Systems of performance pay have become increasingly common in the public sector in the last decade in both developed and developing countries. Despite advances in these programs, there is great need to generate evidence on the effectiveness of performance pay systems and on how to optimize their design to suit the health sector. This impact evaluation aimed to assist Peru’s Ministry of Health in its development of a design for a pay for performance scheme.

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The lack of formal financial services in rural areas may inhibit farmers from saving, investing, and smoothing their consumption. Researchers analyzed the effect of reducing barriers to saving in rural Malawi on savings behavior, investment in agricultural inputs, and consumption. They found that farmers with access to formal savings accounts preserved greater amounts of savings throughout both the harvest and planting seasons.

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Almost a quarter of all primary school age children are not attending school in Sub-Saharan Africa. In this study in southern Mali, researchers evaluated the impact of an accelerated learning program for out-of-school children on the students’ educational achievement, home life, and continuation with schooling.  This research aimed to contribute to cost-efficient policies for improved access to, and quality of, education in Mali and beyond.

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Small-scale farming accounts for over 90 percent of agricultural output in Sub-Saharan Africa, and agricultural productivity on these farms is low, on average.  Contractually linking farmers to buyers may improve farmer profits and stimulate economic growth, but more evidence is needed on how these agreements impact farmers’ livelihoods and the crops they grow.

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Even when there are no official school fees, the financial burden of purchasing uniforms, books, and other school supplies prevents low-income students from remaining in school. In Uganda, researchers tested whether a school-based savings program improved academic performance and reduced dropout rates by enabling students and their families to save for school-related expenses.

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Farmers across the developing world face risk from hazards such as weather, pests, and crop disease, but largely lack insurance to manage these risks. One reason for this lack of viable insurance products may be that farmers know their plots and risks better than insurers, and react accordingly. In the Philippines, researchers offered insurance on randomly assigned plots to farmers, and found that farmers preferred to insure the plots that faced more risk.

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Researchers asked if sending regular text messages to clients reminding them to save encouraged Filipino account holders to increase their balances.

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Rates of unwanted births and unmet demand for contraception remain high in many countries where men report larger ideal family sizes than their wives. Researchers used an evaluation that varied whether women were given access to contraceptives alone or with their husbands to examine the effect of male involvement in family planning on fertility outcomes.

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Adolescent girls living in low-income settings may be trapped in a vicious cycle that prevents them from attaining employment and achieving better health outcomes and reproductive autonomy. Researchers will evaluate the impact of a program in Sierra Leone that aims to address this problem by bundling health education, vocational skills training, and micro-credit.

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At the end of 2009, 22.5 million people were living with HIV in sub-Saharan Africa. The number of voluntary counseling and testing (VCT) facilities in the region has grown significantly over time, but utilization of the services has remained low. Researchers evaluated the Malawi Diffusion and Ideational Change Project (MDICP), which sought to explore the demand for, and the impact of, learning one’s HIV status.

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Small and medium enterprises are seen as promising engines of growth in developing countries but often fail to live up to their potential because of barriers to growth such as limited access to credit. Researchers used a randomized evaluation to measure the impact of introducing computer-generated credit scores on lending to micro and small enterprises in Colombia.

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Sub-Saharan Africa accounts for 24 percent of the global burden of disease. While private clinics are the first source of care for many Africans, the quality of care offered in private facilities is inconsistent and often weak, and the private healthcare sector faces a wide host of challenges.

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The study is designed as a survey with an embedded experiment and took advantage of Mexico's privatized social security system, which requires workers to choose their retirement investment funds (AFOREs) from an approved list.  This research project will collect detailed survey data and implement a series of field experiments in order to further understand the factors that determine workers' investment choices.

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Sanitation is essential to health and welfare, but as many as 2.5 billion people in the developing world have no access to improved sanitation. In slums near Nairobi, Kenya, IPA-affiliated researchers from UC Berkeley and the University of Maryland are testing how subsidizing the cost of connecting to the sewer system and providing information about the health benefits of improved sanitation affects the number of landlords who connect to the sewer system.

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There are growing concerns that American households tend to borrow too much and save too little, making it hard to meet basic needs, build assets, prepare for retirement, and pay for emergency expenses. Large debt burdens may compromise individuals and families’ ability to create a safety net or make investments for the future.

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Commitment devices – in which people restrict their own choices in the near future to reach a farther off goal – have been shown to help people reach their goals, including savings goals. But are people good at choosing the right commitment contract? This evaluation in the Philippines tested the demand for and impact of a new commitment savings account with fixed regular installments. Clients could choose the stakes of the contract (in form of a default penalty) themselves.

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Hundreds of millions of children worldwide are infected with parasitic worms. These worms are detrimental to children's health, their cognitive development, their education and their futures. Chronic illness caused by worm infections reduces literacy and adult productivity. This evaluation found that free deworming treatment substantially improved student attendance and health.

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Why do so few people use fertilizer even though it can considerably improve yields? This project measures the increase in yield due to fertilizer and hybrid seed use in Western Kenya. It found that fertilizer is profitable, and providing information goes part of the way towards increasing fertilizer adoption. Programs that help farmers commit when they have money to use fertilizer in the future have a very large impact on fertilizer adoption. 

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