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.

Improving student learning: impacts by gender

Improving student learning: Impacts by gender

Last updated:
Most programs to improve student learning have similar impacts on girls and boys. However, policymakers should consider potential different effects by gender while designing programs since, in some cases, program design choices led to different impacts on girls and boys.
Job seekers work on their applications

Reducing search barriers for job seekers

Last updated:
Programs focused on reducing job search barriers often improve job seekers’ employment outcomes. These programs can help job seekers increase their search effort, identify where and how to look for jobs, surmount geographic and financial obstacles to finding a job, and communicate qualifications to...
green watermelons being sold in open air market in Vietnam

Incentivizing higher-quality agricultural outputs

Last updated:
Despite making investments in technologies and practices to improve the quality of their products, smallholder farmers in low- and middle-income countries do not often receive higher prices for their higher-quality agricultural goods. Disorganized markets with many intermediaries may make quality...
Several African young people sit in front of a television to watch an education program on sexually transmitted diseases.

Designing information campaigns to increase adoption of healthy behaviors

Last updated:
Accurate information can help people determine which behaviors lead to improved health outcomes, but information alone is not necessarily sufficient to motivate adoption of these behaviors. When the primary barrier to the adoption of a healthy behavior is lack of awareness, information that is...
Women talking in front of computers

Strategies to increase health insurance enrollment

Last updated:
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

Last updated:
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

Last updated:
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

Last updated:
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...