News, ideas, and analysis from J-PAL staff and affiliated professors. Subscribe to our newsletter to receive monthly email updates.

Esther Duflo delivering her lecture

The Economist as Plumber: J-PAL at the American Economic Association Annual Meeting

Sunday, February 5, 2017, by Nour Shammout and Rebecca Toole

Are economists more like scientists or plumbers? In some cases, the answer is both. When partnering with governments to design new policies and programs, J-PAL Director Esther Duflo contends that economists, like plumbers, must pay close attention to the details of implementation. Presenting the Richard T. Ely lecture at the Annual Meeting of the American Economic Association, entitled “The Economist as Plumber,” Esther emphasized the social and scientific value of research... Read More

Innovative Approaches to Improving Child Health in India: Announcing J-PAL South Asia’s Cash Transfers for Child Health Initiative

Monday, January 9, 2017, by Matt Bunyi

2017 marks J-PAL South Asia’s tenth anniversary and a significant milestone in J-PAL’s work to reduce poverty through evidenced-informed policymaking. Since its inception, J-PAL South Asia has championed poverty alleviation through efforts like its institutionalized government partnership in Tamil Nadu and its support for evidenced-backed programs like the “graduation approach” to build stable livelihoods for the ultra-poor. This year, we are building on this innovative work with the... Read More

Hands shaking in front of government building

Partnering with J-PAL North America: A Practitioner Perspective

Tuesday, December 13, 2016, by Todd Hall

Benefits Data Trust (BDT), a nonprofit partner, is collaborating with J-PAL North America to identify effective outreach strategies to enroll low-income households into benefits. We asked Rachel Cahill, Director of Policy at BDT, a few questions about her experience partnering with J-PAL North America to design an evaluation that will answer important questions about BDT’s work. Read More

President Barack Obama meets with staff of the Social Behavioral Sciences team

White House releases report on applying behavioral science to government policy

Tuesday, October 11, 2016, by Mary Ann Bates

The White House’s Social and Behavioral Sciences Team released its second report last month, and it’s worth a close read. The SBST was launched just over two years ago, and has been working to make government more effective. This might seem like quiet, behind the scenes work, but it can make a big difference when scaled up across national programs.

I’ve had the honor of working with the SBST over the... Read More

Student practices French grammar exercises on chalkboard as teacher looks on

Partnership to institutionalize evidence in education policies in Burkina Faso

Wednesday, April 6, 2016, by J-PAL Europe

The Ministry of National Education and Literacy of Burkina Faso and J-PAL Europe launched a partnership to integrate evidence into the country’s education policies.
The two organizations signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) that places a J-PAL staff person inside the Ministry of National Education and Literacy. With several education reforms in the pipeline, including new adult literacy programs, curricula, and teacher training programs, J-PAL will collaborate with Ministry staff to understand the education challenges that motivated these reforms and share policy lessons from existing evaluations that can help inform their design and effective implementation. Read More

Improving social protection programs in Indonesia

Monday, January 25, 2016, by J-PAL Southeast Asia

"A good policy is one based on evidence," said Sofyan Djalil, Indonesia’s Minister of National Development Planning, at J-PAL's conference in Jakarta.

How can governments ensure that social safety net programs reach their intended beneficiaries? What are the benefits and costs of delivering cash transfers electronically? In Indonesia, social protection programs provide over 65 million low-income households with everything from cash support to subsidized food and insurance. To help answer these questions, J-PAL Southeast Asia hosted a policy conference on January 12 on designing social protection programs. Over 200 policymakers, researchers, donors, and civil society members discussed what has worked and how to further improve social protection in Indonesia and Southeast Asia. J-PAL hosted the event with support from the Australian Government and J-PAL's Governance Initiative, supported by the UK Department for International Development (DFID). Read More