May 2024 Newsletter

A small group of students stand in an academic quad, surrounded by grass with buildings in the background.
Students in the 2023 DEDP Master’s cohort gathered on MIT’s campus.
Lucy Nguyen

New Public Policy Track for the DEDP Master’s Program at MIT 

The Master’s Program in Data, Economics, and Design of Policy (DEDP), jointly administered by J-PAL and the MIT Department of Economics, is expanding to include a new in-person Public Policy Track that complements the existing International Development Track. Designed to tackle poverty alleviation in the United States and other high-income countries, the curriculum covers a diverse set of issues, from domestic concerns like minimum wage and consumer welfare to global matters including trade, climate change, and immigration. Applications will open in fall 2024. Learn more »

New white paper: Evidence-informed approaches to supporting micro, small, and medium enterprise growth


Encouraging the growth of micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) can help support their sustainability and success. In Indonesia, policymakers, the private sector, and NGOs offer a range of programs to support this growth, such as, simplifying the process for MSMEs to join online platforms, connecting to digital finance, and streamlining delivery services. However, limited evidence exists on the impact of these efforts on MSMEs’ business outcomes.

To address this knowledge gap, the Innovation for MSME Development Initiative at J-PAL Southeast Asia published a new white paper offering insights into Indonesia’s MSME landscape, global evidence on MSME programs, and promising research opportunities to support evidence-informed policymaking in the MSME sector. Read the white paper »


Building research partnerships to address wildfire risk in Jackson County, Oregon

As wildfires become more common and destructive in the United States, states and counties are increasingly recognizing a need for wildfire resilience strategies. Fostered through the Evaluation Incubator for state and local government agencies led by J-PAL North America, Jackson County Fire District 3 is conducting a pilot evaluation of a program encouraging households to take up wildfire prevention practices. In a new blog post, Deputy Director of the Western Fire Chiefs Association Bob Horton and J-PAL invited researchers Judson Boomhower (UC San Diego) and Patrick Baylis (University of British Columbia) discuss how their research partnership is leading to innovative solutions. Read more »

How researchers across the J-PAL network are tackling climate change 

Climate change disproportionately affects people living in poverty and threatens to reverse decades of progress in global poverty alleviation. In honor of Earth Day this year, we shared some of the ways J-PAL’s King’s Climate Action Initiative and affiliated researchers have been working to advance evidence-informed solutions at the nexus of climate change and poverty alleviation. Read more on X »


Supporting locally-driven agriculture research in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia

Since J-PAL and the Center for Effective Global Action at UC Berkeley launched the Digital Agricultural Innovations and Services Initiative (DAISI)’s Regional Scholars Program, the program has been integral to the initiative’s ability to generate locally-driven research on digital services for small-scale farmers. To date, eight research teams from sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia have received funding and mentorship on studies identifying and testing a range of innovative, policy-relevant digital agricultural solutions. A new blog post by Abel Mkulama, Program Associate at the Center for Effective Global Action, shares how the program has fostered a community of researchers and funded innovative projects. Read more »


Video: Iqbal Dhaliwal on applying an evidence-informed approach to philanthropic giving

Iqbal Dhaliwal, Global Executive Director of J-PAL, recently spoke to an audience of Asia-based philanthropies, donors, corporate executives, and impact advisors at the Philanthropy Asia Summit 2024 in Singapore. The event, hosted by Philanthropy Asia Alliance and Temasek Trust, sought to catalyze collaborative philanthropy in Asia through public-private partnerships. In his remarks, Iqbal highlighted the key role that rigorous evidence can play in amplifying the impact of philanthropic giving. He drew from the J-PAL King Climate Action Initiative’s growing evidence base to share insights on ways to scale impactful climate innovations. Watch the video »

Video: Creating an embedded evidence-to-policy lab to improve social inclusion in Spain 

Our latest video explores the motivation behind the Spanish government’s Inclusion Policy Lab, an embedded evidence lab within the Ministry of Inclusion, Social Security and Migration launched in partnership with J-PAL Europe in 2021 that has since produced 34 randomized evaluations of government-backed education, employment, and inclusion programs designed to support vulnerable families. The lab was recently recognized by the European Commission as a pioneering initiative that can serve as an example to other European countries seeking to adopt evidence-informed policies to fight poverty. Watch the video »


"The mentorship provided through the African Scholars program has been invaluable, as it has allowed me to engage with experts in the field and has significantly enhanced my research skills and capacity.”

