Payday loans—small short-term loans with high interest rates that become due at the time of the borrower’s next paycheck—are a common form of lending to people with low incomes in the United States. Do borrowers taking out these loans make rational decisions, or do they borrow more than they expect or would like to in the long run?

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In recent years, education systems in Latin America have significantly increased coverage for children in primary school. However, challenges related to early childhood education remain. In Uruguay, student absenteeism at preschool is high in comparison to primary school, and this may be due in part to parents undervaluing preschool education.

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Early educational experiences have been found to have a positive effect on students’ choice of math and science courses in later learning as well as their career aspirations. In Colombia, researchers are conducting a randomized evaluation to test the impact of an interactive multimedia preschool program on the math and science skills of children and the gender and racial stereotypes and beliefs of children, educators, and parents.

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Exposure to violence in childhood and adolescence is associated with adverse health and socio-economic outcomes. School is one of the most common settings where children and adolescents may experience violence; and in some countries, school staff may be one of the most common perpetrators of violence against children. Levels of violence may be higher in humanitarian settings, where people are displaced and teachers and children may have recent histories of trauma.

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In Uganda, rural households face challenges in ensuring that children attend school due to high school fees and a mismatch in the timing of when fees are due and when income is earned. Researchers are evaluating the impact of a digital school fee loan, with and without a direct repayment incentive, on repayment rates, households’ well-being, and students’ educational outcomes.

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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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In countries with conditional cash transfer programs, volunteers or modestly-paid community workers often play a significant role in supporting beneficiaries in complying with the program requirements upon which their cash transfers are conditioned.

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Globally, violence is a leading risk factor for premature death and morbidity for women. In Uganda, more than half of women have experienced physical and/or sexual violence by an intimate partner at least once in their lifetime. A small but growing body of literature focuses on addressing intimate partner violence (IPV) by leveraging existing social institutions, but few studies have looked at faith-based sources of authority.

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Women across the world face systemic challenges to their health and safety, including intimate partner violence, sexual violence, forced marriage, and disempowerment within the household. One potential way to counter these issues is through media messaging that is designed to change people’s attitudes and behavior.

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Expanding credit access to small- and medium-sized agricultural producers is an important policy challenge, given the millions of livelihoods affected along its supply chain. Researchers used data on loans to coffee processors across 24 developing countries to study credit and insurance constraints in the coffee sector and assessed whether relationships between lenders and coffee mills could mitigate strategic default.

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Measuring Knowledge and Understanding of the Peace Process in Myanmar

A key step toward designing an inclusive peace process is understanding the knowledge, perceptions, and expectations of the people involved. With this in mind, the Joint Peace Fund, an initiative that supports the peace process in Myanmar with technical, financial, and advisory assistance, is working with IPA and Myanmar Survey Research to gather quantitative and qualitative data on public knowledge and understanding of Myanmar’s peace process.

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The garment industry has expanded women’s employment opportunities in the urban job market in Bangladesh. However, jobs available to women at factories are typically limited to junior positions. This study evaluates the effectiveness of a program that provides female garment workers with skills that lead to promotion to supervisory positions.

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Low-income women disproportionately lack access to credit in developing countries, often because they are less likely to have credit histories, property rights, or formal earnings. Researchers are partnering with a bank and a mobile money operator in the Dominican Republic to evaluate the impact of credit scoring models designed specifically for women on access to credit.

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