to disadvantage qualified women, highlighting another potential channel behind gender disparities in the labor market. Through a recruitment drive for a firm in Malawi, we look at men's and women's referral choices under different incentives and constraints. We find that men systematically refer few women, despite being able to refer qualified women when explicitly asked for female candidates. Performance pay also did not alter men's tendencies to refer men. Additionally, women did not refer enough high quality women to offset men's behavior.
Country:
Type:
Published Paper
Date:
November 07, 2017
Many patients in low-income countries express preferences for high-quality health care but often end up with low-quality providers. We conducted a randomized controlled trial with pregnant women in Nairobi, Kenya, to analyze whether cash transfers, enhanced with behavioral “nudges,” can help women deliver in facilities that are consistent with their preferences and are of higher quality. We tested two interventions. The first was a labeled cash transfer (LCT), which explained that the cash was to help women deliver where they wanted. The second was a cash transfer that combined labeling and a commitment by the recipient to deliver in a prespecified desired facility as a condition of receiving the final payment (L-CCT). The L-CCT improved patient-perceived quality of interpersonal care but not perceived technical quality of care. It also increased women’s likelihood of delivering in facilities that met standards for routine and emergency newborn care but not the likelihood of delivering...
Country:
Program area:
Type:
Published Paper
Date:
November 01, 2017
Download
Bank accounts can provide a secure way for low-income households to build their assets to make large investments or protect themselves against unforeseen expenses. Yet many poor households don’t use formal financial services. In the Dominican Republic, Banco Unión delivers remittances to approximately 400,000 clients who do not have a formal bank account. The bank also created two savings products tailored to the needs of these clients. In partnership with the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) and Innovations for Poverty Action (IPA), Banco Unión developed SMS message campaigns to try to boost account uptake and usage among its remittance-receiving clientele. Two randomized evaluations found that the messaging campaigns did not increase clients’ use of formal bank accounts, and may have in fact discouraged account holders’ engagement with Banco Unión, as observed through decreased deposit and withdrawal activity and slightly lower balances by the end of the campaigns. There are sev...
Program area:
Type:
Report
Date:
November 01, 2017
This paper studies the impact on well-being and business outcomes from teaching stress-management practices to small firm owners in Bangladesh. Female owners were randomly assigned either to a treatment group that received a 10-week Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) course featuring priority-setting and relaxation techniques, or to a control group exposed to Empathic Listening. CBT leads to large initial reductions in owner stress, but no initial increase in firm profits. Six months after receiving CBT, owners in sectors with a low concentration of women show large and significant effects on stress, and their firms show increased profits. By contrast, owners in female-dominated sectors experience a short-lived reduction in stress, and firms show no changes in profits. The large post-treatment differences in well-being and profits between industries suggest that the ability to manage stress is malleable, and that industry choice proxies for traits that are strongly correlated with retu...
Country:
Type:
Working Paper
Date:
October 31, 2017
English
IPA stands at the forefront of a movement to build rigorous evidence and ensure it is used to improve the lives of people living in poverty. In 2016, we started 75 new studies and continued our efforts to share research findings and grow our visibility through 70 events across the world. Browse an online version of the report here: annualreport.poverty-action.org
Type:
Annual Report
Date:
October 25, 2017
Download
Educators and policymakers want to strengthen teacher preparation in order to improve student learning, but evidence is lacking about what makes training most effective, especially in early childhood education. Researchers evaluated a pre-service mentoring and training program for student teachers of kindergarten in Ghana’s Western region.  Preliminary Key Findings »  The training program significantly improved student teachers’ implementation of the curriculum and knowledge of early childhood education and development. »  The program’s impacts on teachers’ professional well-being were mixed: FTTT teachers had higher levels of motivation and feelings of personal accomplishment, but lower levels of job satisfaction when placed as full-time teachers. »  One year after being placed as full-time teachers, these improvements had not translated into improved child learning or development outcomes. »  An additional four-day head teacher sensitization training did not have any impacts on teach...
