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.

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.
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.
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...

Agricultural information and extension services

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Agricultural information and extension services in developing countries can be improved by adapting the pedagogical model, using information and communications technology (ICT) to reach farmers directly with more tailored and timely information, incentivizing trainers based on learning outcomes, and...

Reducing costs to increase school participation

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Programs that reduce the costs of education increase student enrollment and attendance. However, there is considerable variation in the cost effectiveness of different programs.
Young men participate in an activity for the Becoming a Man program in Chicago. Photo: Rob Kozloff | University of Chicago

Reducing criminal behavior through cognitive behavioral therapy

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Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) can reduce criminal behavior among both at-risk youth and criminally engaged men, likely by helping them focus more on the future, change their self-perceptions, and/or slow their decision-making.
People holding goats by leashes

Building stable livelihoods for the ultra-poor

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A multifaceted livelihood program that provided ultra-poor households in seven low- and middle-income countries with a productive asset, training, regular coaching, access to savings, and consumption support led to large and lasting impacts on their standard of living.
Farmers in a field

Protecting farmers from weather-based risk

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Weather index insurance protects farmers against losses due to extreme weather and facilitates investments in their farms, but low demand for these products at market prices suggests the need for alternative approaches to protecting farmers from weather-based risk in developing countries.