April 2024 J-PAL LAC Quarterly Newsletter

Researchers Jeanne Lafortune and Francisco Gallego smile
Photo credit: UC Chile

Welcome to Jeanne Lafortune as co-scientific director of J-PAL LAC

J-PAL Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) has recently had some transitions in its scientific directors' team. After seven years of impactful service, Claudio Ferraz (University of British Columbia and PUC-Rio) has left his position as co‑scientific director, and Jeanne Lafortune (UC Chile) has joined as co-scientific director. Francisco Gallego (UC Chile) is continuing as co-scientific director.

We thank Claudio for his leadership and continued scientific advice to create a culture of evidence in the region over the last seven years. Together with co-scientific director Francisco, he assisted in the expansion of J-PAL LAC’s research, public policy, and training work. His scientific guidance was key to establishing J-PAL’s permanent presence in Brazil and the launch of the Jobs and Opportunities Initiative (JOI) Brazil, and his research has been influential in creating a culture of evidence in the region. 

Sharing her new position with fellow UC academic Francisco, Jeanne will oversee the office's regional strategy, explore new research areas, launch initiatives, and enhance collaborations with researchers across the region. A J-PAL affiliated professor since 2013, Jeanne's pioneering research has helped in developing strategies to increase women's participation in the labor market. 

Her leadership will further J-PAL LAC's mission of employing evidence-based research to address critical challenges in Latin America and the Caribbean. Stay tuned for the innovative directions and collaborations Jeanne will bring to her new role, and learn more about her work here »


Exchanging tutoring program experiences with academia, civil society, and government in Chile

On March 12, J-PAL LAC and the UC Public Policy Center co-hosted a seminar to reflect on school tutoring as a strategy to address current educational challenges. J-PAL affiliated professors Michela Carlana (Harvard) and Francisco Gallego (UC Chile; Co-Scientific Director, J-PAL LAC) shared their experiences researching school tutoring. The seminar brought together government, civil society, and academia representatives to exchange lessons on the importance of tutoring in accelerating education outcomes. Watch the recording in Spanish »

Welcoming a government delegation from Córdoba, Argentina

On March 21–22, the Minister of Education of the Government of Córdoba, Argentina, Horacio Ademar Ferreyra, and the Secretary of Economic Policy of the Ministry of Economy and Public Management of the Government of Córdoba, Andrés Michel, visited J-PAL LAC in Chile. We shared our experience supporting governments to institutionalize the use of evidence and organized meetings with Chile’s Ministries of Social Development and Education to discuss how governments can leverage data and evidence for better policymaking. Learn more about government partnerships in LAC »


Improving livelihoods in Central America with the Cotopaxi Foundation

Thanks to the generous support of the Cotopaxi Foundation, we launched a new project, “Strengthening Livelihoods in Central America Through Evidence Use.” The project’s goal is to help people unlock their full potential throughout different stages of life by addressing early childhood development, education, and economic agency. The project will build on our previous work developing capacities for evidence generation and use evidence when promoting women's agency in the region. Now, we will expand this work while keeping a cross-cutting gender lens. Read more »


Strengthening networks in Guatemala

In March, J-PAL LAC and Universidad del Valle de Guatemala (UVG) hosted an event with researchers from several universities in the country who work on early childhood in different disciplines. We presented our joint project with UVG, PROSA, which seeks to promote early childhood development (ECD), and exchanged ideas about collaboration opportunities. In April, we carried out an incubator workshop for social organizations working in ECD to strengthen their technical knowledge of impact evaluations. These meetings are part of the PROSA’s mission to catalyze the use of evidence and evaluations of innovative ECD programs. Learn more about PROSA »

Scaling a promising, cost-effective early childhood digital program in Peru

In 2017, we partnered with Innovations for Poverty Action Peru and the Peruvian civil association Aporta to promote the use of data and evidence in early childhood development programs. Over the years, this collaboration has helped promote a culture of evidence within Aporta and develop a digital program that is being implemented and evaluated in Peru. Learn how the partnership was crucial for bringing together key actors and achieving success.  Read the blog post »


