Rainfall index insurance can help small-holder farmers cope with risks to their livelihoods, but take-up of this insurance is often low.

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In order to manage the delivery of social services, central governments often delegate authority to local supervisors. Despite possibly having greater knowledge of the local context, these supervisors may still be unable to fully monitor the performance of public workers. Researchers partnered with the Government of Paraguay to measure the impact of a new monitoring technology—GPS-enabled cell phones—on the job performance of agricultural extension agents (AEAs).

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Previous research has shown that people living in poverty are more likely to experience psychological constraints, such as lower aspirations, goals, and beliefs about their ability to act effectively, which partly arise from the difficulties of living in extreme poverty.

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Engaging parents in their children’s education via text messages has been shown to be effective at increasing children’s attendance in school and improving grades in Brazil, but it’s unclear whether this model could be adapted to poorer countries where teacher absenteeism is high and many parents are illiterate. This randomized evaluation tests two versions of this model, using text and audio messages for parents either with or without messages to teachers in Côte d‘Ivoire.

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Evidence suggests that pay-for-performance (P4P) contracts can elicit greater effort from civil servants when designed well, but does advertising performance pay affect who applies for these public sector jobs?

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Vote-buying remains a major impediment to full democracy in many low-income countries. Researchers conducted a randomized evaluation to study how a large-scale campaign against vote-buying affected not only citizens’ willingness to sell their votes but also politician and party behavior in the 2016 election in Uganda.  

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Globally, many rural farmers lack access to effective savings and storage devices. This issue is particularly acute for rural farmers who receive income as a lump sum at harvest but have ongoing expenditures throughout the year. Researchers worked with existing savings clubs in Kenya to study the effect of two interventions on savings: the provision of communal crop storage devices and the provision of savings accounts earmarked for farm purchases.

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Educate!

In sub-Saharan Africa, where youth unemployment rates are very high, teaching students the skills required to be successful entrepreneurs or to compete in the formal labor market has the potential to reduce youth unemployment, drive economic growth, and reduce poverty. Whether such skills – particularly soft skills – can be taught, however, is an open question. In Uganda, researchers partnered with Educate!

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In Sub-Saharan Africa, wage job opportunities are limited, and a vast majority of young people are engaged in low-productive work. Many governments support formal apprenticeship programs to help youth find suitable employment, but there is limited evidence on the direct and indirect effects of these public interventions.

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Improving education quality in low-income countries is a top priority for the global human development agenda, with governments and donors spending over a hundred billion dollars annually on education. Researchers evaluated the impact of providing schools with an unconditional cash grant, a teacher incentive program, or both on student learning. The cash grant had no impact on student learning, while the teacher incentive program had mixed results.

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Remittances are one of the largest sources of financial flows to low- and middle-income countries, and researchers and decision-makers are interested in ways to increase their development impact. One promising approach is enabling migrants to label the remittances that they send home for a specific purpose, such as education or business activities.

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In Ghana, many traditional credit providers like banks and microfinance institutions are wary of extending credit to small-scale farmers, fearful that they will inherit the risks inherent to farming; with limited access to traditional, formal credit, many farmers must rely on costly, informal loans. Researchers are evaluating the impact of an innovative mobile phone-based digital finance program on loan repayment rates, investment decisions, savings, and use of other financial services, as we

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In 2016, Myanmar started a new land reform intended to improve the land tenure rights of their lower income citizens. Acknowledging the importance of evidence to support the land reform, the research and advocacy organization Landesa partnered with IPA to conduct a mixed methods study to better understand the extent of landlessness in the Ayeyarwady Region, the connection between land tenure rights and food security, as well as the extent of women and men’s knowledge of their land rights.

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Many Americans have accumulated staggering debt loads, limiting their ability to achieve financial stability. While some nonprofit and financial institutions have programs designed to help borrowers repay and reduce debt with personalized debt management plans, many people drop out of these programs in the first year.

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Many poor women around the world rely on sexual partners for the purpose of financial assistance, particularly when faced with financial setbacks. Providing these women with appropriate financial tools has the potential to reduce transactional sex as a coping strategy and reduce exposure to sexually transmitted infections.

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As conflict forcibly displaces millions of people, social ties and trust across groups can disintegrate and be difficult to rebuild after violence subsides. Researchers are partnering with the Nineveh Provincial Council and MaakThahTheh to evaluate the impact of mixed Christian-Muslim soccer teams on social cohesion and interactions between Christians and Muslims in an ISIS-affected area of Iraq.

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Youth unemployment and underemployment are pressing policy challenges in Sub-Saharan Africa and job-training programs have not proven to be effective (or cost-effective) at improving youth labor market outcomes. In Ghana, researchers conducted a randomized evaluation to estimate the impact of a government program that placed young people in traditional apprenticeships and matched them with training providers.

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Access to electricity can bring significant economic benefits to communities, but in many rural areas extending the electrical grid can be costly, difficult, and unreliable. Decentralized, “off-grid” energy systems such as solar mini-grids may be another effective way to provide energy to communities that do not have access to an electrical grid, but less is known about their impacts, particularly for women.

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As in many developing countries, in Sierra Leone the process of selecting candidates often caters to the elite and lacks direct input from ordinary voters, which raises questions about representation and accountability. In response, researchers designed an evaluation to measure the efficacy of an intervention that informs party executives about the qualifications and policy visions of “aspirants," or potential candidates, during the primary selection stage, as well as which aspirant the local

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Many farming households in sub-Saharan Africa lack access to formal credit and struggle to make ends meet between harvests. In a previous evaluation, researchers found that increasing access to credit during the hungry season helped farming households in rural Zambia allocate labor more efficiently, leading to improvements in productivity and well-being.

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