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Enrollment in early childhood education has increased dramatically in Ghana, but the education sector now faces the challenge of ensuring young children learn and develop school readiness skills. This study evaluated the impacts of a scalable, in-service training and coaching program for kindergarten teachers, delivered with and without parental awareness meetings, on teaching practices and children’s learning and development. Key Findings: The in-service teacher training and coaching improved teachers’ use of the play-based kindergarten-specific pedagogy that is specified in Ghana’s national early childhood education curriculum. The program led to moderate impacts on teachers’ professional well-being, reducing teacher burnout for all teachers, and teacher turnover in the private sector. The teacher-training and coaching improved children’s school readiness, including their early literacy, early numeracy, and social-emotional skills in the first year. One year later, when children move...
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Brief
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September 03, 2019
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Las fuerzas policiales urbanas tienden a enfocar sus esfuerzos en las áreas con tasas de crimen más altas. Sin embargo, incrementar la presencia estatal en los sitios más inseguros puede simplemente desplazar el crimen a otras áreas, dejando las tasas de crimen agregadas iguales a como estaban en un principio. En Bogotá, Colombia, un grupo de investigadores, en alianza con la Alcaldía de la ciudad, decidieron medir el impacto de tres estrategias sobre la reducción del crimen y su desplazamiento: focalizar la vigilancia policial, hacer mejoras al espacio público y una combinación de ambas estrategias. La evaluación encontró que estas estrategias reducen el crimen en las calles focalizadas en el estudio, pero solo cuando son implementadas al mismo tiempo. Mientras la mayoría de los crímenes, particularmente los delitos contra la propiedad parecen desplazarse a las calles aledañas. Hay evidencia que sugiere que los crímenes violentos, especialmente los homicidios y el abuso sexual, dismin...
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Brief
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September 03, 2019
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Can greater control over earned income incentivize women to work and influence gender norms? In collaboration with Indian government partners, we provided rural women with individual bank accounts and randomly varied whether their wages from a public workfare program were directly deposited into these accounts or into the male household head’s account (the status quo). Women in a random subset of villages were also trained on account use. In the short run, relative to women just offered bank accounts, those who also received direct deposit and training increased their labor supply in the public and private sectors. In the long run, gender norms liberalized: women who received direct deposit and training became more accepting of female work, and their husbands perceived fewer social costs to having a wife who works. These effects were concentrated in households with otherwise lower levels of, and stronger norms against, female work. Women in these households also worked more in the long...
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Working Paper
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September 01, 2019
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Lessons from randomized evaluations on managing and preventing crime, violence, and conflict.  What are the most promising strategies for reducing crime, violence, and conflict? The past decade has seen a dramatic expansion in the experimental literature designed to help answer this question. Moving beyond evaluations of individual programs, these studies seek to advance our understanding of what drives individuals and groups towards violence and conflict and the levers at our disposal for their reduction. This evidence review, prepared by staff at the Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab (J-PAL) and Innovations for Poverty Action (IPA) for the Department for International Development (DFID), offers a broad review of the expansion of this literature and seeks to capture some of the emerging insights from across these studies. The review has been prepared as part of J-PAL and IPA’s Governance, Crime and Conflict Initiative (GCCI), a £12-million investment by DFID launched in 2017 to p...
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Report
Date:
July 31, 2019
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Objectives: This study aimed to assess the accuracy of pregnant women’s perceptions of maternity facility quality and the association between perception accuracy and the quality of facility chosen for delivery. Design: A cohort study. Setting: Nairobi, Kenya. Participants: 180 women, surveyed during pregnancy and 2 to 4 weeks after delivery. Primary outcome measures: Women were surveyed during pregnancy regarding their perceptions of the quality of all facilities they were considering during delivery and then, after delivery, about their ultimate facility choice. Perceptions of quality were based on perceived ability to handle emergencies and complications. Delivery facilities were assigned a quality index score based on a direct assessment of performance of emergency ‘signal functions’, skilled provider availability, medical equipment and drug stocks. ‘Accurate perceptions’ was a binary variable equal to one if a woman’s ranking of facilities based on her quality perception equalled t...
