The Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab (J-PAL) was established in 2003 as a research center at the Economics Department at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Since then, it has grown into a global network of researchers who use randomized evaluations to answer critical policy questions in the fight against poverty.
J-PAL’s mission is to reduce poverty by ensuring that policy is informed by scientific evidence. We do this through three main activities:
- Conducting Rigorous Impact Evaluations: J-PAL researchers conduct randomized evaluations to test and improve the effectiveness of programs and policies aimed at reducing poverty.
- Policy Outreach: J-PAL’s policy group analyzes and disseminates research results and builds partnerships with policymakers to ensure that policy is driven by evidence, and effective programs are scaled up.
- Capacity Building: J-PAL equips practitioners with the expertise to carry out their own rigorous evaluations through training courses and joint research projects.
J-PAL is organized both by regional offices and by research themes called Sectors. J-PAL's headquarters is a center within the Economics Department of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), with independent regional offices in Africa, Europe, Latin America, North America, South Asia, and Southeast Asia that are hosted by a local university. J-PAL's Sectors include Agriculture, Education, Environment and Energy, Finance, Health, Labor Markets, and Political Economy and Governance. These regional offices and Sectors are directed by members of the J-PAL Board, which is composed of J-PAL affiliates and senior management. However, J-PAL's affiliated professors set their own research agenda and raise funds to support their evaluations.
J-PAL and its partners are driven by a shared belief in the power of scientific evidence to understand what really helps the poor, and what does not. J-PAL's many partners include:
- Nonprofits (NGOs) and governments that run the programs that J-PAL affiliates evaluate;
- Governments, foundations, international development organizations, and NGOs that use J-PAL's policy lessons on what works in poverty reduction to scale up the most cost-effective programs;
- Donors that provide funding for evaluations, scale-ups and special initiatives, and
- Research centers that help administer J-PAL affiliates' randomized evaluations and who employ the staff associated with these evaluations. Partners include Innovations for Poverty Action (IPA), Centre for Microfinance, Center for International Development's Micro-Development Initiative, Center for Effective Global Action, Ideas 42, and the Small Enterprise Finance Center.
The lab is named for Abdul Latif Jameel, father of MIT alumnus Mohammed Abdul Latif Jameel, who supported the Poverty Action Lab with three major endowments in 2005, and in 2009 gave another substantial gift of endowment support. For more information about J-PAL's history, please see our history page.