Toyin Samuel Olowogbon on digital agricultural solutions and Scholar tips

📍Ota, Nigeria

In our latest African Scholars Spotlight, Toyin Samuel Olowogbon (Covenant University of Ota) shares how identifying innovative solutions to solve problems and spurring progress and prosperity in agricultural communities across Nigeria motivates his research. Toyin discusses lessons learned from his experience as a J-PAL Scholar and offers advice for fellow researchers who are considering applying for funding from a J-PAL initiative. Read more »


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

Tahir Andrabi
Pomona College

Jacobus Cilliers
Georgetown University

Sarah Eichmeyer
Bocconi University


Nurturing the Null: Learning from Unexpected Results to Improve Community Outcomes

🗓️ May 23

On May 23, the Lab for Economic Opportunities will host the next webinar in their “Evidence Matters” series. The session will be co-hosted by Vincent Quan, co-executive director of J-PAL North America, and Carrie Cihak, evidence and impact officer at King County, Washington and one of J-PAL North America’s 2023 Evidence Champions. Register today »

gLOCAL Evaluation Week: Tools to Incorporate a Gender Lens in Evaluations

🗓️ June 4

J-PAL Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) will participate in the 2024 gLOCAL Evaluation Week, a global monitoring and evaluation knowledge-sharing event convened by the Global Evaluation Initiative. As part of the event, J-PAL LAC and the UN Women Regional Office for the Americas and the Caribbean will co-host a webinar in Spanish on incorporating a gender lens into evaluations. This webinar will provide two practical tools designed to improve gender integration in LAC. Learn more and register »

Jobs and Development Conference, Cairo

🗓️ Apply by June 13

Hosted by J-PAL Middle East and North Africa (MENA) and co-organized by the World Bank, UNU-WIDER, and the International Labour Organization, the 2024 Jobs and Development Conference will take place on October 8–9 in Cairo, Egypt at the American University in Cairo. The conference is a global event that will bring together researchers from around the world and will focus on policy-relevant research applicable to identifying solutions to employment challenges in low- and middle-income countries. Interested researchers are invited to submit for the call for papers by June 13. Learn more and apply »


Open enrollment and scholarships for the DEDP MicroMasters Program

🗓️ Courses started May 14

The MicroMasters program in Data, Economics, and Design of Policy (DEDP) summer term has just begun. Enrollment is open until June 11. The online courses cover a range of topics, including development economics, public policy, and data analysis. 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. 

Courses are free to audit, with the option to pay for the proctored exam in pursuit of a course certificate. Thanks to the generous support of our donors, MicroMasters scholarships are available to learners in Brazil and Southeast Asia. Enroll today »

Evaluating Social Programs course in Accra, Ghana 

🗓️ Apply by May 19

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 hosted by J-PAL Africa at the Ghana Institute for Management and Public Administration on August 19–23. 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. Applications are due May 19. Learn more and apply »

Humanitarian Action Research Incubator in Cairo

🗓️ Apply by May 23

Are you a humanitarian professional interested in using randomized impact evaluations to understand your program’s effectiveness? J-PAL Middle East and North Africa and J-PAL Europe are accepting applications for the Humanitarian Action Research Incubator in Cairo. The incubator is offered as part of J-PAL and Innovations for Poverty Action’s Displaced Livelihoods Initiative and Humanitarian Protection Initiative. There will be opportunities to collaborate with researchers who can apply for impact evaluation funding. Applications are due May 23, and the research incubator will take place July 22–24. Apply now »


Egypt’s Minister of Planning and Economic Development officially approves integration of the Egypt Impact Evaluation Lab into the National Institute for Governance and Sustainable Development
J-PAL Middle East and North Africa 

Google and J-PAL launch pilot program to combat homelessness in California

Q&A: Claire Walsh on how J-PAL’s King Climate Action Initiative tackles the twin climate and poverty crises
MIT News

The European Commission backs Spain's Inclusion Policy Lab and is open to studying ways of funding its continuity
La Moncloa

Frisch Medal awarded to J-PAL affiliated professors
Econometric Society


Investing in the Next Generation: The Long-Run Impacts of Liquidity Shock
Patrick Agte, Arielle Bernhardt, Erica Field, Rohini Pande, and Natalia Rigol 

Does AI Help Humans Make Better Decisions? A Methodological Framework for Experimental Evaluation
Eli Ben-Michael, D. James Greiner, Melody Huang, Kosuke Imai, Zhichao Jiang, and Sooahn Shin

Redesigning Payments for Ecosystem Services to Increase Cost-Effectiveness
Santiago Izquierdo-Tort, Seema Jayachandran, and Santiago Saavedra

The Value of Student Debt Relief and the Role of Administrative Barriers: Evidence from the Teacher Loan Forgiveness Program
Brian A. Jacob, Damon Jones, and Benjamin J. Keys

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