The growth of digital financial services has been accompanied by an increase in digital fraud. This raises certain questions: How can consumers effectively raise concerns and seek help? Can analyzing social media posts and customer support artificial conversations (chatbots) provide greater insight into consumers’ experiences and ways to prevent fraud?
Illegal mining is prominent throughout the world but is rarely reported to authorities responsible for monitoring mining activities. In Colombia, Colombia Mining Monitoring (CoMiMo1) uses artificial intelligence and satellite technology to locate possible illegal mines. Researchers disclosed the mines’ locations to local and national authorities to measure their response and determine whether this information reduces or relocates the presence of illegal mines.
High fees and lack of pricing transparency may be a barrier to accessing financial services, especially for low-income and rural populations. In Nigeria, where access to financial services is lower than in neighboring countries, the Central Bank issued regulations to limit customer fees. However, anecdotal evidence suggests these regulations are not always followed.
Small and medium enterprises (SMEs) represent an important source of employment in many low- and middle-income countries. Therefore, finding the most effective measures to help SMEs respond and recover when faced with economic crises, like those triggered by COVID-19, is of high policy relevance.
Democracy in many developing countries is undermined by the widespread provision of cash or goods for votes (i.e., vote buying). During the 2016 Ugandan elections, researchers conducted a randomized evaluation of an anti-vote-buying campaign to study voter behavior and electoral outcomes. While the campaign did not reduce the extent of vote buying, it had substantial effects on electoral outcomes.
Stunting negatively affects the health, development, and future incomes of affected children as well as that of their countries. Stunting remains a major problem in Zambia. In 2018, 35 percent of children under age 5 were stunted nationwide, with much higher rates in some regions.
Money sent home by migrants working abroad is an important source of income, particularly in low and middle-income countries. How do pandemic closures and restrictions affect migrants' remittances? Researchers built on a previous study to conduct two rounds of phone surveys between Filipino migrants in the UAE and their families in the Philippines.
How can communities be encouraged to accept former members of violent extremist groups who demobilize from conflict and begin the process of reintegration? Working in communities affected by Boko Haram in northeastern Nigeria, researchers examined whether messages from religious leaders—widely trusted in the region—could influence attitudes and intended behaviors, as well as shift perceived social norms, related to community support for the reintegration of former Boko Haram members.
In low-income countries, the unmet need for family planning contributes to high rates of maternal and infant mortality. In Kenya, there are nearly 500 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births and 37 infant deaths for every 1,000 live births. Despite the critical role of family planning service providers, many providers engage in negative behaviors that inhibit family planning use. Poor accountability may enable these negative behaviors.
In recent years, the prevalence of predatory or fraudulent finance-related mobile applications has increased as mobile access and finance technology providers expand. Many consumers have fallen victim to such apps, in particular after the onset of COVID-19, which drove an increase in usage of digital financial services.
Improving the productivity and export competitiveness of small and medium enterprises (SME) is a common path governments take to promote economic development. In Colombia, researchers are conducting a randomized evaluation to test whether improving management practices leads companies to export more, diversify what they are exporting and where they are exporting, and increase export productivity in the context of the “Colombia Productiva” program.
How can we improve students' educational achievement? Can radio instruction successfully support distance learning? In rural Peru, researchers implemented a randomized evaluation to measure the impact of an interactive radio instruction program aiming to increase the mathematics skills of preschoolers. The preliminary results show the program had a positive impact on math and oral comprehension skills, and on parental investment. More results forthcoming.
In the wake of Covid-19, countries around the world have experienced an increase in reported cases of intimate partner violence (IPV). In partnership with the Ministry of Women and Vulnerable Populations of Peru, researchers are evaluating a text-based campaign designed to help men regulate their emotions and reduce perpetration of IPV.
Can public health interventions help ameliorate the negative effects of disasters? How do disasters affect individual decision-making about important health behaviors? In Mozambique, researchers are leveraging an ongoing randomized evaluation to examine whether a community-level HIV/AIDS program with risk-coping components, such as Village Savings and Loan groups, helps people cope with the aftermath of Cyclone Idai and reduce disaster-induced deterioration of health decision-making.
Over a billion people worldwide, most of whom live in sub-Saharan Africa, lack electricity, and mainly rely on kerosene lanterns for light. Recently, prices for solar lanterns have been dropping and they may help supply clean, affordable lighting and phone charging to those who are not connected to the electric grid. Yet little rigorous evidence is available on how this new technology is being adopted and used and how it affects people’s lives.
Deforestation is the second largest human source of carbon dioxide emissions. Mexico has a "payments for ecosystem services" (PES) program to provide economic incentives to landowners to minimize deforestation, but budget cuts have been recurring over the past years. Researchers are conducting a pilot study in one municipality of Selva Lacandona (Chiapas) to find ways to improve the cost-effectiveness of the program.
Online job search platforms are increasingly common. However, there are still open questions on how to best design these platforms to improve job matching and employment. Researchers in Bangladesh partnered with a large online job search platform to evaluate the impact of increasing application time costs on applicant quality and employee retention.
Stunted growth in childhood can have long-term effects on cognitive development, school achievement, economic productivity in adulthood, among others. Addressing this in the early years has proved to be the best way to combat undernutrition, but families often lack adequate information about good feeding practices.
One way that farmers can improve their income and livelihoods is to transition from subsistence farming to market-driven, commercial agriculture in which output is sold into value chains. However, smallholder farmers typically do not sell their output to buyers in value chains, and one of the reasons is because their output often does not meet the required quality standards.