Sports betting has emerged as one of the fastest growing forms of gambling, with new technologies facilitating its rapid spread into new markets in developing countries. What explains the persistent popularity of sports betting despite such a low rate of return from participation?

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In rural Bangladesh, women living in extreme poverty face barriers to engaging in work that provides higher returns, such as livestock rearing. Researchers partnered with BRAC to evaluate their multi-faceted livelihood program known as the Graduation Approach, which aims to encourage occupational change among these women.

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A cocoa farmer in Sierra Leone

The amount of competition between intermediaries in agricultural markets has a large role in determining prices but can be very hard to measure. Where formal financial institutions are absent, intermediary traders often serve as a substitute source of credit for farmers.

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The use of military forces for public security tasks has become a common approach to combat crime and insecurity. Advocates of these “mano dura” (iron fist) policies view them as necessary to control crime, while detractors claim they undermine human rights. In Cali, Colombia, researchers conducted a randomized evaluation of a military policing program called “Plan Fortaleza” to rigorously measure the impacts of military policing on crime rates and human rights.

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The Supreme Court of the Philippines has introduced several reforms to address the longstanding issues of high volume of pending cases and severe delays in case disposition, which consequently deny citizens the ability to access swift and fair justice. One of these reforms is an electronic case management (eCourt) system that records case information and allows courts and other judicial stakeholders to monitor case incidents in real time.

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The Supreme Court of the Philippines has introduced several reforms to address the longstanding issues of high volume of pending cases and severe delays in case disposition, which consequently deny citizens the ability to access swift and fair justice.

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The Supreme Court of the Philippines has introduced several reforms to address the longstanding issues of high volume of pending cases and severe delays in case disposition, which consequently deny citizens the ability to access swift and fair justice.

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Urban armed groups, especially criminal gangs, are a growing threat to peace and economic growth in cities across the world. These groups often exert state-like powers, enforcing contracts, policing, and taxing businesses in the areas they informally govern.

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Professional advancement often depends on subjective performance reviews, especially in developing countries where objective data on performance may not be available. But subjective reviews may be susceptible to personal biases based on characteristics like gender. To better understand this in the education sector in Ghana, researchers compared both principals’ reviews and teacher self-assessments of effectiveness to an objective measure:  increases in student test scores.

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How can community-oriented policing practices be implemented in a way that sustainably increases trust in the police and reduces crime in areas where state legitimacy is low? In the Philippines, researchers examined the effects of a community policing program on attitudes towards the police and public safety outcomes. The intervention combined community engagement with problem-oriented policing.

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Vocational education programs are a popular strategy aimed at improving labor market outcomes for youth, but there is mixed evidence about their actual benefits. Researchers evaluated the impact of admission to one of Mongolia’s formal vocational training programs on students’ educational attainment, employment, and earnings. Admission led to higher educational attainment and employment for applicants, especially for women, and increased earnings for women.

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Effective engagement with religious leaders to persuade them to encourage compliance with health measures could be critical in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic, especially since religious gatherings carry a high risk of infection.

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Lack of access to finance constraints small business growth—a problem that is exacerbated for Muslim business-owners, many of whom do not take out traditional loans for religious reasons. Innovations for Poverty Action supported research in Pakistan on a lease-based product that features more flexible repayment schedules, allows businesses to share risk with a large microfinance institution, and complies with local Islamic financial norms.

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Without special attention to creating economic opportunities for ex-combatants, they may be more likely to join rebellious groups, commit crime, and otherwise threaten political stability. In Liberia, researchers tested the effect of an intensive agricultural training program that also provided agricultural supplies and psychosocial counseling on employment activities, income, and socio-political integration.

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To meet their saving goals, farmers often rely on informal saving mechanisms and commitment devices. But how much do farmers value these saving services? In partnership with a local dairy cooperative, researchers utilized a combination of evaluations and surveys to measure dairy farmers’ responses to various price and timing incentives.

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The capacity of states to effectively allocate resources and serve the public good depends on the quantity and quality of information they have. This information is often collected through decentralized processes and requests to other public or private entities. But what happens when these entities do not respond? In Colombia, IPA worked with the Inspector Attorney General’s Office (PGN) to implement a low-cost strategy for collecting more and better information about transparency practices.

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Can redesigning pension statements increase the understanding of key facts related to the pension system and improve coverage? Researchers in Colombia partnered with Colpensiones, Colombia’s public pension fund administrator, to test the effect of redesigning pension statements on the beneficiaries' understanding of the information presented and the identification of potential errors in their statements.

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The civil war in Syria caused large-scale forced displacement, both within Syria and to neighboring countries. What factors determine whether Syrians return home? With support from IPA’s Peace & Recovery Program, researchers from the Immigration Policy Lab conducted a representative survey of over 3,000 Syrian refugees in Lebanon from August-October 2019 to learn about their return intentions.

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Displaced people and communities who have fled conflict depend heavily on external aid to meet their basic needs, but too little empirical evidence exists on the effectiveness of humanitarian assistance. To date, most humanitarian assistance has been provided in kind, but there has been a trend in the past 10 to 20 years towards the use of cash-based modalities such as vouchers, e-transfers, and direct cash transfers.

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In Myanmar, land disputes are common as many citizens lack formal documentation to prove their land ownership, and refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs) are unable to demonstrate continuous occupancy of their land. To identify effective ways to address this issue, researchers conducted a pilot evaluation of a community-based dispute resolution (CBDR) program, testing the feasibility of implementing the intervention at a larger scale.

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