Select a topic to find related studies, publications, blogs, news, and events.

Access to Finance

Access to Finance is the availability and affordability of financial services for individuals and firms. Without access to external finance, individuals and firms cannot realize their full growth potential. IPA's research designs and evaluates programs designed to reduce the risk and cost of lending.

Access to Healthcare

Increasing access to quality health care is essential to improving health outcomes in developing countries, yet barriers related to availability, cost, geographical access, quality of services, as well as misperceptions of available health services, hamper access to quality healthcare. IPA has evaluated many programs that aim to reduce these barriers.

Access to Markets

Access to markets can help businesses scale production and increase product quality. However, markets in developing countries are often fragmented, illiquid, and lack formal regulation. IPA has evaluated programs that aim to reduce these challenges. In particular, our Small and Medium Enterprise Program assesses the impact of programs and policies designed to expand market access for small and medium enterprises.

Behavioral Design

A large body of evidence suggests that behavioral biases, such as limited attention or loss aversion, can cause people to make choices that do not always enhance their welfare. IPA uses insights from behavioral economics to develop, rigorously evaluate, and scale products and product features that help low- to moderate-income households lead healthier financial lives. IPA has carried out behavioral economic research in Peru, Rwanda...

Cash Transfers

Cash transfers are direct payments, often from governments, made to eligible groups of people. There are three main categories of cash transfers: an unconditional cash transfer (UCT): a cash transfer made without any conditions required for the recipient; a conditional cash transfer (CCT), which is made on the condition that the recipient meets specified criteria such as school attendance or receiving vaccinations; and a labeled cash transfer...

Charitable Giving

How can we optimize charitable donations to do the most good? IPA’s research in this area looks at topics such as the effects of matching contributions, donor responsiveness to information on charities, and what motivates donors to give, among other topics.

Civil Service Motivation & Productivity

Motivating civil servants to be more productive can lead to improved outcomes for citizens. IPA’s research on this topic includes evaluations of programs aimed at increasing teacher attendance and time teaching when in the classroom and an evaluation on how to recruit and retain productive community health workers.

Commitments

A commitment is a choice that an individual makes in the present to restrict their choices in the future, often as a means of controlling future impulsive behavior and attaining long-term goals. Much of IPA's research around commitments has focused on evaluating financial products with commitment features, which are designed to help the poor become better prepared for emergencies or other potential financial setbacks.

Community Participation

Community-based programs seek to empower local communities to identify and implement the projects they most need. IPA's research on this topic has included evaluating of a government-implemented community driven development program in the Philippines, a community sanitation project in Bangladesh, and a community-based anti-poverty project in Ghana.

Conflict

Conflict leads to development setbacks across all sectors of society. IPA’s research on conflict and post-conflict forms a small, yet expanding, body of our work. Thus far, we have evaluated programs aimed at reintegrating former fighters into society, reducing gender-based violence, protecting youth in war, and other topics. Our Peace & Recovery Program is currently developing new evaluations in this area.

Consumer Protection
Crisis

Crisis includes natural, health, and human made disasters. Responding to and preventing crisis is a key to improving the lives of the poor especially in fragile states. IPA’s work in this space includes studies both during and after the Ebola crisis.

Digital Finance
Early Childhood Development

Early childhood development (ECD) connects the physical, social, economic, and cognitive advancement of children with improving their care and education. Even though early educational experiences can have a significant impact on future learning and productivity, early childhood care and education remains underdeveloped in many low income countries. IPA’s work in ECD explores how to ensure kids receive the early education and early cognitive...

Education Quality

Educational outcomes remain low in many countries despite a substantial expansion in access to schooling over the last two decades. IPA has measured the impact of many strategies aimed at improving educational quality, such as evaluating the impact of textbook provision, reducing class size, teaching at the level of the child, remedial lessons taught by community teaching assistants, and other interventions. IPA is also participating in the...

Electoral Participation

Electoral participation varies greatly by country, and can be influenced by whether or not voters are given an incentive or how much information they actually have about candidates. IPA research in this area has ranged from the impact of voter knowledge in Sierra Leone to voter incentives, such as bribes, in the Philippines.

Environment

Environmental issues such as deforestation, climate change, and indoor and outdoor air pollution are considered to have a disproportionate effect on the world's poorest people. IPA's evaluations on this topic have included research on land conservation, recycling, the reduction of plastic bag waste, and the use of cook stoves to reduce indoor air pollution and fuelwood use.

Family Planning & Contraceptive Use

There is a large unmet need for contraception and family planning worldwide. Family planning and contraceptive use is a particular concern in sub-Saharan Africa due to persistently high rates of HIV/AIDS and a high incidence of maternal mortality. IPA’s research on this topic includes examining incentives to use contraception and how factors like information and gender dynamics influence childbearing choices.

Financial Capability

Financial capability is the ability to make informed decisions about the use and management of one’s money. IPA’s Financial Capability Initiative incubates, develops, and rigorously evaluates products and programs that improve the ability of the poor to make informed, welfare-enhancing financial decisions by supporting tests and evaluations of innovative product designs and product-linked financial education interventions that aim to improve...

