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Innovations for Poverty Action is a research and policy nonprofit that discovers and advances what works to improve the lives of people living in poverty.
Our theory of change addresses two problems we see in the world: limited evidence exists on what works to help people living in poverty, and that the evidence that does exist often does not get used. This leads to programs that are either ineffective or not as effective as they could be, and often, to wasted money and enduring poverty.
IPA exists to solve this problem. We test promising ideas across contexts and along the path to scale, proactively engage key decision-makers throughout the research process, share findings with the right people at the right time, and equip partners with the skills and tools they need to use data and evidence. Our vision? A world with more evidence and less poverty.
Most of our work is done in 22 country offices by our trained field researchers who collaborate with a network of academics from top universities in the world. We use randomized evaluations—the method used in clinical trials—to understand which programs work, which don’t, and why.
We also work with policymakers to make sure our research addresses their most pressing issues and to help them create policies and programs based on the best available evidence. To date we’ve run over 900 evaluations in 52 countries across several areas of sectoral expertise. This research has informed hundreds of successful programs that now impact millions of individuals worldwide.
Dean Karlan, Founder
Dean Karlan is the Frederic Esser Nemmers Distinguished Professor of Economics and Finance at Northwestern University's Kellogg School of Management and Co-Director of the Global Poverty Research Lab. He is the Founder of Innovations for Poverty Action and Co-Founder (with Elijah Goldberg) of ImpactMatters. He is a graduate of the University of Chicago's Harris Graduate School of Public Policy and Graduate School of Business, and received his Ph.D in 2002 from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Dean is a recipient of the National Science Foundation CAREER Award, the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE), and the Alfred P. Sloan Research Fellowship. In addition, he is on the Executive Committee of the Board of Directors of the Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab (J-PAL).
His research focuses on microeconomic issues of poverty, typically employing experimental methodologies and behavioral economics insights to examine what works, what does not, and why in interventions in sustainable income generation for those in poverty, household and entrepreneurial finance, health behavior, and charitable giving. He works on issues for low-income households in both developing countries and the United States. Read more about his studies and publications here.
Annie Duflo, Executive Director
Annie Duflo is responsible for leading the strategic directions of IPA, the implementation of its strategic plan and the day to day operations. Previously, Annie served as IPA's Research Director where she managed IPA's research network, staff capacity-building, and new project development. She also played a key role in the scaling up of successful programs with particular focus on education. Annie has a wealth of experience implementing and managing randomized evaluations in the field. Prior to joining IPA, Annie was the Executive Director of the Centre for Microfinance (CMF) at the Institute for Financial Management and Research (IFMR) in Chennai, India, which she joined at its creation. Annie holds a Master of Public Administration and International Development degree from Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government and Master in Social Sciences from EHESS (École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales)/ ENS (École Normale Supérieure) in Paris. Read more about Annie here.