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Childhood immunization is one of the most successful and cost-effective public health interventions to date, preventing an estimated 2 to 3 million deaths every year and severe morbidity for millions more children from devastating diseases such as polio and the hepatitis B virus. Although there have been substantial gains in childhood immunization globally, coverage still lags in many countries, leaving millions vulnerable to disease. A particular challenge is on the demand side—low acceptance and uptake despite availability of vaccine supplies and services. Demand-side interventions target the barriers to acceptance and uptake, such as lack of awareness about the schedule and benefits, low prioritization of immunization, financial obstacles, or distrust in immunization. These interventions will only move the needle in the context of a functioning vaccine supply chain and effective health services. In this brief, Innovations for Poverty Action’s Path-to-Scale Research team has compiled...
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Brief
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June 24, 2021
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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, increasingly, these studies are striving to test broader hypotheses about how programs work (i.e. what are the key program components driving change) and to generate insights into human behavior (i.e. why individuals may be motivated to act in certain ways). This evidence review, prepared by staff at the Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab (J-PAL) and Innovations for Poverty Action (IPA) ) for the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO), 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 Governan...
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Report
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June 23, 2021
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Instead of using long questionnaires administered in person, researchers are increasingly turning to phone surveys, which require shorter instruments but can be administered over multiple, shorter interviews. A limitation of high-frequency phone surveys is study attrition, where individuals enrolled in a baseline survey may not be reachable or willing to complete follow-up interviews. This brief shares some evidence on phone survey attrition calculated from existing data collected in the early 2010s in Tanzania and Senegal. In these cases, the researchers distributed devices to respondents, ensuring the best-known conditions for minimizing attrition. In addition to presenting attrition rates calculated over multiple survey waves, the brief explores whether there is differential attrition by respondent type, examining changes to the sample composition. Differential attrition can lead to bias in the parameters that researchers are trying to estimate. The results show that attrition was...
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Phone Survey Methods Resource
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May 21, 2021
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For the public health sector, the rollout of COVID-19 vaccines presents new challenges—a rapid timeline, targeting of adults, and, given limited initial supply, prioritization of high-risk populations. Research on these challenges in the context of childhood immunization has shed light on the barriers and enablers to vaccination, as well as effective demand-generation strategies to improve acceptance and uptake. While new information will emerge over time, evidence from decades of global efforts to immunize children offers important lessons to inform COVID-19 vaccination rollouts. In this brief, Innovations for Poverty Action’s Path-to-Scale Research team has compiled evidence from demand-side interventions to increase vaccination in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) to help inform COVID-19 vaccination programming.
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Brief
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May 20, 2021
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In settings where an individual's labor choices are constrained, the inability to work may generate psychosocial harm. This paper presents a causal estimate of the psychosocial value of employment in the Rohingya refugee camps of Bangladesh. We engage 745 individuals in a field experiment with three arms: (1) a control arm, (2) a weekly cash arm, and (3) a gainful employment arm, in which work is o ered and individuals are paid weekly the approximate equivalent of that in the cash arm. We find that employment confers significant psychosocial benefits beyond the impacts of cash alone, with effects concentrated among males. The cash arm does not improve psychosocial wellbeing, despite the provision of cash at a weekly amount that is more than twice the amount held by recipients in savings at baseline. Consistent with these findings, we find that 66% of those in our work treatment are willing to forego cash payments to instead work for free. Our results have implications for social protec...
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Working Paper
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May 19, 2021
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Empirical social sciences rely heavily on surveys to measure human behavior. Previous studies show that such data are prone to random errors and systematic biases caused by social desirability, recall challenges, and the Hawthorne effect. Moreover, collecting high frequency survey data is often impossible, which is important for outcomes that fluctuate. Innovation in sensor technology might address these challenges. In this study, we use sensors to describe solar light adoption in Kenya and analyze the extent to which survey data are limited by systematic and random error. Sensor data reveal that households used lights for about 4 h per day. Frequent surveyor visits for a random sub-sample increased light use in the short term, but had no long-term effects. Despite large measurement errors in survey data, self-reported use does not differ from sensor measurements on average and differences are not correlated with household characteristics. However, mean-reverting measurement error stan...
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Published Paper
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May 18, 2021
It is often argued that people might take on too much high-cost debt because they are present focused and/or overoptimistic about how soon they will repay. We measure borrowers' present focus and overoptimism using an experiment with a large payday lender. Although the most inexperienced quartile of borrowers underestimate their likelihood of future borrowing, the more experienced three quartiles predict correctly on average. This finding contrasts sharply with priors we elicited from 103 payday lending and behavioral economics experts, who believed that the average borrower would be highly overoptimistic about getting out of debt. Borrowers are willing to pay a significant premium for an experimental incentive to avoid future borrowing, which we show implies that they perceive themselves to be time inconsistent. We use borrowers' predicted behavior and valuation of the experimental incentive to estimate a model of present focus and naivete. We then use the model to study common payday...
