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.

Political posters in India

Improving women’s representation in politics through gender quotas

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Gender quotas for women in local government bodies can improve women’s representation in politics, increase provision of public services, and improve perceptions of women as leaders.

Microcredit: impacts and limitations

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Evidence from randomized evaluations in low- and middle-income countries shows that giving small loans in the form of microcredit did not lead to transformative impacts on income or long-term consumption on average, but it did help households better manage financial choices. Demand for many of the...

Increasing enrollment and attendance by making education benefits salient and changing perceptions

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Interventions that address perception gaps about the benefits of education or make the benefits more salient can increase student participation at low cost. In contrast, increases in the quality of education can be difficult for parents to accurately perceive and thus do not necessarily lead to...
Women processing fruit in baskets

Credit's limited impact on smallholder farm profitability

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Increasing access to traditional microcredit has had limited impacts on smallholder farmers’ profitability in randomized evaluations in developing countries. Demand for new offers of credit was low, ranging from 17 to 33 percent, and even when farmers used traditional credit products to invest in...
Job seekers work on their applications

Reducing search barriers for job seekers

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Programs focused on reducing job search barriers often improve job seekers’ employment outcomes. These programs can help job seekers identify where and how to look for jobs, encourage increased search effort, and help communicate qualifications to employers.
Electricity meters track residential energy use. Photo: Shutterstock.com

Reducing energy and water use through information and social comparisons

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Providing people with information about their energy or water use compared to their neighbors and tips about how to conserve consistently reduced consumption by small amounts in many contexts.
 étudiants

Increasing college access by making the application process easier

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Relatively low-cost programs to simplify the college application process and support students through this transition can increase college enrollment and persistence in the United States and Canada. Personalized assistance, timely reminders, and fee waivers were key components of effective programs.
Students work on white board

Charter schools and student learning

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In the United States, the estimated impacts of charter schools have varied widely. In Massachusetts, students who won lotteries for charter schools located in urban areas often did substantially better than students who lost; while students who won lotteries for charter schools in nonurban areas...