November 2021 Newsletter

COP26 sinage
Photo: chrisdorney |

Climate finance to support the creation and use of evidence at COP26

Last week, the United Nations kicked off its 26th annual Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26)—J-PAL’s King Climate Action Initiative staff are in Glasgow participating and meeting with potential partners. One of the goals of COP26 is to mobilize climate finance, but funding alone cannot guarantee effective climate mitigation and adaptation strategies. Because technological and policy innovations do not always achieve their desired effects in the field, climate financing should be informed by real-world evidence to ensure solutions are effective prior to being scaled. Read more »

Three lessons on informing policy with evidence

J-PAL is dedicated to improving lives by ensuring that policy is informed by scientific evidence. There are complex challenges to bridging the gap between evidence, policy, and practice; in a new blog post, Ashleigh Morrell (former Associate Director of Policy, J-PAL Africa) shares three key lessons for evidence adoption from J-PAL Africa, as she transitions to a new role at Teaching at the Right Level Africa. Read more »

Affiliate and partner Q&A: Evidence for medical debt relief

In an interview with J-PAL North America, Allison Sesso (Executive Director, RIP Medical Debt) and J‑PAL affiliated professor Wes Yin (UCLA) discuss the ongoing randomized evaluation of RIP Medical Debt’s model for buying and relieving individuals’ debt. Together, they reflect on building a successful partnership to assess the impacts of medical debt and understand how to best design debt relief programs. Read more »

Strengthening pathways for African researchers

Many groups of people, including women, people of color, and scholars from low- and middle-income countries, are underrepresented in the field of economics and face barriers to their professional growth. In a new blog post, J-PAL Africa reflects on how we can best support pathways for local researchers across Africa and encourage the next generation of African scholars. Read more »


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


NORMalizing mask-wearing

While face masks can help save lives by slowing the spread of Covid-19, getting people to consistently and properly wear masks has been a major public health challenge. J-PAL affiliated professor Mushfiq Mobarak (Yale), coauthors, and research staff from Innovations for Poverty Action partnered with Bangladeshi policymakers and the NGO GreenVoice to conduct a randomized evaluation of strategies to increase mask-wearing. They found that an intervention called NORM, a combination of community-level mask distribution and promotion strategies, tripled mask usage and reduced Covid-19 cases. The program is now being scaled up, reaching over 14 million people so far across South Asia. Read more »


Conditional cash transfers and women’s empowerment in North Macedonia

Many conditional cash transfers (CCT) are targeted to women, rather than men, in an effort to empower them and improve children’s well-being. However, it is not clear if targeting women achieves this effect. J‑PAL affiliated professor Orazio Attanasio (Yale) and coauthors evaluated a nationwide CCT program for low-income households in North Macedonia, where transfers were randomly allocated to either mothers or the household head (usually the father). They found that targeting CCTs to mothers increased household spending on food by empowering women and enhancing their ability to make household decisions. Read more »


Q&A: Marcella Alsan awarded MacArthur Fellowship

J-PAL affiliated professor and physician Marcella Alsan (Harvard) is the recipient of a 2021 MacArthur Fellowship for her work investigating how legacies of discrimination and resulting mistrust perpetuate racial disparities in health. Read more »


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

Achyuta Adhvaryu
University of Michigan
Kory Kroft
University of Toronto
Melanie Morten
Stanford University


[November 17] Women’s Economic Agency in Central America and Mexico

J-PAL Latin America and the Caribbean and the Gender and Economic Agency Initiative will host a webinar in Spanish for organizations in Central America and Mexico highlighting existing evidence on women’s economic agency. The event will also launch the Spanish version of J-PAL’s “A Practical Guide to Measuring Women’s and Girls’ Empowerment in Impact Evaluations.” Register »

[November 19] Reshaping Gender Attitudes to Promote Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment: What Can We Learn from the Evidence?

How can existing gender norms inform policies and programs to shift these norms, support women’s empowerment, and make gender-awareness education more effective? In a webinar hosted by J-PAL Southeast Asia, H.E. I Gusti Ayu Bintang Darmawati (Minister of Women Empowerment and Child Protection, Republic of Indonesia) and Seema Jayachandran (Northwestern University; Chair, J-PAL’s Gender sector) will discuss insights from the Government of Indonesia’s programs and learnings from evidence related to empowering women around the world. Register »

[Event recap] Priorities for Evidence Generation to Support Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises

J-PAL Middle East and North Africa at the American University in Cairo and the Egyptian Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises Development Agency (MSMEDA), with support from the European Union, co-hosted a roundtable discussion attended by partners and donors to disseminate key results from randomized evaluations of MSMEDA programs. The discussion focused on refining an agenda for evidence generation on three key policy priorities: firm formalization, digitization of products and services, and targeting high-growth micro, small, and medium enterprises. Read more »

[Webinar recap] The Great Intervention: Innovation in Food Systems

Biotech and innovative industrialization in agriculture could either ensure or compromise the safety of our food systems and ecosystems. At COP26, Abhijit Banerjee (MIT; Director, J‑PAL; Scientific Director, J-PAL Europe) joined The New York Times Climate Hub’s panel to discuss the importance of evidence in ensuring that agricultural innovation meets the needs of smallholder farmers. Watch the recording »


[November 11] Apply to CLEAR/J-PAL South Asia’s Evaluating Social Programs course

This five-day online course is designed to provide development practitioners, policymakers, researchers, and students with a thorough understanding of randomized evaluations and how they can be used to rigorously measure impact and inform policy. Learn more and apply »


Celebrating Pratham

On her own account: Impact of strengthening women’s financial control
Hindustan Times

Investing in girls' education? Top 3 lessons from the evidence
Global Partnership for Education Blog

As community college students return to class, let's help them graduate [Opinion]
The Hill

A study in Bangladesh tripled the rate of mask-wearing. Can it help in the US?


Texts Don’t Nudge: An Adaptive Trial to Prevent the Spread of Covid-19 in India
Girija Bahety, Sebastian Bauhoff, Dev Patel, James Potter

Social and Financial Incentives for Overcoming a Collective Action Problem
M. Mehrab Bakhtiar, Raymond Guiteras, James Levinsohn, Ahmed Mushfiq Mobarak

Information, Intermediaries, and International Migration
Samuel Bazzi, Lisa Cameron, Simone Schaner, Firman Witoelar

Persuasive Messaging to Increase Covid-19 Vaccine Uptake Intentions
Erin K. James, Scott E. Bokemper, Alan S. Gerber, Saad B. Omer, Gregory A. Huber