Political Economy and Governance

J-PAL’s Political Economy and Governance sector works to identify policies and programs that improve service delivery and make governments more responsive to citizens’ needs. Research and policy outreach focuses on increasing citizens’ political participation, reducing corruption and leakages, and building state capacity to deliver services.

Governments around the world spend billions of dollars every year to provide citizens with basic services. But the effectiveness of public spending can be compromised by policies that do not reflect the needs or wishes of citizens, losses and inefficiencies due to corruption, limited oversight of public spending, and poor performance of civil servants.

J-PAL affiliates' research in this sector includes studies on how to increase political participation and hold politicians more accountable to citizens, how to reduce corruption in service delivery, and how to use recruitment, monitoring, and incentives to improve government performance.

In addition to supporting policymakers in applying evidence from randomized evaluations to their work, J-PAL’s Political Economy and Governance sector chairs and staff write policy insights that synthesize general lessons emerging from the research, condense results from evaluations in policy publications and evaluation summaries, and fund new research through the Governance Initiative to answer critical policy-relevant questions. 

A woman opens her mail while sitting in a chair
Policy Insight

Improving tax compliance through reminder messages for taxpayers

Sending tax reminder messages to taxpayers is a cost-effective strategy to increase short-term tax compliance. Governments looking to improve tax compliance should invest in sending simple deterrence-framed messages to taxpayers.

man conducting an audit
Policy Insight

Increasing accountability and reducing corruption through government audits

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...

A world map with dots noting locations of GCCI projects.

Pushing the boundaries of governance, crime, and conflict research: Innovations in research, measurement, and design

In 2017, J-PAL and IPA jointly launched the Governance, Crime, and Conflict Initiative to increase our understanding of effective policies to promote peace and good governance, reduce crime, and support individuals and communities recovering from conflict. With three years of research behind us, we...

Political posters in India
Policy Insight

Improving women’s representation in politics through gender quotas

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.

Many files stacked next to each other, with a date reading 2011.
Evidence to Policy

Information and mediation to improve labor courts

The Government of Mexico used insights from a randomized evaluation to inform a national labor law.

Participants attended a leadership training workshop.

Nudging Good Politicians in the Philippines

Researchers conducted a randomized evaluation to test the impact of an all-expense-paid three-day leadership training workshop on incentivizing honest and competent youth to run for a village youth council. 

A doctor examines the eyes of a child held by his mother in rural Nigeria.

Pay for Perfomance Incentives for Heathcare Workers and Their Supervisors in Sierra Leone

Working with the Ministry of Health and Sanitation in Sierra Leone, researchers evaluated the impact of incentivizing community health workers (CHWs), their supervisors, or both on health care provision. Sharing the incentive between CHWs and their supervisors resulted in more health care visits...

Improving third-party pollution audits in Gujarat
Evidence to Policy

Strengthening third-party audits to reduce pollution

Evidence from a randomized evaluation informed the scale-up of a pollution audit policy in Gujarat, India.

Sector Chairs

Co-Líder, Political Economy and Governance

Professor of Economics

University of California, Berkeley

Co-Líder, Political Economy and Governance

Professor of Economics and Director of Economic Growth Center

Yale University