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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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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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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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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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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In 2009 well over a million Filipino citizens worked overseas, collectively sending home billions of dollars in remittances. The majority of overseas workers come from urban areas. This project explores some of the barriers to migration for rural inhabitants, such as lack of information, credit constraints, and the complex Philippines passport process.

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Students in Peru have historically ranked poorly in math and science in comparative tests across South America. The Peruvian government is seeking to test a new science curriculum which moves away from traditional rote memorization to hypothesis testing and inquiry. In two pilots in Lima Province, a random sample of classrooms’ teachers received training in a new style of teaching, and the classrooms were provided with hands-on materials to work with.
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Despite expanding access to sanitary options such as community toilets, many individuals, especially in urban slums, continue to practice open defecation. One potential explanation is that open defecation has become an ingrained habit.
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People give to charity for different and multiple reasons. Understanding why people donate may help organizations improve their messaging to potential donors, increase their revenue, and conduct additional programming to achieve their mission. Researchers examined whether individuals gave more after receiving information about a charity’s impact.
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