Evidence from randomized evaluations is changing how we understand and address problems related to poverty. Policymakers, practitioners, and funders worldwide are increasingly applying this learning to social policies and programs.
Over 600 million people have been reached by programs and policies that have been informed by evaluations by J-PAL affiliated researchers. Many more have benefitted from the several broader ways evidence can inform policy, outlined below.
Well-designed randomized evaluations test theories and provide general insights about how programs designed to address poverty work. These insights, when combined with descriptive data and a deep understanding of the local context and institutions, provide useful guides for policy design. Strong partnerships between implementers, researchers, and donors are critical to leveraging evidence to inform policy.
Pathways to Policy Change
A federal office to bolster evidence-based policymaking
J-PAL staff and affiliates contributed to the creation of the Office of Evaluation Sciences (OES) to improve the capacity of US federal agencies to build and use rigorous evidence and continue to partner with OES to aid this mission.
A government innovation lab to improve education
With support from J-PAL and IPA, the Ministry of Education in Peru created a dedicated unit to identify, test, and scale low-cost interventions to improve educational outcomes.
Communicating Covid-19 messages at scale via social media
Researchers applied insights from earlier Covid-19 messaging research to launch a large-scale Facebook messaging campaign and corresponding evaluation reaching more than 35 million people.
Community chlorine dispensers for better health
Innovative safe drinking water technology has reached 4 million people in Kenya, Malawi, and Uganda.
Community-based targeting to combat Covid-19-induced poverty
Using community targeting methods to distribute cash transfers during Covid-19 has provided relief to over eight million recipients previously unenrolled in any social protection program in Indonesia.
Designing a social protection program during Covid-19
J-PAL affiliated researchers supported the Government of Chile in designing a cash transfer program during the Covid-19 pandemic, which reached over 3 million households.
Deworming to increase school attendance
After research found that school-based distribution of deworming pills in areas with high infection rates boosted health and school attendance, the approach has been scaled to reach over 280 million children in 2019.
Free bednets to fight malaria
Evidence from randomized evaluations played a role in shifting global opinion to support free distribution of key preventive health products.
Fund flow reform for social program delivery
Central and state governments in India have adopted a financial reform to enhance public service delivery informed by evidence.
Giving directly to support poor households
GiveDirectly has expanded its cash transfer program, which was found in a randomized evaluation to have improved economic and psychological well-being in Kenya, to reach over 125,000 households in rural Kenya, Rwanda, and Uganda since 2013.
Incentivized community grants for aid effectiveness
A performance-incentivized community grant program shown to accelerate improvements in health reached about 4.9 million people from 2010 to 2018 and generated important lessons for future programs to reduce childhood stunting in Indonesia.
Individualized tutoring to improve learning
Saga Education’s intensive math tutoring program has been shown to improve academic outcomes and has now reached 2,500 students facing barriers in the United States.
Information and enforcement to reduce overfishing
Evidence from a randomized evaluation and cost-effectiveness analysis led the Chilean government to expand a consumer information campaign to protect at-risk marine species.
Information and mediation to improve labor courts
The Government of Mexico used insights from a randomized evaluation to inform a national labor law.
Institutionalizing a culture of evidence-informed policymaking in Tamil Nadu
A long-standing partnership between the Government of Tamil Nadu and J-PAL in India has helped institutionalize the use of evidence in decision making and build a culture of evidence-informed policymaking.
Limits of technological solutions to provider monitoring
Based on evidence that biometric monitoring technology did not increase doctors' attendance at primary health centers, the government of Karnataka decided to end the program, saving taxpayers millions of dollars.
Normalizing mask usage to combat Covid-19
A community-level mask distribution and promotion program tripled mask usage in Bangladesh and is now being scaled up in multiple countries, reaching almost 14 million people in South Asia so far.
Parental engagement to improve children's schooling
The French Ministry of Education has expanded a parental involvement program to all public schools in the country on a voluntary basis.
Phone-based technology for agricultural information delivery
Precision Agriculture for Development leveraged findings from two randomized evaluations to create and diffuse a new mobile-phone based model for agricultural extension.
Promoting housing choice to improve economic mobility
Evidence from a flagship randomized evaluation in the United States prompted legislative and administrative changes to expand housing choice for low-income families.
Providing school quality information to improve housing mobility for low-income families
After research found that providing families with information on school quality increased Housing Choice Voucher recipients’ moves to neighborhoods with higher-rated schools, an affordable housing website expanded the provision of school quality information to all of its 60,000 daily site users.
Simplified reminders to increase take-up of tax credits
Following an evaluation in California testing variations of reminder letters to low-income households to increase take-up of tax credits, the US tax agency scaled up nationally the use of reminders that simply and prominently displayed potential benefits.
Skills training to strengthen police performance
Training in soft skills for police in Rajasthan, India improved public perceptions of their performance.
Strengthening third-party audits to reduce pollution
Evidence from a randomized evaluation informed the scale-up of a pollution audit policy in Gujarat, India.
Targeted information to improve social assistance
Government scale-up improves access to targeted social programs for 65.67 million people.
Targeting the ultra-poor to improve livelihoods
A multifaceted livelihood program has reached and improved the standard of living for more than three million households across 15 countries following randomized evaluations by J-PAL affiliates.
Teaching at the Right Level to improve learning
Reorienting instruction has improved learning opportunities for over 60 million students in India and Africa.
Tutoring to accelerate learning
Research has shown that high-dosage tutoring helps students catch up. Governments and agencies across the United States are implementing tutoring programs to accelerate learning in the wake of Covid-19.
Unintended effects of anonymous resumes
The French government abandoned a policy that would have required firms to make recruitment decisions based on anonymized resumes after research showed that a voluntary, pilot scheme actually harmed minority applicants’ employment chances.
Using rigorous impact evaluation to help people find jobs
The French Public Employment Service has incorporated rigorous evidence from randomized evaluations into its decision-making processes to improve employment outcomes of job seekers throughout the country.
Enhancing Delivery through Financial Reform of MGNREGS
Using Identification Cards to Improve National Social Assistance in Indonesia
The Evidence to Policy resource page features tools for policymakers, practitioners, donors, and others interested in leveraging evidence to inform policy. These resources provide practical guidance on adapting evidence from one context to another, assessing whether a program is ready for scale, fostering a culture of evidence use within organizations, and more. View all Evidence to Policy resources.