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Published Paper
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July 30, 2019
English
Innovations for Poverty Action (IPA) is a research and policy non-profit that discovers and promotes effective solutions to global poverty problems. IPA brings together researchers and decision-makers to design, rigorously evaluate, and refine these solutions and their applications, ensuring that the evidence created is used to improve the lives of the world’s poor. Since our founding in 2002, IPA has worked with over 575 leading academics to conduct over 650 evaluations in 51 countries. Future growth will be concentrated in focus countries, such as Myanmar, where we have local and international staff, established relationships with government, NGOs, and the private sector, and deep knowledge of local issues.
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Brief
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July 08, 2019
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Over the past two decades, sports programs have proliferated as a mode of engaging youth in development projects. Thousands of organizations, millions of participants, and hundreds of millions of dollars are invested in sports-based development programs each year. The underlying belief that sports promote socioemotional skills, improve psychological well-being, and foster traits that boost labor force productivity has provided motivation to expand funding and offerings of sport for development (SFD) programs. We partnered with an international NGO to randomly assign 1200 young adults to a sports and life skills development program. While we do not see evidence of improved psychosocial outcomes or resilience, we do find evidence that the program caused a 0.12 standard deviation increase in labor force participation. Secondary analysis suggests that the effects are strongest among those likely to be most disadvantaged in the labor market.
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Working Paper
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July 01, 2019
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There is little evidence on how the large market for credit score improvement products affects consumers or credit market efficiency. A randomized encouragement design on a standard credit builder loan (CBL) identifies null average effects on whether consumers have a credit score and the score itself, with important heterogeneity: those with loans outstanding at baseline fare worse, those without fare better. Selection, treatment effect, and prediction models indicate the CBL reveals valuable information to markets, inducing positive selection and making credit histories more precise, while keeping credit scores’ predictive power intact. With modest targeting changes, CBLs could work as intended.
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Working Paper
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July 01, 2019
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In Zambia, we have continued our global tradition of rigorous, applicable research by building foundational research capacity and conducting evaluations in areas of pressing national concern. Examples of our research below offer promising insights into everyday issues that affect the lives of the Zambian poor.
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Brief
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June 20, 2019
Accumulating evidence suggests that pay-for-performance (P4P) contracts can elicit greater effort from incumbent civil servants, but less is known about how these contracts affect the composition of the public sector workforce. We provide the first experimental evidence of the impact of P4P on both the compositional and effort margins. In partnership with the Government of Rwanda, we implemented a ‘pay-for-percentile’ scheme (Barlevy and Neal 2012) in a novel two-tier experimental design. In the first tier, we randomly assigned teacher labor markets to either P4P or equivalent fixed-wage contracts. In the second tier, we implemented a ‘surprise’, school-level re-randomization, allowing us to separately identify the compositional effects of advertised P4P contracts and the effort effects of experienced P4P contracts. Our pre-analysis plan sets out a theoretical framework that helps to define a set of hypotheses, and conducts simulations on blinded data to develop high-powered tests. We...
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Working Paper
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June 20, 2019
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Background Globally, there has been increasing attention to women’s experiences of care and calls for a person-centered care approach. At the heart of this approach is the patient-provider relationship. It is necessary to examine the extent to which providers and women agree on the care that is provided and received. Studies have found that incongruence between women’s and providers’ perceptions may negatively impact women’s compliance, satisfaction, and future use of health facilities. However, there are no studies that examine patient and provider perspectives on person-centered care. Methods To fill this gap in the literature, we use cross-sectional data of 531 women and 33 providers in seven government health facilities in Kenya to assess concordance and discordance in person-centered care measures. Additionally, we analyze 41 in-depth interviews with providers from three of these facilities to examine why differences in reporting may occur. Descriptive statistical methods were use...
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Published Paper
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June 10, 2019
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In Ghana, we have continued our global tradition of rigorous, applicable research by building foundational research capacity and conducting evaluations in areas of pressing national concern. Examples of our work in this brief offer promising insights into everyday issues that affect the lives of the Ghanaian poor.
