Policy Insights in Health

J-PAL’s Health sector focuses on identifying policies and programs effective at improving the reach, quality and take-up of health services and products. Our policy insights below summarize the general lessons from randomized evaluations on topics such as pricing for essential preventive health products in lower income countries; designing information campaigns to motivate adoption of healthy behaviors; and improving health worker performance through pay-for-performance programs.
Joseph Doyle (Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)) and Karen Macours (), Health Co-Chairs
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Photo: Jonathan Torgovnik/Getty Images Reportage
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Pairing insights from engineering, public health, and behavioral science to improve access to and use of clean water

Last updated: June 2024
Low-cost, simple interventions like dilute chlorine solution or water filtration can reduce households’ use of unsafe or contaminated water—a key source of morbidity and mortality, especially among children. Full subsidies can expand access to and usage of water treatment options among households...

The effect of nudges on health insurance take-up in the United States

Last updated: April 2023
Providing nudges to individuals eligible for health insurance benefits leads to small but notable increases in insurance take-up and plan switching. Low-cost, mass-outreach campaigns are particularly cost-effective compared to more-intensive interventions.

Increasing routine child immunization coverage in low- and middle-income countries

Last updated: September 2022
Interventions that strengthen the delivery of vaccines and those that increase demand for vaccination are imperative to increasing child immunization coverage. Improved delivery can be achieved by ensuring vaccines are reliably and locally available and strengthening health worker performance, while...

Improving health worker performance through pay-for-performance programs

Last updated: July 2022
Pay-for-performance incentive programs for health care workers reward providers based on measurable performance indicators. Providing performance-based pay in addition to base pay can help to improve health provider performance on well-chosen targeted indicators relative to providing only base pay.

Strategies to increase health insurance enrollment

Last updated: May 2021
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...

The limited impact of US workplace wellness programs on health and employment-related outcomes

Last updated: September 2019
Two randomized evaluations of workplace wellness programs in the US found limited impact on employees’ health habits and no impact on their health, employment, or health care costs in the initial years, contrary to previous observational studies.

Reducing adolescent pregnancy by increasing educational and economic opportunities in low- and middle-income countries

Last updated: January 2019
Interventions that changed perceptions about girls’ abilities and opportunities or increased the educational and economic opportunities available to them encouraged girls and young women to delay pregnancy.

The impact of price on take-up and use of preventive health products

Last updated: May 2018
Charging fees for many key preventive health products dramatically reduces take-up. Preventive health products distributed for free are generally put to good use.

Additional Insights

Designing information campaigns to increase adoption of healthy behaviors

Last updated: August 2021
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...

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

Last updated: May 2020
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...

Encouraging early childhood stimulation from parents and caregivers to improve child development

Last updated: April 2020
Evidence from 11 low- and middle-income countries shows that encouraging caregivers to play and interact with children aged 0–3 in a stimulating way improves children’s cognitive development. These programs can increase the time and resources parents invest in their children’s development. However...

Sector Chairs

Co-Chair, Health

Erwin H. Schell Professor of Management

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)

Co-Chair, Health

Co-Chair, Learning for All Initiative

Sector Contacts

Headshot of Emily Blagg

Policy Manager, J-PAL Global

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Policy Associate, J-PAL Global