Food Security

Food security includes the access, availability, and use of food for a household. Since agriculture is the largest employment sector in most low-income countries and is directly linked to a household's food security, IPA's research on food security evaluates questions aimed at increasing agricultural productivity through technology adoption, improved farming techniques, and access to food markets.

Healthcare Quality

Improving access to quality health services, and promoting use of health-promoting services and products, is a global policy priority. Yet lack of income, inadequate health services, poor infrastructure, and many other factors continue to inhibit progress in this area. IPA has a strong and expanding body of research on this topic, with more than 150 evaluations, either completed or in progress, that measure the impact of health-related...

HIV/AIDS

As of 2013, 35 million people were living with HIV, of which 70 percent were living in Sub-Saharan Africa. IPA's research on this topic evaluates interventions that prevent HIV/AIDS transmission through social learning, providing sexual and reproductive health advice, and incentivizing HIV testing.

Human Capital & Skills

Managerial training and consulting are popular programs used to promote the growth of individuals and businesses. It is unclear, however, whether businesses actually apply what they learned in training, and whether applying the lessons translates into higher profits. IPA has worked with researchers on multiple research studies that aim to identify if and how training, consulting, and mentoring programs can sustainably improve business...

Immunization

Every year, 2 to 3 million people die from diseases that could have been prevented with existing vaccines. IPA is looking at interventions designed to improve healthcare systems including vaccination coverage.

Incentives

Incentives may nudge individuals to behave differently or make different choices in health, education, and other spheres of life. Our research in this area has included evaluating how incentives influence teacher performance, the recruitment of health workers, demand for learning one’s HIV status, and the distribution of contraception.

Information & Communications Technology (ICT)

The spread of new technologies such as mobile phones and electronic payment networks have brought about new possibilities for the world's poor, and many programs across all sectors aim to harness this technology. IPA is investigating how programs such as market information for farmers, savings programs, and health information can be delivered to people via mobile phones and other technologies.

Insurance

Many people in the developing world, from shop owners to farmers, face risk from hazards such as weather, disease, or theft, but largely lack insurance to manage these risks. For farmers, risk of bad weather may be preventing them from investing and yielding more from their crops, while health insurance can provide another important safety net. IPA’s research in this area explores how insurance can help protect the poor from unexpected...

Livelihoods

IPA is investigating many ways to help the poor boost the income they get from their work. Methods range from improving farming yields, to land and property ownership, to improving understanding of credit markets for farmers and productivity boosts for small and medium enterprises.

Malaria

Malaria is a mosquito-borne disease that infects approximately 219 million people and kills 660,000 every year, most of them children. Malaria is preventable and curable, but developing countries are particularly prone to widespread infection due to a lack of resources and knowledge about preventative measures. IPA has run evaluations that focus on strategies such as distribution of mosquito bednets and SMS messages that remind people to...

Maternal & Child Health

Substantial progress has been made worldwide in reducing child deaths over the last 25 years, yet on average 17,000 children under five still die every day, mostly from preventable causes and treatable diseases. IPA is evaluating approaches that address the problems from different perspectives, such as how to best communicate health advice to mothers, nutrition, healthcare delivery systems, safe water, and childhood deworming.

Microcredit

Microcredit is the provision of credit services to underserved populations. IPA's evaluations in this area aim to shed light on the underlying financial services needs of poor clients and how different financial services impact the lives of the poor. Evidence thus far suggests that microcredit, the small loans aimed at helping the poor become entrepreneurs, are not an effective poverty alleviation tool as once thought, but other products and ...

Microenterprise

Many people in developing countries are either self-employed or employed in small enterprises (roughly ten or fewer people). IPA’s research in this area investigates solutions to help these businesses thrive and grow through access to finance, skill-building, and encouraging first-time entrepreneurship.

Migration

Migrating from one's home country is one way the poor seek to find new opportunities, mitigate hardship, and improve their lives. While a lot of the attention on migration is around the impact on rich countries, IPA’s work on migration focuses primarily on how migration impacts the wellbeing of the migrants and their home communities.

Mobile Health

The rapid adoption of mobile phones in developing countries has created new opportunities for disseminating information to large populations at a low cost. IPA has been involved in projects that use mobile technology to support health services and health education, including testing whether providing sexual health information through SMS messaging could lower rates of risky behavior in Uganda, and sending text message reminders for malaria...

Nutrition

Poor or inadequate nutrition not only has negative health consequences, but can also have affect school attendance, labor force participation, and productivity. IPA's research in this area includes evaluating the impact of a combined nutrition and WASH intervention, and investigating how to increase the provision of toxin-free maize in Kenya.

Payments

Technology, particularly the growth of digital finance, is rapidly transforming and growing the suite of financial services accessible by the poor. An important challenge is to ensure (and measure) that the financial services and products accessed by the poor benefit them by helping them manage shocks and invest in their future. IPA is investigating the effects that new financial products and payment channels have on the lives and financial...