Addressing the relationship between stigmas related to place of residence and the Brazilian labor market

In March, J-PAL LAC's Jobs and Opportunity Initiative (JOI) Brazil held an event at Insper (São Paulo) on stigma, discrimination, and their impact on the job market, with a presentation by Ieda Matavelli on her JOI Brazil-funded research. Contributions also came from teams at LabJaca and Juventudes Potentes, with insights from iFood's head economist. JOI Brazil Manager Edivaldo Constantino and J-PAL LAC Policy Manager Ariana Britto led a discussion on how understanding discrimination and stigma can help companies create a more inclusive job market. Learn more about JOI Brazil's work »


Scaling climate solutions: Insights from K-CAI

J-PAL's King Climate Action Initiative (K-CAI) supports pilot studies, randomized evaluations, and scaling projects at the nexus of climate change and poverty alleviation. Over the years, the initiative has generated evidence that has informed real-world policy design and implementation, including the ongoing scaling of five policies and programs that cut emissions and/or enhance resilience. Dive into these scaling stories, as well as insights for future forest protection programs in LAC, and explore the potential of evidence-driven climate action in this blog post »


[Published paper] Helping Children Catch Up: Early Life Shocks and the PROGRESA Experiment

Achyuta Adhvaryu, Teresa Molina, Anant Nyshadham, and Jorge Tamayo. The Economic Journal, January 2024. Read the full paper » 

[Published paper] Private Sector Provision as an “Escape Valve”: The Mexico Diabetes Experiment 

Ari Bronsoler, Jonathan Gruber, and Enrique Seira. The Review of Economic Studies, March 2024. Read the full paper »

[Published paper] What’s Behind Her Smile? Health, Looks, and Self-Esteem

Francisco A. Gallego, Cristian Larroulet Philippi, and Andrea Repetto. American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, April 2024. Read the full paper »

[Published paper] Information and Bargaining through Agents: Experimental Evidence from Mexico’s Labour Courts

Joyce Sadka, Enrique Seira, and Christopher Woodruff. The Review of Economic Studies, February 2024. Read the full paper »

[New working paper] When Emotion Regulation Matters: The Efficacy of Socio-Emotional Learning to Address School-Based Violence in Central America

Lelys Dinarte, Pablo Egana-delSol, Claudia Martinez A., and Cindy Rojas A.. Working Paper, February 2024. Read the full paper »

[New working paper] Redesigning Payments for Ecosystem Services to Increase Cost-Effectiveness

Santiago Izquierdo-Tort, Seema Jayachandran, and Santiago Saavedra. Working Paper, January 2024. Read the full paper »

[New working paper] Disability Employment Quotas: Effects of Laws and Nudges

Suzanne Duryea, Claudia Martínez, and Raimundo Smith. Working Paper, January 2024. Read the full paper »

[New evaluation] Local Infrastructure and the Development of the Private Sector: Evidence from a Randomized Trial

Daniel Rogger, Leonardo Iacovone, Luis F. Sánchez-Bayardo, and Craig McIntosh. Working Paper, December 2023. Read the full paper »


[Due May 21] Scholarships for Brazilian students for the MicroMasters in Data, Economics, and Design of Policy

The MicroMasters Program in Data, Economics, and Design of Policy (DEDP), offered by J-PAL and MITx, is an online program that aims to train global leaders to fight poverty through evidence. Classes feature MIT Economics faculty and cover subjects such as microeconomics, data analysis, political economy, and development policy. All are available for free to audit, and you can also pay a fee to take a proctored exam and obtain certificates. Through Fundação Lemann, Brazilian students can apply for full scholarships if they need financial support. The next term starts May 14 and the scholarship application deadline is May 21. Sign up for courses and apply for a scholarship »


