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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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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Traditional commitment savings accounts encourage savings behavior by restricting withdrawals until a pre-set savings goal is reached. This study tests a natural extension of this design by offering households a new savings account that helps clients commit to a savings goal by mimicking the regular payment schedule and noncompliance penalties of a loan. Results show that the regular saver product is effective at increasing savings among clients on average.

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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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Bednets treated with insecticide are a proven way to deter mosquitoes and prevent deadly malaria. But how can we get more people to use these potentially lifesaving items? Some argue that those who pay for a good will value it more and use it more compared to those who receive it for free.

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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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Many people in the developing world lack access to clean water.  Can providing clean water make kids healthier? Will children attend school more often? Will adults be able to work more regularly? We worked with the Government of Morocco to evaluate the impact of offering piped water connections at a subsidized price, and on credit.

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In Uganda, district governments are responsible for providing vital public services such as healthcare and education, but government accountability is relatively weak, leading to under-provision and low quality of services. Researchers worked with IPA to evaluate the impact of a program designed to improve local government accountability and the provision of services: disseminating information to citizens about district politicians’ performance via scorecards.

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Basic “pre-math” skills in young children have been shown to be important for developing later mathematics competency. In Paraguay, where math scores are lower than other Latin American countries, and where there is great variation in math abilities among young children, the government adapted a pre-math curriculum into audio lessons in kindergarten classrooms. Results showed an increase in math scores and narrowing of gaps between many demographic groups. 

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