Nava Ashraf, Mushfiq Mobarak, Michael Kremer
January 27, 2011

Last Friday I attended the inaugural Impact Evaluation Conference at the Millennium Challenge Corporation. It was great hearing an exciting mix of new research fresh from leading academics, and ideas from various practitioners on the challenges of incorporating evaluation into public policy.

MCC Chief Economist Franck Wiebe opened with a robust defense of rigorous evaluation, noting that more than half of the projects in the MCC portfolio and subject to a rigorous quantitative evaluation (many, but not all of which are randomized). He also noted that common...

Xavier Giné
January 19, 2011

IPA Research Affiliate Xavier Gine has an article on the World Bank's finance blog discussing microinsurance for farmers. 

Ask small farmers in semiarid areas of Africa or India about the most important risk they face and they will tell you that it is drought. In 2003 an Indian insurance company and World Bank experts designed a potential hedging instrument for this type of risk—an insurance contract that pays off on the basis of the rainfall recorded at a local weather station.

Despite the potentially large welfare...

Esther Duflo, Michael Kremer, Jonathan Robinson
December 22, 2010

Sadly there was no randomized evaluation, so we can't be sure. But there are good reasons to believe that Malawi's national fertilizer subsidy scheme has been successful in increasing agricultural production.  

One of the main concerns of critics is the sheer cost of the scheme. In Malawi around 9% of all government spending is going on the subsidy.

What if we could get similar results for next to nothing?

That is pretty much what Esther Duflo, Michael Kremer,...

December 07, 2010

IPA has a fairly sizable research agenda looking at why investment by small farmers is so low given potentially high returns. Is it credit constraints? The risk of drought and crop failure? We are exploring questions like these in various countries such as Ghana, Mali, Kenya, Indonesia, and India. Our close partners J-PAL have launched the Agricultural Technology Adoption Initiative to facilitate research into these questions.

A new CSAE working paper calls into question this entire agenda, challenging whether the returns to new technologies are actually all that high. Or rather,...

October 29, 2010


IPA Project Associate Elizabeth Schultz is blogging her experiences in helping roll out a new IPA survey in Ghana.

Here is an excerpt:

We tried to model our question after surveys that had been done in other developing economies, as detailed in Delevande, Gine and McKenzie.  These surveys asked respondents to allocate piles of stones to different pots, depending on how likely they thought different amounts of rainfall were.  The advantage of this is that the respondent does not even need to be able to count, he or she can just compare...

Media Coverage
July 08, 2010

"Even lentils can lead to miracles." How research by IPA Research Affiliates focusing on tangible goals is causing a revolution in the way we think about development.

Media Coverage
January 20, 2010

An article on New Year's Resolutions recognizes the tendency to procrastinate, and offers solutions to address it.  Research on fertilizer yields and usage in Kenya by IPA Research Affiliates Esther Duflo, Michael Kremer, and Jonathan Robinson is mentioned.

Commitment contracts in the Philippines, a project by IPA Researchers Xavier Giné, Dean Karlan, and Jonathan Zinman is also mentioned.

Courtney Robinson
May 20, 2009

A funny thing is happening these days in Northern Ghana. After months and months of planning, we are almost at the point where we give 200 farmers actual cash to use on their maize farms. As with many of IPA’s research projects, the participants are selected at random. In other words, we’ve surveyed 500 farmers about their farming practices, but only 200 will receive capital grants. 

The rest will make up the control group, so that we can examine the farmers' returns on the extra capital.  This week, the field workers are informing those who will receive capital grants that they...