INSPER highlighted their successful three-year partnership with J-PAL LAC by writing about the recent event held on their campus by JOI Brazil on stigma and discrimination in the Brazilian job market. Read more in Portuguese »

The Instituto de Economía UC and the UC Public Policy Center summarized the international seminar on education where J-PAL affiliate Michela Carlana and J-PAL LAC co-scientific director and J-PAL affiliate Francisco Gallego shared evidence and experiences on implementing tutoring programs and activities. Read more in Spanish from  Instituto de Economía UC and the UC Public Policy Center »

The Instituto de Economía UC congratulated J-PAL affiliate and UC Chile professor Jeanne Lafortune as co-scientific director of J-PAL LAC. Read more in Spanish » 

The Instituto de Economía UC remarked on the most transcendent moments of the graduation ceremony of the seventh cohort of the Diploma in Impact Evaluation of Public Programs and Policies. Read more in Spanish »

Universidad del Valle de Guatemala (UVG) highlighted PROSA’s training course on the use and application of evidence, the first program launched by the J-PAL and UVG partnership. Read more in Spanish »


A new diverse cohort joined the J-PAL/UC Diploma in Impact Evaluation graduate network

In January, a new class graduated from the Diploma in Impact Evaluation of Public Policies and Social Programs, which we co-organize with the Instituto de Economía of the Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile . They are now part of a vibrant network of professionals with the tools to design and understand the results of rigorous program evaluations. Watch the graduation ceremony and learn more about the class and how the vibrant network of the Diploma program expands its reach every day. Read the blog post »

J-PAL LAC’s executive director had meetings in Mexico to expand government partnerships

In January, Paula Pedro, the executive director of J-PAL LAC, was in Mexico to consolidate strategic partnerships with the Mexican government. She attended an executive gathering with the National Workers' Housing Fund Institute to promote greater use of rigorous evidence for decision-making in the organization. She also met the National Council for the Evaluation of Social Development Policy leadership team to strengthen evaluation capacities in the public sector and civil society organizations.

Esther Duflo participates in a conference organized by the Development Bank of Latin America and the Caribbean (CAF)

On February 1, Esther Duflo (MIT; Director, J-PAL; Scientific Director, J-PAL South Asia) delivered a presentation on poverty reduction and development economics during a conference organized by CAF in Panama City. The event sought to identify challenges and propose regional solutions to pressing global problems, relying on allies from the public and private sectors as well as civil society. The thematic and sectoral focuses of the conference were a reflection of the crucial challenges facing the region. Watch the event and Esther's speech »

JOI Brazil delivered theory of change lessons for Itaú Social´s advanced course

In February, J-PAL LAC Executive Director Paula Pedro, JOI Brazil Manager Edivaldo Constantino, and Finance and Operations Associate Giordano Martinelli designed and taught a module focused on theory of change for Itaú Social. This was part of a 6-month program for graduate students and professionals interested in the theory and practice of evaluations. This is the third consecutive year that J-PAL LAC has taught this course.

Deepening public policy knowledge at at Universidade Federal Fluminense

In March, J-PAL LAC Policy Manager Ariana Britto taught a course for master's and doctoral students at the Universidade Federal Fluminense (UFF) Economics Postgraduate Program. Recognized for its inclusivity of Black and/or low-income students in the field of economics in Brazil, the UFF economics course aimed to deepen students' understanding of J-PAL, its work, and the field of public policy evaluation.

Workshop: "Fostering a Culture of Evidence-Informed Policymaking"

In March, J-PAL LAC's Jobs and Opportunity Initiative (JOI) Brazil offered a workshop to key collaborator Inter-American Development Bank, covering topics such as theory of change, promising projects, and challenges in policy design and implementation. The goal was to collectively outline a roadmap for future efforts. Notable participants included Mirela de Carvalho, deputy secretary of monitoring and evaluation at the Ministry of Planning and Budget; Virgílio Pires, tax auditor at the Ministry of Labor; and Francisco Gallego, co-scientific director of J-PAL LAC.