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Brief
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June 06, 2019
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For the most vulnerable, even small negative shocks can have significant short- and long-term impacts. Few interventions that improve shock-coping are widely available in sub-Saharan Africa. Researchers test whether individual pre- cautionary savings can mitigate a shock-coping behavior with potentially neg- ative spillovers: transactional sex. Sex for money is a common shock-coping behavior in sub-Saharan Africa and is believed to be a leading driver of the HIV/AIDS epidemic. In a field experiment in Kenya, researchers randomly assigned half of 600+ participating, vulnerable women to a savings intervention that consists of opening a mobile banking savings account labeled for emergency expenses and individual goals. The intervention led to an increase in total mobile savings, reductions in transactional sex as a risk-coping response to shocks, and a decrease in symptoms of sexually transmitted infections.
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Working Paper
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June 05, 2019
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Financial knowledge is critical for making sound decisions that foster financial health and protect consumers from predation. A widely-used tool for building this capability is financial education. Yet evidence suggests that conventional approaches which teach concepts in classroom-style settings are ineffective and expensive at scale, especially for lower-income users. More recent findings indicate that customizing financial education to the needs, interests, and location of participants may increase impact, though doing so in a cost-effective and scalable way remains challenging. This randomized evaluation of a tablet-based financial education program with mostly female recipients of a conditional cash transfer (CCT) program in Colombia offers evidence for how to design and scale an effective digital-based financial education program. Results indicate that the LISTA Initiative had significant positive impacts on financial knowledge, attitudes, practices, and performance, increasing f...
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Working Paper
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June 01, 2019
We test whether the provision of multiple labeled savings accounts affects savings decisions and downstream outcomes in a field experiment with 481 entrepreneurs in urban Malawi. Treatment respondents received either one or multiple savings boxes, while a control group received nothing. Multiple accounts increased savings in treatment accounts by about 30%. Savings boxes had sizeable effects on a number of outcomes, including farming decisions, household expenditures, land purchases, credit extended to customers, and interpersonal transfers. However, we find no evidence that multiple accounts had larger downstream effects than single accounts.
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Working Paper
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May 17, 2019
Differences in management quality are an important contributor to productivity differences across countries. A key question is how to best improve poor management in developing countries. This paper tests two different approaches to improving management in Colombian auto parts firms. The first uses intensive and expensive one-on-one consulting, while the second draws on agricultural extension approaches to provide consulting to small groups of firms at approximately one-third of the cost of the individual approach. Both approaches lead to improvements in management practices of a similar magnitude (8–10 percentage points), so that the new group-based approach dominates on a cost-benefit basis. Moreover, the paper finds some evidence that the group-based intervention led to increases in firm size over the next three years, while the impacts on firm outcomes are smaller and statistically insignificant for the individual consulting. The results point to the potential of group-based approa...
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Working Paper
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May 01, 2019
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While much progress has been made in global health over the last decade, advancement has been slower on certain key indicators such as maternal mortality. Contraception and family planning can reduce the risk of maternal mortality and other health complications associated with high fertility rates, early pregnancies, and short birth spacing, but women around the world continue to report a large unmet need for contraception. Low use of family planning and contraception is a particular concern in sub-Saharan Africa because of persistently high rates of HIV/AIDS and a highest incidence of maternal mortality. For every 100,000 live births, 547 women died in childbirth in sub-Saharan Africa in 2015, according to the World Bank. Innovations for Poverty Action (IPA), along with academic researchers and implementing partners, conducts rigorous research on reproductive health to identify cost-effective ways to increase access to and use of family planning and reproductive health services, reduc...
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Brief
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May 01, 2019
This paper examines the effects of a government-sponsored apprenticeship training program designed to address high levels of youth unemployment in Ghana. The study exploits randomized access to the program to examine the short-run effects of apprenticeship training on labor market outcomes. The results show that apprenticeships shift youth out of wage work and into self-employment. However, the loss of wage income is not offset by increases in self-employment profits in the short run. In addition, the study uses the randomized match between apprentices and training providers to examine the causal effect of characteristics of trainers on outcomes for apprentices. Participants who trained with the most experienced trainers or the most profitable ones had higher earnings. These increases more than offset the program’s negative treatment effect on earnings. This suggests that training programs can be made more effective through better recruitment of trainers.
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Working Paper
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May 01, 2019

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