An IPA surveyor interviews a microfinance borrower in the Philippines

Although the success of microcredit was originally attributed to the group loan model, there is little evidence on the relative impacts of individual lending versus group lending on household consumption, income, and enterprise creation. In this study, researchers randomly selected existing group-lending centers to convert to an individual liability model.

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An industrial cotton processing factory in Ethiopia

Industrial sector development is seen as an important poverty alleviation strategy for reducing un- and underemployment in low-income countries. But how those jobs affect workers, particularly in early stages of industrial sector development, and the extent to which workers prefer these jobs over others is less well-understood.

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Incentive (or performance-based) pay has been shown to increase worker productivity in high-income countries, yet it is uncommon in developing countries and little evidence exists on the impacts of individual- and group-level incentives in these contexts. Cultural norms, such as the desire to stand out or get ahead, may influence how people respond to incentives.

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Female entrepreneurs in developing countries often face significant stress from the combination of long working hours, family responsibilities and barriers to work that requires being away from home1,2. This randomized evaluation studied whether targeting women’s ability to cope with such daily stresses could help improve well-being and business outcomes.

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A sugar cane farm in Kenya

Farming is risky: a drought, bad harvest, or dip in crop prices can leave small farmers in developing countries without much-needed income. Attempts to mitigate these risks with agricultural insurance have typically been unsuccessful because farmers have chosen not to buy insurance. Researchers partnered with a large sugar cane company to see if delaying the premium payment until after the harvest would increase farmers’ demand for insurance.

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For new democracies and societies emerging from conflict, effective systems of dispute resolution are essential to maintaining a lasting peace and preventing violence. In Liberia, researchers examined the impact of introducing alternative dispute resolution (ADR) trainings on the rate at which community members resolved property disputes, the level of satisfaction with the resolution, and the incidence of violence related to the disputes.

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Uganda land

Curbing deforestation in developing countries may be a cost-effective way to reduce carbon emissions and address climate change. Innovations for Poverty Action worked with researchers to evaluate the effectiveness of a payments for ecosystem services (PES) program, in which Ugandan landowners were paid not to cut forest trees on their property.

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Seasonal hunger affects 300 million of the world’s rural poor. Seasonal migration can help some people find temporary employment, but many of those who could potentially benefit from migration face financial constraints that prevent them from traveling during the lean season. Researchers investigated whether providing low-cost travel incentives increases migration, and whether migrants experience better food security as a result of their travel.

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Advances in payments technology have the potential to improve the efficiency of slow and corrupt public welfare programs. Researchers tested how Smartcards, which coupled electronic transfers with biometric authentication, affected the functioning of two government welfare schemes in India. They found that even though the new Smartcard system was not fully implemented, it resulted in a faster and less corrupt payments process without adversely affecting program access.

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Intensified use of agricultural inputs, particularly fertilizer, is a possible route to improved agricultural productivity. Evaluations of fertilizer use show substantial increases in yields, but they are typically done on highly monitored experimental plots rather than by farmers themselves.

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Malawi’s public works program is the largest social protection scheme in one of the world’s poorest countries. Although public works programs are widespread, they can be costly, and there is limited evidence of their effectiveness. Researchers worked with Innovations for Poverty Action and the Malawi Social Action Fund to evaluate the program’s effect on food security.

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Police forces in cities tend to focus their efforts on the highest-crime areas, but increasing state presence in the highest crime spots may simply displace crime to other areas, leaving overall crime levels unchanged. In Bogotá, Colombia, researchers partnered with the city to measure the impact of either concentrated policing, increased municipal clean-ups, or both on crime reduction and displacement.

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Savings on a Mobile Money Platform in Afghanistan

Behavioral research suggests that self-control, procrastination, attention, and other behavioral factors may limit individuals’ ability to save for the long-term. New mobile money platforms in many developing countries are creating financial products that can help low- and moderate-income individuals overcome these barriers.

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SMS messages are used to improve grils' knowledge of reproductive health In Ghana

Improving adolescents’ access to information about safe sex practices is crucial for safeguarding the health of future generations. In Ghana, Innovations for Poverty Action and researchers evaluated the impact of a program that provided young women with information on reproductive health via text messages. The study found that the program improved young women’s knowledge about contraception, sexually transmitted infections, and other reproductive health topics.

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A rural community gathers in Sierra Leone

Truth and reconciliation programs have become a common approach for rebuilding social ties and promoting healing among communities in the aftermath of war, but little is known about these programs’ effectiveness. In Sierra Leone, researchers partnered with the local NGO Fambul Tok to evaluate the impact of a community-based reconciliation program.

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Researchers in Côte d’Ivoire evaluate an economic empowerment and gender dialogue program on domestic violence

Intimate partner violence is a pervasive health and human rights concern, but relatively little is known about how to reduce gender-based violence in conflict-affected settings. In Côte d’Ivoire, researchers evaluated the impact of an economic empowerment and gender dialogue program on domestic violence and gender norms.

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IPA researchers investigate the impact of subsidies and healthworker visits on healthcare use in Mali

Reducing child mortality is a high priority for many governments, but policymakers disagree about how to fund children’s healthcare. While charging fees may prevent poor families from accessing care, subsidizing care may lead to overuse and wasted resources. Innovations for Poverty Action worked with researchers to investigate the impact of subsidies and health worker visits on use of healthcare among young children in Mali.

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A crowded urban area in Bangladesh

Poor sanitation is estimated to cause 280,000 deaths per year, and may also contribute to serious long-term health conditions, despite the existence of simple, effective solutions.

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A local bank in rural Kenya

The vast majority of the world’s poor save, yet they often do so informally even when research findings suggest that accessing savings accounts at formal institutions can help low-income households increase their savings, investments, and ultimately their income. Could temporary interest rate incentives increase formal account use among the poor?

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A tax collector reviews documentation from a citizen in Punjab, Pakistan

While performance pay for tax collectors has the potential to raise tax revenues, there is concern that it may also increase the bargaining power of tax collectors with respect to taxpayers, leading to greater taxpayer dissatisfaction. To examine these issues, researchers conducted a randomized evaluation of three different performance-based schemes in Punjab, Pakistan.

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