Community-based approaches to development, also called community-driven development (CDD), seek to empower local communities to identify and implement the projects they most need. Researchers in this study in the Philippines are evaluating the impact of a national community-driven development program on governance, social capital, and socio-economic welfare.

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Forcibly displaced people often live in overcrowded camps in countries with struggling health systems, making this population highly vulnerable to COVID‐19. In the Cox’s Bazar district of Bangladesh, where large numbers of Rohingya refugees have settled in recent years after fleeing Myanmar, researchers worked with IPA to administer a phone-based survey to households in both refugee camps and nearby host communities.

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Saving for the future tends to be particularly challenging in developing country contexts, where many people lack access to formal saving tools. Researchers partnered with a tea company in Malawi to study the effects of a savings product that allowed workers to defer payment of a part of their wages. The deferred wages program was generally popular and increased savings; in the longer run, it helped workers improve their houses.

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People often report wanting to save more money than they actually do, and rigorous evidence has shown that simple reminders to save can be effective at helping people save more. Researchers working with IPA carried out evaluations in Ghana, Peru, the Philippines, and the Dominican Republic to build the evidence base about text-message reminders to save.

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People often report wanting to save more money than they actually do, and rigorous evidence has shown that simple reminders to save can be effective at helping people save more. Researchers working with IPA carried out evaluations in Ghana, Peru, the Philippines, and the Dominican Republic to build the evidence base about text-message reminders to save. In Ghana, the research team worked with Fidelity Bank to evaluate the impact of behaviorally targeted text messages on savings behavior.

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Many countries have struggled to respond to the Syrian refugee crisis in a way that provides for refugees’ human needs and ensures cohesive integration into host communities. Though many policies and programs focus on immediate aid and short-term goals, individual refugee recovery and the stability of host communities is best observed on a longer time horizon.

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People often report wanting to save more money than they actually do, and rigorous evidence has shown that simple reminders to save can be effective at helping people save more. Researchers working with IPA carried out evaluations in Ghana, Peru, the Philippines, and the Dominican Republic to build the evidence base about text-message reminders to save. In the Philippines, the research team worked with BanKO to evaluate the impact of behaviorally targeted text messages on savings behavior.

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Digitizing government cash transfers may boost usage of formal financial services among vulnerable households and women’s economic empowerment, but poor delivery of these digital transfers could increase the risks that beneficiaries face.

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Globally, irregular migration and human trafficking have reached crisis proportions in fragile and conflict-affected states. In Nigeria, the combination of ongoing, low-intensity conflict, a large youth population, and limited economic opportunities has led to high levels of irregular migrants seeking to make the dangerous journey to Europe. There is little evidence on how individuals weigh the risks and benefits of migration, and how information campaigns influence decisions to migrate.

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Household food security, defined as stable access to sufficient and nutritious food, is critical in the early years to meet a child’s developmental needs.

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Recent evidence has pointed to the importance of socio-emotional skills development for improving business outcomes and for helping to close the gender gap between male- and female-owned small businesses.

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As the largest host country for Syrian refugees, Turkey has developed many policies to facilitate integration of refugees into host communities. Yet, Syrian refugee children still face social exclusion and violence at school. Researchers are introducing a program that teaches students perspective-taking to evaluate the impact of the curriculum on students’ social behavior.

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Recent studies have shown that a psychology-based entrepreneurial mindset training can have promising effects on business outcomes, but there is little evidence on how to improve the financial sustainability of these programs. Researchers are evaluating the effects of an entrepreneurial mindset training paired with business training on firm outcomes for female entrepreneurs in Mexico.

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During the last few decades, there has been an increase in the number of children raised by their grandparents in the Northern Triangle in Central America—Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador—in response to family crises, poverty, disease epidemics, and migration. Many of these children are facing emotional and behavioral problems, complete fewer years of schooling, and have more problems related to school and learning.

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Fragile and conflict-affected states with weak government presence offer a fertile ground for armed and terrorist organizations to impose their own governing structures.  In these settings, it remains unclear whether economic or personal motivations are larger drivers of individual participation in violent groups.

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The government of Sierra Leone’s post-Ebola health system strengthening efforts have been compromised by a lack of accurate data on the services that are provided and how often. Researchers measured the accuracy of health records in clinics by comparing actual immunizations given to children to administrative clinic records.

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Recent studies have shown that a psychology-based entrepreneurial mindset training can have promising effects on business outcomes. In Ecuador, researchers are evaluating whether these skills can be taught at scale and online by testing the effects of an entrepreneurial mindset training program on youth education and employment outcomes. They are also investigating if and how the effects change when the program is paired with mentoring.   

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Public-private partnerships to provide education in low-income countries are common, yet controversial. In Liberia, researchers worked with IPA, the Ministry of Education, and a set of eight private operators to conduct a randomized evaluation that measured the impact of 93 partnership schools—free public schools with management outsourced to private operators.

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Cox's Bazar intervention

Despite the scale and persistence of forced displacement, little data and evidence exists to inform long-term policy responses. The arrival of hundreds of thousands of refugees in southern Bangladesh beginning in August 2017 poses a significant policy question: how to integrate refugees into the host economy while simultaneously maintaining or improving the wellbeing of nationals.

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A Ugandan youth working on a bicycle
In developing countries with high unemployment, cash grants can provide poor people with the capital to invest in small enterprises. If people are not too constrained in their ability to earn and save, grants will simply offer a kick start to higher work and income levels, levels they would have some years later even without the grants. If it is difficult to save or accumulate assets, however, one-time investments could propel people out of poverty permanently. Which is it?
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