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Working Paper
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May 17, 2021
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Evidence suggests that face masks can slow the spread of COVID-19 and save lives, but getting people to consistently and properly wear masks has been a public health challenge. In Bangladesh, researchers partnered with policymakers to design and evaluate strategies to increase mask uptake. Masks were distributed to households and in public places. Mask use was promoted through role-modeling, messages by prominent Bangladeshi leaders and personalities, informational brochures, and in-person reinforcement. The researchers also tested a number of incentives and behavioral nudges, including public commitment devices and text message reminders.
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Brief
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May 13, 2021
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BACKGROUND: Limited evidence exists on how women’s experiences of care, specifically person-centered maternity care during childbirth, influence maternal and newborn health outcomes. OBJECTIVE: This study aimed to examine the associations between person-centered maternity care and maternal and newborn health outcomes. STUDY DESIGN: Longitudinal data were collected with 1014 women who completed baseline at a health facility and followed up at 2 weeks and 10 weeks after birth. A validated 30-item person-centered maternity care scale was administered to postpartum women within 48 hours after childbirth. The person-centered maternity care scale has 3 subscales: dignity and respect, communication and autonomy, and supportive care. Bivariate and multivariable log Poisson regressions were used to examine the relationship between person-centered maternity care and reported maternal complications, newborn complications, postpartum depression, postpartum family planning uptake, exclusive breastf...
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Published Paper
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May 06, 2021
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Mass media can spread information and disinformation, but its impact is hard to rigorously measure. Using a two-level randomized evaluation covering 5 million people, we test both exposure to mass media (with 1,500 women receiving radios) and the impact of a high-quality, intensive 2.5 year, family planning mass media campaign in Burkina Faso (8 of 16 local radio stations received the campaign). We find women who received a radio in noncampaign areas reduced contraception use by 5.2 percentage points (p=0.039) and had more conservative gender attitudes. In contrast, modern contraceptive use rose 5.9 percentage points (p=0.046) in campaign areas and 5.8 percentage points (p=0.030) among those given radios in campaign areas. Births fell 10%. The campaign changed beliefs about contraception but not preferences, and encouraged existing users to use more consistently. We estimate the nationwide campaign scale-up led to 225,000 additional women using modern contraception, at a cost of US$7.7...
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Working Paper
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May 05, 2021
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  We use a Randomized Controlled Trial in Pakistan to test whether one-on-one engagement with community religious leaders can encourage them to advise congregants to comply with public health guidelines from state authorities. We test whether religious content in this engagement increases its effectiveness. We find that simple one-on-one engagement significantly improves the advice given by religious leaders to congregants on preventing COVID transmission in the mosque. Engagement was equally effective with or without explicitly religious content. Treatment effects are driven by the subsample who are already convinced of basic information about COVID at baseline, suggesting the treatment does not work by correcting basic knowledge about the disease. Rather, it may work through the effectiveness of one-on-one engagement that reinforces existing knowledge and connects it to actions that respondents can take in their role as community leaders.
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Published Paper
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May 01, 2021
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Response rates remain low in phone surveys compared to face-to-face data collection (see here for a similar brief on response rates). This is especially true for random digit dial (RDD) or similar “cold call” phone surveys, which are necessary in the absence of a sample frame of reliable phone numbers. This brief presents early evidence from a series of experiments IPA conducted in 4 countries during 2020 to learn whether pre-survey messages, typically SMS texts, improve the rates at which respondents answer the phone, and complete the interview, with the ultimate goal of increasing the productivity of phone surveys. We find that, on average, SMS messages improve the rate at which respondents complete the survey relative to no message. This change is not driven by the rate at which respondents answer the phone, but by survey completion conditional on starting the survey. Random variation in message content had no significant effect on the rate at which respondents answer and complete p...
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Phone Survey Methods Resource
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April 30, 2021
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This research methods brief presents data from random digit dial (RDD) surveys in nine countries. We show that response rates to such surveys are typically below 60 percent and can be as low as 7 percent. We also show that most of the sample is lost at two points in the survey: non-contact, where respondents do not pick up the phone, and early refusal, where respondents terminate the interview before the survey begins. Beyond that point, cooperation is relatively high, with breakoffs during the interview ranging from effectively 0 to 10 percent across the nine countries. This evidence suggests that the most promising ways to increase response rates are strategies that increase pick-up rates and improve the first impression respondents have of the interviewer. While increasing contact and consent rates should logically improve response rates, it is not a guarantee. Future research would be needed to confirm whether respondents who are newly induced to answer and consent to the survey wo...