Country:
Program area:
Type:
Brief
Date:
October 23, 2017
English
Large and regular seasonal price fluctuations in local grain markets appear to offer African farmers substantial inter-temporal arbitrage opportunities, but these opportunities remain largely unexploited: small-scale farmers are commonly observed to “sell low and buy high” rather than the reverse. In a field experiment in Kenya, we show that credit market imperfections limit farmers’ abilities to move grain inter-temporally. Providing timely access to credit allows farmers to purchase at lower prices and sell at higher prices, increasing farm profits and generating a return on investment of 28%. To understand general equilibrium effects of these changes in behavior, we vary the density of loan offers across locations. We document significant effects of the credit intervention on seasonal price fluctuations in local grain markets, and show that these GE effects greatly affect our individual level profitability estimates. We also find suggestive evidence that these GE effects generate be...
Country:
Program area:
Type:
Working Paper
Date:
October 12, 2017
In this chapter, we report a field experiment in Burkina Faso, which aimed to isolate the effects of information content from other channels of influence through which an information intervention could affect voting behavior. The experiment was carried out in 38 rural municipalities, prior to the 2016 municipal elections. These 38 municipalities had been controlled by the same party for the past two electoral cycles, since the first nationwide municipal elections in 2006. In our experiment, we presented 741 randomly selected study participants with detailed information about their previous municipal government’s performance along nine indicators of municipal service quality in the areas of health, primary education, water access, and civil services. These indicators reflected national standards for municipal services, i.e. widely accepted service delivery targets. Simultaneously, a control group of 752 study participants was presented merely with information about the indicators of mun...
Country:
Program area:
Type:
Working Paper
Date:
October 04, 2017
Can programmatic extensions such as training and mentorship enhance the economic impact of cash transfers, or do they needlessly absorb resources that program recipients could allocate more meaningfully by themselves? Using a randomized trial, we evaluate a program that targets poor Ugandans and offers them an integrated package comprised of lump sum transfers, coaching, and training on microenterprise development as well as savings group formation. We assess its impact and that of its savings component, as well as the impacts of much simplified program variants: one intervention variant that is limited to lump sum cash transfers and another that expands upon transfers using a light-touch behavioral intervention component. The results support the notion that integrated development interventions are sensible poverty reduction tools.
Country:
Program area:
Type:
Working Paper
Date:
September 26, 2017
Download
Standard business training programs aim to boost the incomes of the millions of self-employed business owners in developing countries by teaching basic financial and marketing practices, yet the impacts of such programs are mixed. We test whether a psychology-based personal initiative training approach which teaches and promotes a proactive mindset that focuses on entrepreneurial behaviors can have more success. A randomized controlled trial in Togo assigned microenterprise owners to a control group (N=500); a leading business training program (N=500); or to personal initiative training (N=500). Four follow-up surveys track firm outcomes over two years and show personal initiative training increases firm profits by 30 percent, compared to a statistically insignificant 11 percent for traditional training. The training is cost-effective, paying for itself within one year.
Type:
Published Paper
Date:
September 22, 2017
Past research suggests that improving citizen political knowledge and coordination can increase political participation and accountability and help channel grievances through democratic processes rather than conflict. A randomized field experiment in Peru demonstrates that civic education can sometimes have perverse effects on these outcomes. I find that civic education workshops reduce participation in the district’s “participatory budgeting” process and increase support for protest as a tool for sanctioning politicians. Although the intervention increases the initiation of recalls for poor-performing mayors, these mayors respond to the recall threat by further reducing their effort. Taken together the evidence suggests that improved information and coordination of local elites is not sufficient to improve government performance where it has previous lagged. 
Authors:
Country:
Program area:
Type:
Working Paper
Date:
September 15, 2017
Download
“Partnership Schools” are free, public schools managed by private operators. After one year, public schools managed by private operators raised student learning by 60 percent compared to standard public schools. But costs were high, performance varied across operators, and contracts authorized the largest operator to push excess pupils and under-performing teachers into other government schools. Read the full paper here.
Country:
Program area:
Type:
Brief
Date:
September 07, 2017
Paper
After one year, public schools managed by private contractors in Liberia raised student learning by 60 percent, compared to standard public schools. But costs were high, performance varied across contractors, and contracts authorized the largest contractor to push excess pupils and underperforming teachers onto other government schools. (Download the full paper at the right, and online appendix from lower button).
