Evidence from randomized evaluations is changing how we understand and address problems related to poverty. Policymakers, practitioners, and funders worldwide are increasingly applying this learning to social policies and programs.
Over 600 million people have been reached by programs and policies that have been informed by evaluations by J-PAL affiliated researchers. Many more have benefitted from the several broader ways evidence can inform policy, outlined below.
Well-designed randomized evaluations test theories and provide general insights about how programs designed to address poverty work. These insights, when combined with descriptive data and a deep understanding of the local context and institutions, provide useful guides for policy design. Strong partnerships between implementers, researchers, and donors are critical to leveraging evidence to inform policy.
Pathways to Policy Change
J-PAL staff and affiliates contributed to the creation of the Office of Evaluation Sciences (OES) to improve the capacity of US federal agencies to build and use rigorous evidence and continue to partner with OES to aid this mission.
With support from J-PAL and IPA, the Ministry of Education in Peru created a dedicated unit to identify, test, and scale low-cost interventions to improve educational outcomes.
Researchers applied insights from earlier Covid-19 messaging research to launch a large-scale Facebook messaging campaign and corresponding evaluation reaching more than 35 million people.
Innovative safe drinking water technology has reached 4 million people in Kenya, Malawi, and Uganda.
Using community targeting methods to distribute cash transfers during Covid-19 has provided relief to over eight million recipients previously unenrolled in any social protection program in Indonesia.
J-PAL affiliated researchers supported the Government of Chile in designing a cash transfer program during the Covid-19 pandemic, which reached over 3 million households.
After research found that school-based distribution of deworming pills in areas with high infection rates boosted health and school attendance, the approach has been scaled to reach over 280 million children in 2019.
Evidence from randomized evaluations played a role in shifting global opinion to support free distribution of key preventive health products.
Central and state governments in India have adopted a financial reform to enhance public service delivery informed by evidence.
GiveDirectly has expanded its cash transfer program, which was found in a randomized evaluation to have improved economic and psychological well-being in Kenya, to reach over 125,000 households in rural Kenya, Rwanda, and Uganda since 2013.
A performance-incentivized community grant program shown to accelerate improvements in health reached about 4.9 million people from 2010 to 2018 and generated important lessons for future programs to reduce childhood stunting in Indonesia.
Saga Education’s intensive math tutoring program has been shown to improve academic outcomes and has now reached 12,000 students facing barriers in the United States.
Evidence from a randomized evaluation and cost-effectiveness analysis led the Chilean government to expand a consumer information campaign to protect at-risk marine species.
The Government of Mexico used insights from a randomized evaluation to inform a national labor law.
A long-standing partnership between the Government of Tamil Nadu and J-PAL in India has helped institutionalize the use of evidence in decision making and build a culture of evidence-informed policymaking.
Based on evidence that biometric monitoring technology did not increase doctors' attendance at primary health centers, the government of Karnataka decided to end the program, saving taxpayers millions of dollars.
The Health Department of the government of Sindh, Pakistan used rigorous evidence from a randomized evaluation to support the scale-up of an incentive program to increase routine childhood immunization coverage and timeliness.
A community-level mask distribution and promotion program tripled mask usage in Bangladesh and is now being scaled up in multiple countries, reaching almost 14 million people in South Asia so far.
The French Ministry of Education has expanded a parental involvement program to all public schools in the country on a voluntary basis.
Precision Agriculture for Development leveraged findings from two randomized evaluations to create and diffuse a new mobile-phone based model for agricultural extension.
Evidence from a flagship randomized evaluation in the United States prompted legislative and administrative changes to expand housing choice for low-income families.
After research found that providing families with information on school quality increased Housing Choice Voucher recipients’ moves to neighborhoods with higher-rated schools, an affordable housing website expanded the provision of school quality information to all of its 60,000 daily site users.
Following an evaluation in California testing variations of reminder letters to low-income households to increase take-up of tax credits, the US tax agency scaled up nationally the use of reminders that simply and prominently displayed potential benefits.
Training in soft skills for police in Rajasthan, India improved public perceptions of their performance.
Evidence from a randomized evaluation informed the scale-up of a pollution audit policy in Gujarat, India.
Government scale-up improves access to targeted social programs for 65.67 million people.
A multifaceted livelihood program has reached and improved the standard of living for more than three million households across 15 countries following randomized evaluations by J-PAL affiliates.
Reorienting instruction has improved learning opportunities for over 60 million students in India and Africa.
Research has shown that high-dosage tutoring helps students catch up. Governments and agencies across the United States are implementing tutoring programs to accelerate learning in the wake of Covid-19.
The French government abandoned a policy that would have required firms to make recruitment decisions based on anonymized resumes after research showed that a voluntary, pilot scheme actually harmed minority applicants’ employment chances.
The French Public Employment Service has incorporated rigorous evidence from randomized evaluations into its decision-making processes to improve employment outcomes of job seekers throughout the country.
Enhancing Delivery through Financial Reform of MGNREGS
Using Identification Cards to Improve National Social Assistance in Indonesia
The Evidence to Policy resource page features tools for policymakers, practitioners, donors, and others interested in leveraging evidence to inform policy. These resources provide practical guidance on adapting evidence from one context to another, assessing whether a program is ready for scale, fostering a culture of evidence use within organizations, and more. View all Evidence to Policy resources.