Policy Insights

What have we learned from randomized evaluations that policymakers, practitioners, and funders can use to improve social programs? J-PAL’s Policy Insights, organized by sector, highlight lessons emerging across multiple studies and the mechanisms that help explain the results.

J-PAL’s Sector Chairs and staff draw these insights from relevant randomized evaluations, updating and adding insights as the body of evidence grows. Each Policy Insight briefly summarizes their perspective on the evidence on a specific topic, with links to the original research and policy summaries. Read this blog post for more information about how we develop Policy Insights.

When combined with a detailed understanding of context and program implementation, we hope these insights can be practical inputs for policy and program design. For examples of how insights from randomized evaluations have informed policy, visit our Evidence to Policy page.

Women talking in front of computers

Strategies to increase health insurance enrollment

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A variety of interventions to either reduce costs or increase awareness of benefits can increase health insurance adoption. The value of health insurance can be difficult to evaluate before purchasing, so giving individuals an opportunity to experience insurance coverage is important for influencing...
Woman in Ghana stands in front of her roadside restaurant preparing food

Designing financial services and social protection programs to enhance women’s economic empowerment

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Providing women in low- and middle-income countries with financial resources or financial services did not consistently lead to economic empowerment if women were unable to maintain control over the use of funds within their households. Financial inclusion and social protection programs should...
Women using a cookstove in India. Photo: Thomas Chupein | J-PAL/IPA

Biomass cookstoves to reduce indoor air pollution and fuel use

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Despite their positive results in the lab, biomass cookstoves designed to reduce smoke exposure and/or increase fuel efficiency did not substantially improve health in several randomized evaluations in the real world. Many people did not want to buy or maintain them, did not use them enough, and...
man conducting an audit

Increasing accountability and reducing corruption through government audits

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Government audits have often increased political accountability, reduced misuse of public resources, and improved compliance with laws and regulations. In lower- and middle-income countries, audits have been more effective when the government had a stronger capacity to enforce punishments, when...
Man and woman using an ATM machine

Reducing the costs of saving

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High costs associated with formal bank accounts are often cited as a key obstacle for low-income households to save in formal financial institutions, but lowering the cost of savings does not consistently increase savings flows, likely due to a multitude of other barriers. Given the positive welfare...
parent child digital report

Providing information to students and parents to improve learning outcomes

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Giving parents and students information about their educational performance or options often increases parental engagement, student effort, or both, leading to improved learning outcomes. Providing information is also typically a low-cost intervention.
students in China taking an exam

Improving learning outcomes through school-based health programs

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Around the world, learning levels remain low and therefore a priority area for improvement. A key barrier to participation and learning in school is student health, especially in low- and middle-income countries. However, due to a lack of coordination between health and education departments, the...
Cash transfer in Kenya

Using cash transfers to improve child health in low- and middle-income countries

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Cash transfer programs conditional on the use of health products and services generally increase uptake and improve child health outcomes among households that receive them. Cash transfers that increase uptake of healthy behaviors in the short term can improve cognition and educational outcomes in...