Country:
Program area:
Date:
September 07, 2017
Download
Improving learning among low-achieving students is a challenge in education. We present results from the first randomized experiment of an inquiry-based remedial science education program for low-performing elementary students in a developing-country setting. Third-grade students in 48 low-income public elementary schools in Metropolitan Lima who score at the bottom half of their school distribution in a science test taken at the beginning of the school year are randomly assigned to receive up to 16 remedial science tutoring sessions of 90 minutes each. Control group compliance with assignment is close to perfect. Treatment group compliance is 40 percent, equivalent to 4.5 tutoring sessions, or a 4 percent increase in total science instruction time. Despite the low treatment intensity, students assigned to the remedial sessions score 0.12 standard deviations higher on a science endline test, with all gains concentrated among boys. We find no evidence of remedial education producing wit...
Country:
Program area:
Type:
Working Paper
Date:
September 01, 2017
Background: Despite the continued high prevalence of faltering growth, height monitoring remains limited in many low- and middle-income countries.Objective: The objective of this study was to test whether providing parents with information on their child’s height can improve children’s height and developmental outcomes.Design: Villages in Chipata District, Zambia (n = 127), were randomly assigned with equal probability to 1 of 3 groups: home- based growth monitoring (HBGM), community-based growth monitoring including nutritional supplementation for children with stunted growth (CBGM+NS), and control. Primary study outcomes were individual height-for-age z score (HAZ) and overall child development assessed with the International Fetal and Newborn Growth Consortium for the 21st Century Neurodevelopment Assessment tool. Secondary outcomes were weight-for-age z score (WAZ), protein consumption, breastfeeding, and general dietary diversity. Results: We enrolled a total of 547 children with...
Country:
Program area:
Date:
August 23, 2017
Download
IPA Zambia is pleased to share its second quarter bulletin of 2017. This bulletin features updates on our research projects on improving public services by improving staff allocation; trust, spontaneous clusters, and the growth of urban small- and medium-sized enterprises; and interpersonal communication to encourage use of the Maximum Diva Woman's Condom. This bulletin also highlights IPA Zambia's presentation of preliminary results from the Girls Negotiation study in early May.
Country:
Type:
Brief
Date:
August 22, 2017
English
In Uganda, preliminary findings suggest watching video interviews of parliamentary candidates during party primary and multiparty elections increases knowledge about the candidates and increases the likelihood that voters change away from their intended vote choice on Election Day.
Country:
Program area:
Type:
Brief
Date:
August 07, 2017
English
In lower- and middle-income countries, including Ghana, students in rural areas dramatically underperform their urban peers. Rural schools struggle to attract and retain professionally trained teachers (GES 2012; World Bank 2012). We explore one potential solution to the problem of teacher recruitment: distance instruction. Through a cluster randomized controlled trial, we estimate the impact of a program that broadcasts live instruction via satellite to rural primary school students. The program equipped classrooms in 70 randomly selected Ghanaian schools with the technology required to connect to a studio in Accra. An additional 77 schools served as the control. Instructors in Accra provided math and English lessons to classrooms in the treatment group. The model is interactive, and students in satellite classes could communicate in real time with their remote teachers. We estimate significant gains (p<.05) in rural students’ numeracy and foundational literacy skills. We find no i...
Country:
Program area:
Type:
Working Paper
Date:
August 01, 2017
Download
Background: Rigorous evaluations of health sector interventions addressing intimate partner violence (IPV) in low- and middle-income countries are lacking. We aimed to assess whether an enhanced nurse-delivered intervention would reduce IPV and improve levels of safety planning behaviors, use of community resources, reproductive coercion, and mental quality of life. Methods: We randomized 42 public health clinics in Mexico City to treatment or control arms. In treatment clinics, women received the nurse-delivered session (IPV screening, supportive referrals, health/safety risk assessments) at baseline (T1), and a booster counselling session after 3 months (T2). In control clinics, women received screening and a referral card from nurses. Surveys were conducted at T1, T2, and T3 (15 months from baseline). Our main outcome was past-year physical and sexual IPV. Intent-to-treat analyses were conducted via three-level random intercepts models to evaluate the interaction term for treatment...
Country:
Program area:
Type:
Published Paper
Date:
July 12, 2017
English
While young adults in many contexts struggle to develop a positive identity or skills such as self-control, those who grow up in low-income or violent settings may have more at stake and receive less support. Cognitive behavioral therapy, an intervention traditionally used to treat mental health disorders like depression, is a promising option for policymakers seeking low-cost solutions to crime and violence.
Program area:
Type:
Brief
Date:
June 22, 2017

Pages