February 2021 Newsletter

A woman at a desk with a baby on her lap looks at her laptop screen while the baby plays
Photo: Shutterstock.com

When crises converge: Covid-19, childcare, and women’s work

The closure of schools and daycares due to Covid-19 has left billions of children without adult supervision. Shouldering even more childcare and household responsibilities than before, women uniquely face a rising crisis of unpaid care. On our blog, staff from J-PAL’s Gender and Economic Agency Initiative dive into the importance of childcare solutions to enhance women’s employment opportunities and highlight innovative research and policies addressing this burden. Read more »

First funding round seeds 14 evaluations and scale-ups at climate-poverty nexus

J-PAL’s King Climate Action Initiative recently concluded its inaugural funding competition to help generate rigorous evidence and scale solutions at the nexus of climate change and poverty alleviation. Focused on mitigation, pollution reduction, adaptation, and energy access, the 14 research and scaling projects are critical to developing a longer playbook of effective climate change programs and policies. Read more »

Using technology to tailor instruction in post-Covid classrooms

As the Covid-19 crisis widens learning gaps, Computer-Assisted Learning (CAL) technology may be one way to rebuild students’ foundational skills once schools reopen. While much of the evidence on the impacts of CAL is from high-income countries, it may also be a promising tool in low-income settings. Evidence from India indicates that this technology has the potential to deliver tailored instruction to help schools adapt to changing contexts. Read more »

Testing social policies in Europe: What are we learning?

This month, J-PAL Europe launched a review of insights from over 80 randomized evaluations of social policies and programs across 20 European countries. From fostering soft skills among schoolchildren to connecting jobseekers to quality employment, the review offers lessons for enhancing education, employment, and social inclusion in the region. Read more »

Learn more about J-PAL’s response to Covid-19


Low-tech solutions to stem learning losses during Covid-19

Inexpensive, low-technology solutions may be one way to keep students engaged with learning in the face of school closures. J-PAL affiliated professor Peter Bergman (Columbia) and coauthors rapidly evaluated a phone-based remote learning program in Botswana. Students who received SMS messages with weekly math exercises, and those who also received phone calls to review the content, had improved math skills after four weeks. Read the summary »


In summer 2020, 34 new affiliated professors joined the J-PAL network. We'll feature a few of them here each month; click through to read more about their research interests.

Guillermo Cruces
University of Nottingham

Paulina Oliva
University of Southern California

James Sullivan
University of Notre Dame


[February 23] Information Session for J-PAL North America’s State and Local Innovation Competition

The State and Local Innovation Initiative is hosting an information session on their current funding competition, which closes on April 30. Staff will provide an overview of the application process and the types of technical assistance and funding awarded to selected partners. Register »

[March 9] Shifting Gender and Social Norms to Improve Development Outcomes

The fourth webinar in the Global Evidence for Egypt Spotlight series will focus on the role of randomized evaluations in understanding how to promote gender equality in Egypt. J‑PAL affiliated professor Eliana La Ferrara (Bocconi University), President of the National Council for Women Dr. Maya Morsy, and representatives from UNICEF in Egypt will present. Register »


Enroll now in MicroMasters spring semester

The next semester of our online MicroMasters in Data, Economics, and Development Policy (DEDP) starts this week. Through a series of five online courses and in-person exams, learners will gain a strong foundation in microeconomics, development economics, and probability and statistics, while engaging with cutting-edge field research. Students who complete the full DEDP credential are eligible to apply for the blended master’s program in DEDP at MIT. Learn more and register »

Enroll now in J-PAL 101x: Evaluating Social Programs

J-PAL’s online Evaluating Social Programs course is now open! This is a free, self-paced course to learn how to use randomized evaluations to rigorously measure the impact of social programs. Through lectures from MIT faculty and J‑PAL affiliated professors, along with case studies of real randomized evaluations, participants will cover topics ranging from how to effectively measure outcomes and choose an appropriate sample size, to common threats to analysis. Learn more and register »


Covid-19-induced crises of hunger and poverty require bold, effective international response
J-PAL Blog

How poverty makes workers less productive
NPR Planet Money

A pandemic, an infodemic, and the fear of vaccination
India Development Review

Interviews: Poverty pioneers
Philanthropy Age


Comparison of Knowledge and Information-Seeking Behavior After General Covid-19 Public Health Messages and Messages Tailored for Black and Latinx Communities
Marcella Alsan, Fatima Cody Stanford, Abhijit Banerjee, Emily Breza, Arun G. Chandrasekhar, Sarah Eichmeyer, Paul Goldsmith-Pinkham, Lucy Ogbu-Nwobodo, Benjamin A. Olken, Carlos Torres, Anirudh Sankar, Pierre-Luc Vautrey, Esther Duflo

Why Do People Stay Poor?
Clare Balboni, Oriana Bandiera, Robin Burgess, Maitreesh Ghatak, Anton Heil

Information Delivery Channels and Agricultural Technology Uptake: Experimental Evidence from Ghana
Fred Mawunyo Dzanku, Robert Darko Osei, Paul Kwame Nkegbe, Isaac Osei-Akoto

Mandatory Integration Agreements for Unemployed Job Seekers: A Randomized Controlled Field Experiment in Germany
Gerard J. van den Berg, Barbara Hofmann, Gesine Stephan, Arne Uhlendorff