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Phone Survey Methods Resource
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April 29, 2021
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Helping the ultra-poor develop sustainable livelihoods is a global priority, but policymakers, practitioners, and funders are faced with competing ideas about the best way to reduce extreme poverty. Innovations for Poverty Action conducted a randomized evaluation to test the impacts of diverse components and variants of the Village Enterprise microenterprise program, an integrated poverty alleviation intervention that provides poor households with a combination of cash transfers, mentorship, business training, and support with the formation of savings groups, over a one-year period. Key Findings Village Enterprise’s microenterprise development program led to increased consumption, assets, and income, as well as improvements in nutrition and subjective well-being. Cost-effectiveness appears high: researchers estimate a full cost recovery within three to four years. A cost-equivalent cash transfer appeared to have less promising medium-term impacts on poverty reduction and subjective wel...
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April 20, 2021
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Durante la pandemia del COVID-19 la mayoría de países en el mundo establecieron medidas de confinamiento domiciliario. Estas medidas, aunque efectivas contra la propagación del virus, han tenido consecuencias no deseadas sobre la convivencia en los hogares. Según la OCDE (2020), las niñas y mujeres corren un mayor riesgo de sufrir violencia durante períodos de cuarentena obligatoria debido a la falta de personas o recursos que normalmente pueden ayudarlas a prevenir o enfrentar situaciones violentas. Pasar más tiempo en casa y la inestabilidad económica y laboral son otros factores de riesgo en este contexto.
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April 19, 2021
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La crisis sanitaria y económica generada por la pandemia del COVID-19 ha tenido muchas repercusiones (que se han documentado extensivamente) sobre el bienestar de millones de personas en el mundo. Uno de los efectos más alarmantes de la pandemia es el deterioro en la salud mental tanto de las personas que se han contagiado del virus, como del resto de la población que se ha visto afectada por la incertidumbre asociada con una pandemia y por los efectos indirectos relacionados con medidas de contención tomadas por los gobiernos para frenar los contagios.
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Brief
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April 19, 2021
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La pandemia del COVID-19 ha tenido un impacto económico severo en el mundo. Buscando disminuir la velocidad de propagación del virus, varios gobiernos instauraron medidas de confinamiento desde principios de 2020. Sin embargo, esto ha generado barreras al acceso de alimentos a nivel mundial, sobre todo en los grupos más vulnerables (FAO et al., 2020). La falta de una nutrición adecuada es preocupante pues tiene repercusiones negativas en la salud y el desempeño físico y mental en todas las etapas de la vida, en especial en la primera infancia. En el largo plazo, está asociada incluso con una menor productividad e ingreso de los individuos (World Bank, 2006). Desde el inicio de la pandemia, en la región latinoamericana, en México, Guatemala y Colombia alarma la disminución de los ingresos y el aumento de los precios de los alimentos (RIMISP, 2020).
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Brief
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April 15, 2021
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La pandemia del COVID-19 ha puesto a prueba a los gobiernos, el sector privado y la sociedad civil en todos los países del mundo. No obstante, cada país enfrenta retos distintos que dependen en gran medida de sus características socioeconómicas y políticas. En el caso de Colombia, un conflicto armado interno y la presencia de estructuras criminales y de narcotráfico son factores que pueden llegar a exacerbar algunos de los retos de la pandemia. En efecto, las organizaciones armadas y criminales no son actores pasivos frente a la pandemia, y pueden reaccionar de formas que ponen en riesgo la seguridad y el bienestar de distintos segmentos de la sociedad, entre ellos los niños, niñas y adolescentes (NNA).
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April 12, 2021
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La pandemia del COVID-19 presentó grandes desafíos a nivel mundial en 2020, y Colombia no fue la excepción. Por un lado, en la búsqueda de contener la propagación del virus, los gobiernos tomaron medidas de restricción de la movilidad nacional e internacional y de la actividad económica, con excepción de la producción de bienes esenciales (del 16 de marzo al 31 de agosto de 2020). Por otro lado, ante la incertidumbre y las pérdidas de ingreso durante este mismo período, los hogares redujeron la demanda de bienes y servicios. Para noviembre, 39% de los encuestados de RECOVR reportó un cierre permanente del lugar de trabajo que tenían en febrero debido a desafíos relacionados al COVID-19.
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April 12, 2021
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Convincing lending institutions to provide credit to the poor can be a challenge given that poorer clients often have limited to no credit histories and are therefore deemed high risk. A pilot study in Malawi showed that using fingerprints as unique IDs to track credit histories increased repayment behavior of microfinance borrowers, holding promise as a way to help more poor borrowers access credit. With support from USAID’s Development Impact Ventures, researchers collaborated with lenders and a centralized credit data repository in Malawi to evaluate the impact of this approach prior to its transition to scale. The implementation of the scale-up faced many challenges and researchers saw relatively low adoption of fingerprint identification by local microfinance institutions. These results highlight the challenge of scaling up a complicated technology in a resource-constrained setting, and the broader importance of evaluating interventions beyond the pilot scale before expanding them...
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April 07, 2021

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