Poverty is a staggering problem, with 46 percent of the world’s population living on less than 5.50 USD per day. Research shows that individuals experiencing poverty can leverage investments to increase their self-employment activities and improve their livelihoods but often lack access to credit and insurance, thereby limiting their potential to benefit from investment opportunities.
The transaction costs associated with opening, maintaining, and withdrawing funds may be a barrier to using formal savings accounts for low-income individuals. In partnership with Family Bank of Kenya, researchers evaluated the impact of providing free ATM card to couples on savings account use.
The Covid-19 pandemic led to unprecedented extended school closures around the globe. Ghana’s schools were closed from March 2020 through January 2021. Remote learning was introduced to ensure children continue learning while schools were closed. Equitable access to education is difficult to maintain during remote learning and may increase inequalities by child gender and household backgrounds.
Remittances are one of the largest sources of financial flows to low- and middle-income countries, and researchers and decision-makers are interested in ways to increase their development impact. One promising approach is enabling migrants to label the remittances that they send home for a specific purpose, such as education or business activities.
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 short and long-term impacts of introducing alternative dispute resolution (ADR) trainings on the rate at which community members resolved property disputes and the incidence of violence related to those disputes.
As financial services digitize, more consumers are bringing their experiences online as well, using social media channels like Facebook and Twitter to raise concerns and issues with specific products or services. Social media data could shed new light into the issues that affect digital consumers and how providers are responding to these complaints.
Community policing, which aims to create opportunities for positive, mutually respectful interactions between civilians and the police, may increase citizen trust and enhance the ability of police to enforce the law, but little evidence has existed on this model outside of the US and other developed countries.
Intestinal helminths—including hookworm, roundworm, whipworm, and schistosomiasis—infect more than one in four people worldwide. Researchers evaluated the short-run impacts of a mass school-based deworming program in western Kenya, and found that deworming substantially improved health and school participation of treated children, as well as of untreated children in treatment schools and children in neighboring schools.
Improving access to family planning in sub-Saharan Africa has the potential to help women and couples achieve their desired family size, reduce high-risk pregnancies, and improve child health and growth. In Malawi, Innovations for Poverty Action worked with researchers to measure how an increase in access to family planning—through information, free transportation, and reimbursements for family planning services—impacted women’s fertility, health, and well-being.
To what extent do cash transfers cushion the blow to poor families during hard times? Taking advantage of a pre-existing large-scale evaluation of a universal basic income project in Kenya, researchers measured how different types of cash transfers impact recipients’ income, reported well-being, food security, mental health, and social interaction in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic and the accompanying agricultural seasonality.
Technology adoption often requires investments over time. As farmers realize new information about the costs and benefits of investments, they may abandon the newly adopted technology shortly after. Researchers partnered with the non-governmental organization Shared Value Africa and Dunavant Cotton Ltd to investigate the effects of subsidies and follow-through rewards on the adoption of an agroforestry tree species.
Workers and employers in rural villages in low- to middle-income countries often lack a centralized place to look for or post jobs, which leads to high job search costs, incomplete information, and consequently, a wide pay-range for similar work.
Digitizing government cash transfers may boost usage of formal financial services among vulnerable households and women’s economic empowerment, but poor delivery of these digital transfers could increase the risks that beneficiaries face. In this project, IPA is partnering with Aspire to Innovate (a2i), in Bangladesh to understand how beneficiaries, particularly women, are notified of and receive their payments.
Repeated borrowing from moneylenders at high interest rates is common across many low-income communities. Researchers evaluated whether offering market vendors cash grants to pay off existing debt and financial training influenced future borrowing behavior. While market vendors were less likely to borrow and borrowed in smaller amounts in the short-term, most returned to debt within six weeks.
Use of digital finance products including mobile money, mobile banking, and digital credit has expanded in Kenya in recent years, but poor user experience with these products can reduce consumer welfare and impact use of these services. Kenya is a global leader in digital financial services usage with 79 percent of adults using mobile money, predominantly on the M-Pesa platform. Eight percent of mobile money users in Kenya have lost funds—primarily due to third-party fraud.
Chronic severe air pollution in Bogotá, Colombia has serious human health impacts. Using information and communication technologies (ICTs) to disseminate information about air quality may enable citizens to reduce their exposure to air pollution by, for example, avoiding outdoor exercise on certain days an in certain locations, and may also help change their environmental attitudes and policy preferences.
The effectiveness of COVID-19 mitigation recommendations like social distancing and mask wearing depends critically on whether people comply with them, especially young adults who are less likely to suffer severe complications from the virus, but more likely to be infected by it and spread it.
Despite global efforts to reduce maternal and neonatal mortality, the availability and utilization of maternal and child health care remains low in many low-income contexts, especially those marked by ongoing conflict and civil unrest.