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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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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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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SME manufacturing

Startups in developing countries tend to grow more slowly on average than those in high-income countries, but the reasons why are not well understood. Researchers analyzed data on all manufacturers with more than 10 employees in Colombia and the U.S. over a period of 30 years to compare employment growth among manufacturers in each country.

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Uganda has made substantial advancements in financial consumer protection policy in recent years but understanding whether and how the financial sector complies with these new regulations can be a challenge.

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Intimate partner violence (IPV) is a widespread global problem, but little is known about how to reduce it in low-income countries, especially with programs that focus on men. Researchers worked with IPA, the Airbel Center at the International Rescue Committee, and the Behavioral Insights Team to design a text message-based behavioral intervention, the Modern Man Challenge, that aims to reduce IPV by promoting behavior change among men.

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Social networks are often seen as a cost-effective way to disseminate information, but there is lack of evidence to inform who to give information to within a network to best reach others within the community. Researchers conducted a randomized evaluation in Mali to study the role of giving information to different people within a network in the spread of that information.

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Exposure to violence, conflict, and other traumatic life events can have harmful effects on the economic, human, and social capital of individuals and their communities. Entrepreneurship and business skills training curricula have been commonly adopted as an approach for promoting socio-economic inclusion in fragile settings.

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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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Improving tax administration is an important priority for many developing country governments. An efficient and equitable tax system can increase government revenue, lessen dependence on foreign aid, and strengthen state authority. Researchers studied the impact of an innovative taxpayer recognition program that appealed to business owners’ desires for social recognition on firms’ VAT tax compliance and payment rates in Dhaka, Bangladesh.

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Graduating the Ultra Poor in Ghana

More than one fifth of the world’s population lives on less than US$1.25 per day. While many credit and training programs have not been successful at raising income levels for these ultra-poor households, recent support for livelihoods programs has spurred interest in evaluating whether comprehensive “big push” interventions may allow for a sustainable transition to self-employment and a higher standard of living.

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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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Large debt burdens are a significant threat to financial stability for many households. Innovations for Poverty Action worked with researchers to evaluate whether prize-linked incentives can help borrowers reduce their debt burdens more effectively. A randomly selected group of borrowers on debt repayment plans were offered entry into a program that turns on-time debt repayments into entries in a lottery.

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Saving for multiple goals at the same time is difficult, especially for individuals without access to formal bank accounts. In Malawi, researchers offered micro-entrepreneurs either single or multiple lockboxes to evaluate the impact of the boxes on savings and other business and financial outcomes. Individuals offered multiple lockboxes saved more than those offered a single lockbox, suggesting that providing lockboxes may be a cost-effective way to promote savings.

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In Mexico, as in many other countries, retirement savings levels are low. The situation is worse for informal workers and the unemployed, who cannot rely on employer contributions to help build their nest eggs.

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