April 2024 Newsletter

WAE Lab Scientific Advisor Kelsey Jack (UC Santa Barbara), J-PAL Co-Founder and Co-Director Esther Duflo (MIT) and Executive Mayor of the City of Cape Town Geordin Hill-Lewis at the Launching the Water, Air, and Energy Lab event in the City of Cape Town.
WAE Lab Scientific Advisor Kelsey Jack (UC Santa Barbara), J-PAL Co-Founder and Co-Director Esther Duflo (MIT) and Executive Mayor of the City of Cape Town Geordin Hill-Lewis at the Launching the Water, Air, and Energy Lab event in the City of Cape Town.
Photo credit: Bruce Sutherland, City of Cape Town

Launching the Water, Air, and Energy Lab with the City of Cape Town

Learn more about J-PAL’s newest Air and Water Lab

J-PAL Africa at the University of Cape Town, Community Jameel, and the City of Cape Town recently launched the Water, Air, and Energy (WAE) Lab, dedicated to clean air, water, and reliable energy for Capetonians. As part of J-PAL and Community Jameel’s worldwide Air and Water Labs, the lab will foster collaboration between local policymakers and researchers to conduct randomized evaluations and inform the scaling of evidence-based programs and policies.

The WAE Lab was launched at an event featuring remarks from the mayor of Cape Town and members of J-PAL’s and Community Jameel’s leadership team, among other distinguished speakers.

Read about the launch »

Watch the event »

New Policy Insight

Preventing crime and violence through behavior change

In a new Policy Insight, J-PAL’s Crime, Violence, and Conflict sector summarizes evidence from eight experimental and quasi-experimental evaluations in Canada, El Salvador, Liberia, and the United States of behavior change interventions designed to reduce criminal, violent, and antisocial behaviors.

Policy Issue: A growing number of crime and violence prevention programs are adapting low-cost behavior change techniques, such as cognitive behavioral therapy, to shift people’s thinking and decision-making. These interventions are typically designed to help participants enhance their emotional regulation, rethink their default assumptions, consider alternative perspectives, and improve their decision-making.

Results: Crime and violence prevention programs that draw on behavior change techniques to address cognitive biases in decision-making have been effective in reducing criminal, violent, and antisocial behaviors. In some cases, these interventions demonstrated the strongest impacts among the most antisocial individuals, suggesting that targeting is essential. These interventions offer a cost-effective alternative to traditional security sector interventions for crime and violence prevention.

Read more »

J-PAL affiliated researchers featured at Nobel in Africa Symposium

📍Cape Town, South Africa

Last month, the Stellenbosch Institute for Advanced Study hosted its third annual Nobel in Africa Symposium to support and showcase advanced research and scholarship on the African continent. The Economic Sciences series convened leading economists to take stock of existing knowledge on poverty alleviation and economic growth and share insights on how to meet urgent challenges. The event recordings offer new perspectives on how many J-PAL affiliated researchers are advancing research breakthroughs across the continent. Watch the presentations »


Using artificial intelligence to expand financial inclusion


In many low- and middle-income countries, lack of collateral and credit history create significant challenges for micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) seeking credit. In response, firms have developed innovative credit scoring (ICS) methods that use artificial intelligence to help banks and peer-to-peer lenders predict potential borrowers’ credit risk. In a new blog post, Maria Sarah (Policy Associate, J-PAL Southeast Asia) explores the opportunities and challenges of ICS in Indonesia and highlights key research areas to guide its development. Read more »

Scaling a promising, cost-effective early childhood development program


Since 2017, Innovations for Poverty Action Peru and J-PAL Latin America and the Caribbean have partnered with the Peruvian civil association Aporta to promote the use of data and evidence within Aporta’s early childhood development (ECD) programs. In a recent blog post, Fabiola Cáceres (formerly Manager of Innovation and Social Impact, Aporta) explains how this partnership has been vital for bringing together key actors to design and adapt effective programs and prepare them for scale. After seven years of collaboration, the Government of Peru and other partners are nationally piloting one of these programs, which seeks to cost-effectively promote ECD and strengthen caregivers’ capacities through digital platforms. Read more »


In summer 2023, 33 talented researchers joined the J-PAL network. We feature a few of them here each month.

