July 2021 Newsletter

Man has blood pressure checked before receiving Covid-19 vaccine
Photo: Toto Santiko Budi | Shutterstock.com

New op-ed: If we can vaccinate the world, we can beat the climate crisis

In a new op-ed in The Guardian, Abhijit Banerjee (MIT; Director, J‑PAL; Scientific Director, J-PAL Europe) and Esther Duflo (MIT; Director, J‑PAL; Scientific Director, J-PAL South Asia) argue that deeply unequal access to vaccines is diminishing trust in high-income countries to meet other promises, like reducing emissions and providing support to low- and middle-income countries to mitigate and adapt to a changing climate. Because addressing both require global cooperation, this lack of trust threatens global efforts to address climate change and the success of the COP26 climate conference later this year. Successfully vaccinating the world, they claim, “is our chance to show that the talk of a common community and a shared destiny is more than just words.” Read more »

Sara Fisher Ellison named new faculty director of Data, Economics, and Development Policy (DEDP) program

Sara Fisher Ellison, a senior lecturer in MIT’s Department of Economics, joined MIT in 1995 and has developed and taught many courses in economics and statistics, including the popular DEDP course Data Analysis for Social Scientists. She will play an active role in upholding the standard of excellence of the DEDP program by guiding course updates and the creation of new courses, mentoring students, and advising the team that manages the program.

More than 40,000 learners from 180 countries have enrolled in online DEDP courses, and the second cohort of in-person students recently concluded their classes on MIT’s campus in Cambridge. Interested in working with Sara and this team? Apply for the new Education Manager or Senior Education Manager positions at J-PAL. Learn more »

Affiliate Q&A: Addressing education inequalities in Italy through online tutoring

Following the shift to remote learning due to the Covid-19 pandemic, J-PAL affiliated professors Michela Carlana (Harvard) and Eliana La Ferrara (Bocconi) rapidly launched the Tutoring Online Project (TOP)—an online tutoring program designed to help students from disadvantaged backgrounds who were lagging behind. In a recent interview, Michela shares how the idea for TOP came about, insights on initial results, and plans for evaluating and scaling in Italy and beyond. Read more »

Emerging lessons on preventing conflict and violence

Since launching in 2017, J-PAL and Innovations for Poverty Action’s joint Governance, Crime, and Conflict Initiative (GCCI) has synthesized policy lessons from randomized evaluations on topics ranging from policing to peacebuilding. GCCI recently launched a second edition of its Evidence Wrap-Up, which reviews evidence on strengthening justice systems, combating violence against women, and more. Read more »

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


Improved targeting to combat Covid-19-induced poverty in Indonesia

Social protection programs can provide critical support to those suffering from the adverse economic impacts of the Covid-19 crisis, but quickly and accurately identifying those in need can be difficult. A new Evidence to Policy case study illustrates how the Government of Indonesia leveraged existing research on community targeting methods to better target cash transfers, which reached over 8 million recipients in 2020. Read more »


Stepping up to combat diabetes in urban areas

Lifestyle diseases, like diabetes, are becoming more prevalent worldwide. While certain lifestyle changes can help prevent and manage the disease, adopting these habits requires time and effort. J-PAL affiliated professor Rebecca Dizon-Ross (University of Chicago) and coauthors found that providing financial incentives to walk at least 10,000 steps per day increased exercise and improved physical and mental health. Read more »


Seema Jayachandran on the roots of gender inequality, deforestation, and corruption

In an interview with the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, Seema Jayachandran (Northwestern; Co‑Chair, J-PAL’s Gender sector) discusses insights from her work on gender, climate change mitigation, corruption, and the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on her future research. Read more »


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.

Julian Reif
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Mauricio Romero
Instituto Tecnológico Autónomo de México

Benjamin Roth
Harvard Business School


[Webinar recording] Building State Capacity for Tax Collection: Emerging Evidence and Implications for Practice
During the most recent webinar of the Governance, Crime, and Conflict Initiative series, panelists shared emerging insights from randomized evaluations on tax policy and administration in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Watch the recording »


India’s billionaires got richer while coronavirus pushed millions of vulnerable people into poverty
CNN Business

Surat’s emissions trading scheme to be replicated in Ahmedabad: CM Rupani
The Indian Express

Why evidence should be a priority in pandemic recovery [Opinion]

Duflo offers pathways to a better future, lessons from Covid-19 crisis

Study: Effective campaign, free distribution can triple mask usage
Dhaka Tribune


The Economic Impact of Depression Treatment in India
Manuela Angelucci, Daniel Bennett

Urban Networks and Targeting: Evidence from Liberia
Lori Beaman, Niall Keleher, Jeremy Magruder, Carly Trachtman

Gender Bias in Assessments of Teacher Performance
Sabrin Beg, Anne Fitzpatrick, Adrienne M. Lucas

Augmenting State Capacity for Child Development: Experimental Evidence from India
Alejandro J. Ganimian, Karthik Muralidharan, Christopher R. Walters