Post-Primary Education

Access to primary education has expanded over the last two decades, yet progress on increasing access to secondary school has been much slower. Although relatively few young people make it to high school, furthering one's education is thought to have large impacts not only on future earnings, but also on health, gender equality, and civic participation. More evidence is needed to determine just what the impacts are, however. IPA's research on...

Private Healthcare

Efforts to address problems in the healthcare sectors of developing countries have focused mainly on government clinics and hospitals, yet private providers are the first source of care in many settings, and the private healthcare sector faces a wide host of challenges. Regulation and enforcement of quality care in private facilities is generally weak, and the private healthcare sector is not structured to ensure either quality or...

Product Design

Developing countries often have low adoption rates of new products that could potentially boost livelihoods, increase income and encourage productivity. The reasons for low take-up of these products could be that they are not designed in ways that fit the particular needs of the target population, or that the products are not easily attainable. IPA studies focus on designing products that address the specific contexts of the intended users...

Product Pricing

Product pricing plays a major role in the demand and ultimate adoption of a range of IPA’s initiatives. Especially in developing countries, price is often a deciding factor in people forgoing aid, even if the costs are low and the benefits are substantial. Many of IPA’s evaluations examine the relationship between product pricing and adoption, and aim to determine the most cost-effective balance possible.

Reminders

Products that remind people to save may improve individuals' ability to take future needs into account, stall unnecessary consumption in the present, and change savings behavior. Furthermore, reminders to save money, such as in the form of a text message or letter, may also encourage people to commit to their savings goals. IPA's research on this topic has evaluated the effectiveness of savings reminders and/or products in a number of...

Remittances

Migrant remittances are one of the largest international financial flows to developing countries, exceeding $400 billion in 2012--three times the amount of total foreign aid flows to developing countries that year. Our research on remittances focuses on ways to increase the financial benefits of these flows to the individuals sending and receiving money. Evaluations in this area have explored topics such as increasing savings among remittance...

Rural Finance
Savings

The poor in developing countries have limited access to bank accounts and generally rely on informal savings mechanisms. However, informal savings options alone are unable to meet all of a household’s financial needs, and households often report that having access to a savings account is their greatest financial need. Saving is critical to households whose income flows do not match their daily consumption needs, much less their need to plan...

School Attendance

Increasing school attendance is a critical factor in determining a population’s ability to pull themselves out of poverty. Low school attendance can make it difficult for countries to spread important health information, teach real-world skills, and ultimately grow their economies. IPA’s evaluations on increasing school attendance coincide with many additional benefits, including girls’ empowerment, children’s health, and incentives programs...

Technology Adoption

Technology adoption is the introduction and acceptance of modern technological innovations. From the use of fertilizers in agriculture, to fingerprinting high-risk borrowers who need loans, to using a hand-pump to irrigate crops, technology adoption can increase productivity and financial capability for those who need it most. IPA's research in this area explore ways to increase the use of proven technologies and also investigates the...

Training & Mentoring

Training and mentoring is an effective way to teach possible solutions, and for trainees to gain hands-on experience. Increasing financial awareness, building economic and social empowerment among women, and decreasing youth unemployment are just a few areas where IPA incorporates training and mentoring as a way to solve these issues.

Transparency & Accountability

Transparent and accountable government institutions are more effective at delivering important social services such as education and healthcare. However, government accountability and transparency are relatively weak in many countries, leading to under-provision and low quality of services. IPA has a growing body of research in this area, with evaluations that have investigated ways to strengthen local political accountability in Uganda,...

Ultra Poor

An estimated billion people around the world live on $1.25 or less, are known as the ultra-poor and face their own unique challenges. IPA is testing a number of programs designed to reach this population and help them into more sustainable livelihoods.

Vocational Training

Helping young adults find jobs is a goal of policymakers in emerging economies, where high rates of unemployment keep families in poverty. Job training programs, and in particular apprenticeship training with private-sector informal firms, could expand labor market opportunities for young people by providing them with relevant on-the-job experience and market-ready skills. IPA’s research in this area includes apprenticeship training for youth...

WASH

Diarrheal diseases are a leading cause of death for children in the developing world, killing 760,000 children under the age of five each year, yet many cases of diarrhea could be prevented with good water quality and sanitation. IPA’s research in this area explores the effectiveness of new and existing approaches for improving on water quality, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH).

Women & Girls

Policymakers around the world have recognized the important role women play in promoting stable, healthy, and economically prosperous communities. Yet women, especially young women and girls, are often among the most vulnerable and disadvantaged in poor countries. IPA's research in this area examines programs that work to keep girls in school, improve health, create income opportunities, and increase women’s empowerment at home and in their...

Youth

The world is home to 1.8 billion young people (ages 10-24), and the youth population is growing fastest in the poorest nations. IPA is looking at the many challenges faced by this demographic, including education, livelihoods, post-conflict recovery, and HIV/AIDS prevention.