Sylvain Chassang
Princeton University 

Diana Moreira
University of California, Davis 

Olga Stoddard
Brigham Young University


WATCH: Scaling up the Graduation approach in Bihar, India 

The Graduation approach, developed by BRAC, is a multifaceted anti-poverty program targeted at helping the most economically disadvantaged households become self-sufficient through business training, life-skills coaching, and short-term financial support. Since 2018, J-PAL South Asia, with the Government of Bihar’s Rural Livelihoods Promotion Society and NGO Bandhan-Konnagar, have been implementing and scaling up the Government of Bihar’s Graduation program, Satat Jeevikoparjan Yojana (SJY). Learn how SJY has benefited 162,000 women-headed households in Bihar, and hear about plans to expand to 200,000 households. Watch the video »


J-PAL MENA Scholars Fellowship accepting applications for its second cohort 

🗓️ Applications due April 30

The J-PAL Middle East and North Africa (MENA) Scholars Fellowship creates a pathway for MENA-based researchers to build skills for designing and conducting randomized evaluations of poverty reduction and social development policies and programs. Through two years of rigorous academic coursework, active participation in J-PAL MENA’s projects, mentorship, and professional development, early-stage researchers will gain experience in conducting randomized evaluations and contribute to locally-driven research agendas. Read more and apply »

Webinar, Scholarships, and Open Enrollment for the DEDP MicroMasters Program

🗓️ April 30

Enrollment is open for the online MicroMasters program in Data, Economics, and Design of Policy (DEDP) and courses start on May 14. The program offers master’s level courses that cover a range of topics, including microeconomics, randomized evaluations, data analysis, and development policy. Participants who complete the program are eligible to apply for the on-campus Master’s in DEDP at MIT or pursue an accelerated degree at one of our pathway universities upon completion of the program. 

Curious to learn more? The DEDP team will discuss scholarships and important dates, and answer questions live at our webinar on April 30 »

Development Methodologies Summer School in Rabat, Morocco

🗓️ July 2–5

In partnership with the French Development Agency, the Fund for Innovation in Development, and the Mohammed VI Polytechnic University, J-PAL Europe is organizing the fourth edition of its francophone summer school during the first week of July in Rabat, Morocco. The French-language summer school combines two tracks: an academic module for African researchers who seek to incorporate impact evaluation methods into their research and an incubator for project implementers interested in rigorously evaluating one of their interventions. Applications for the academic module close on April 28. Learn more and apply »

Evaluating Social Programs: Register now for course offering in Accra, Ghana 

🗓️ August 19–23

Join us for one of J-PAL’s in-person Evaluating Social Programs courses to delve into the practical aspects of how to rigorously assess the impact of your programs. Applications are still open for this year's course in Africa, held at the Ghana Institute for Management and Public Administration. Tailored to decision-makers involved in programs and policies across the continent, this five-day course covers a diverse range of topics including labor, gender, finance, and governance. Don't miss out—applications close on May 19. Learn more and apply »


Curiosity Unbounded: Hard facts on soft skills [Podcast]
MIT News

For its women, India must embrace science in policing [Opinion] 
Hindustan Times

Abhijit Banerjee, Nobel Prize in Economics: ‘There are important things that cannot be solved just with a money transfer’
El País

UCT hosts Nobel Laureate for lecture on universal basic income in the developing world
University of Cape Town News

MoRD inks pact with J-PAL South Asia for driving women-led development
ETV Bharat


The Potential of Recommender Systems for Directing Job Search: A Large-Scale Experiment
Luc Behaghel, Sofia Dromundo, Marc Gurgand, Yagan Hazard, and Thomas Zuber

Experimental Evidence on Four Policies to Increase Learning at Scale
Annie Duflo, Jessica Kiessel, and Adrienne M. Lucas 

Machine Learning Detects Heterogeneous Effects of Medicaid Coverage on Depression
Ryunosuke Goto, Kosuke Inoue, Itsuki Osawa, Katherine Baicker, Scott L. Fleming, and Yusuke Tsugawa

Incentives and Endorsement for Technology Adoption: Evidence from Mobile Banking in Ghana
Emma Riley, Abu Shonchoy, and Robert Darko Osei