May 2022 Newsletter

A group of students studying together.

Supporting underrepresented students in economics

While academic economics influences a wide range of policy areas, including education, criminal justice, entrepreneurship, and more, the field has historically not represented the full spectrum of identities and viewpoints in society. J-PAL is working to advance diversity, equity, and inclusion in economics across our seven regions, including through the Economics Transformation Project, which aims to improve representation for scholars who are historically underrepresented in North America. In a new blog post, J-PAL North America staff Jatnna Amador and Toby Chaiken discuss creating the project and building partnerships with other organizations in this space. Read more »

Impacts of climate change on food security and nutrition

The increasing effects of climate change disproportionately impact the world’s poorest people. In recognition of Earth Day, we highlighted how food systems, food security, and nutrition are particularly vulnerable to climate impacts, such as more frequent and severe droughts, floods, and heat waves. As a result, children in low- and middle-income countries may have even less access to nutritious food. To help address these risks, J-PAL’s King Climate Action Initiative and Agricultural Technology Adoption Initiative are generating evidence on strategies to strengthen food systems in the face of climate change. To learn more, watch our video featuring policy manager Tanya Kak and read the blog post »

The professional journeys of J-PAL alumni

When Shagun Sabarwal was the director of policy, training, and communications at J-PAL South Asia, she was instrumental in bolstering evidence-informed policymaking in India and expanding J-PAL’s portfolio of scale-ups and state partnerships. Now leading WomenLift Health’s efforts in India, Shagun reflects on the research and implementation lessons that she learned at J-PAL. Read more »

On the blog, we recently highlighted interviews with 34 former staff who are now working in government, NGOs, and academia. Our alumni discuss the value of a diverse staff, the skills they learned at J-PAL, and how they continue to advance evidence-informed policymaking around the world. Read more »


Tutoring to accelerate student learning

A 2020 J-PAL meta-analysis of 96 randomized evaluations showed that tutoring programs consistently led to large improvements in students’ learning. Following learning disruptions caused by Covid-19, policymakers in the United States used this research to inform policies designed to address unfinished learnings.

A new Evidence to Policy case study outlines how findings from J‑PAL’s meta-analysis informed decisions by California and Colorado lawmakers to pass legislation allocating funds to tutoring programs. J‑PAL and our government partners continue to work together to ensure that public funds for tutoring are being directed towards evidence-informed approaches. Read more »


A new learning agenda for humanitarian action

An estimated 274 million people will require humanitarian assistance in 2022 in response to crises. With support from the UK Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office, J-PAL Europe staff gathered input from humanitarian practitioners, researchers, and funders on the most relevant learning and evaluation questions to more effectively respond to these growing needs. Informed by this input, staff created the Humanitarian Initiative Learning Agenda, which outlines the demand for evidence in the sector and describes how randomized evaluations can support (cost-)effectiveness, innovation, and scale. Read the Learning Agenda »


African scholar spotlight: Nkechi Owoo

Over the course of 2022, we’re publishing a blog series highlighting the work of economists from the African continent who are leading randomized evaluations. In our newest African scholar spotlight, Nkechi Owoo (University of Ghana) shares details about her J-PAL-funded projects and discusses her interest in studying the nature of women’s work, as well as the factors that contribute to women’s economic inclusion in Ghana. Read more »


In summer 2021, 38 talented researchers joined the J-PAL network. We will feature a few of them here each month.

Manuela Angelucci
University of Texas at Austin

Peter Christensen
University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign

Suresh de Mel
University of Peradeniya


[May 19] Early Childhood Development: Guiding Investments in Long-Term Human Capital Development in Egypt

J-PAL Middle East and North Africa and UNICEF Egypt will co-host the sixth event in the Global Evidence for Egypt Spotlight Seminar Series, which brings together Egyptian policymakers and J-PAL affiliated professors to discuss priority policy issues. The seminar will focus on early childhood development in Egypt and share global evidence from interventions to enhance healthy caregiver and community practices. Register here »

[May 24] Youth Economic Inclusion: Improving Job Search and Hiring with Limited Information

As part of the Morocco Employment Lab’s research seminar series, Kate Orkin (University of Oxford) will present evidence on how limited information about jobseekers’ skills can affect both employers’ and jobseekers’ behavior and impact labor market outcomes. The presentation will be in English with real-time translation to French. Learn more about the seminar and register »

[May 30–June 3] M-Health Apps for Monitoring and Evaluation during the gLOCAL Evaluation Week  

J-PAL South Asia, together with CLEAR South Asia, will be participating in the gLOCAL Evaluation Week, a global monitoring and evaluation (M&E) knowledge-sharing movement convened by the Global Evaluation Initiative with over 380 sessions hosted by regional, national, and international partners. Keep an eye out for CLEAR/J-PAL South Asia events on conducting country-level M&E diagnostics and learning from the use of mobile health apps to collect real-time data for M&E. Learn more and register »

[May 31] Measuring Empowerment: Lessons from an Evaluation to Strengthen Women’s Economic Agency and Change Gender Norms

Also as part of gLOCAL Evaluation Week, J-PAL Latin America and the Caribbean, in collaboration with J-PAL’s Gender and Economic Agency Initiative and the Global Evaluation Initiative, will host a webinar featuring research and policy insights from J-PAL affiliated professor Natalia Rigol (Harvard). Natalia will discuss the measurement tools used in her coauthored paper that studied the impacts of strengthening women’s financial control on labor supply and gender norms. Learn more and register for this session »

[Webinar recap] Countering Discrimination: Combating Innate and Societal Biases

On April 11, J-PAL hosted a webinar on the need for more evidence on effective programs to combat discriminatory practices. The event was moderated by Marianne Bertrand (University of Chicago; Co-Chair, J-PAL’s Labor Sector) with panelists Sule Alan (European University Institute), Diag Davenport (University of Chicago), and Jenan Mohajir (Interfaith Youth Core). For highlights of the panelists’ conversation on the importance of connecting practitioners and researchers to effectively counter discrimination, read our blog post and watch the webinar recording »


[July 25–29]: Evaluating Social Programs in Abuja, Nigeria

J-PAL Africa is offering a five-day, in-person Evaluating Social Programs course in Abuja, Nigeria, from July 25–29. The course will provide a thorough understanding of randomized evaluations through lectures, hands-on exercises, and group work. Interested policymakers, donors, practitioners, and researchers from NGOs, governments, international development organizations, and foundations are encouraged to apply as soon as possible, as space is limited. Applications are reviewed on a rolling basis. Learn more and apply by June 10 »


Want to get girls to school in sub-Saharan Africa? Tackle poverty
African Arguments

Making Medicare, Medicaid innovation tests voluntary undermines evaluation opportunities
Stat News

Nobel laureate, government join hands to fight poverty
The New Indian Express

Seasonal poverty drives rural migration
The Financial Express

Racism undermines the health of Black Americans. This physician-economist is looking for solutions.
PBS NewsHour


The Search for Good Jobs: Evidence from a Six-Year Field Experiment in Uganda
Oriana Bandiera, Vittorio Bassi, Robin Burgess, Imran Rasul, Munshi Sulaiman, Anna Vitali

The Making of Civic Virtues: A School-Based Experiment in Three Countries
Simon Briole, Marc Gurgand, Eric Maurin, Sandra McNally, Jenifer Ruiz-Valenzuela, Daniel Santín

Engaging Girls in Math: The Unequal Effects of Text Messaging to Help Parents Support Early Math Development
Christopher Doss, Hans Fricke, Susanna Loeb, Justin B. Doromal

Gotta Have Money to Make Money? Bargaining Behavior and Financial Need of Microentrepreneurs
Morgan Hardy, Gisella Kagy, Lena Song