October 2021 Newsletter

teacher and students learning outdoors during the covid-19 pandemic
Bandung, Indonesia. Elementary school students studying outdoors during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Photo: Bastian AS | Shutterstock.com

Philanthropic priorities during the Covid-19 pandemic

In a recent blog post for the Center for Effective Philanthropy, Iqbal Dhaliwal (Global Executive Director, J-PAL; Scientific Director, J-PAL South Asia) and Ingrid Lustig (Senior Development Associate, J-PAL Global) reflect on issues of renewed importance that demand the attention of philanthropists and policymakers in this current phase of the pandemic. They share evidence and opportunities for stakeholders working across social protection, education, health, misinformation, and climate change. Read more »

J-PAL Global’s community reunites after months of remote work

This September we reopened our doors to staff, bringing masked and vaccinated teams into the office on a rotating basis to ease social distancing. For the first time since March 2020, we also welcomed senior government officials to campus to discuss plans for establishing a human capital development hub in Burkina Faso. Read more »

Second cohort graduates from joint J-PAL/MIT master’s program

Thirteen students graduated in September with a Master’s in Data, Economics, and Development Policy from MIT. The graduates earned their degrees through a hybrid in-person and remote learning model, and completed a summer capstone internship where they applied their coursework to real-world research and policy questions. Read more »

New blog series: Empowering women through digital financial services in Indonesia

Financial services can give women more control over decision-making, which can lead to empowerment and improved well-being. A new blog series from J‑PAL Southeast Asia’s Inclusive Financial Innovation Initiative (IFII) explores lessons from randomized evaluations on the effectiveness of gender-inclusive digital financial services. The first post summarizes discussions from the recent IFII Learning Collaborative Forum, with a focus on practical applications for Indonesia’s financial services landscape. Read more »


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


Incentivizing higher-quality agricultural products

Despite making investments in quality-enhancing technologies and practices, smallholder farmers in low- and middle-income countries may not always secure buyers or receive higher prices for higher-quality agricultural goods. Our new Policy Insight reviews strategies designed to help farmers secure market access and market share by improving the quality of their agricultural products. Read more »


Building trust and tolerance through soccer in Iraq

Post-conflict communities can experience few social ties and low trust across groups, risking relapse into violence and instability. To assess if positive and cooperative contact can improve relations across groups, researcher Salma Mousa (Yale) evaluated a program in which displaced Christians played with either Muslims or fellow Christians during a two-month soccer league in an ISIS-affected area of Iraq. The J-PAL-funded evaluation found that Christians placed with Muslim teammates exhibited greater tolerance toward Muslim peers, but this did not generalize outside the soccer league. Read more and watch the video »


Esther Duflo on equality and economic growth

In an interview with the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, Esther Duflo (MIT; Director, J-PAL; Scientific Director, J-PAL South Asia) discusses economic trade-offs, Covid-19’s unequal impact on low-income countries and individuals, and diversity in the field of economics. Read more »


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

Shilpa Aggarwal
Indian School of Business

Alfredo Burlando
University of Oregon

Firman Witoelar Kartaadipoetra
Australia National University

Jonathan Weigel
University of California, Berkeley


[October 25] Countering Discrimination: Generating Evidence and Policy Lessons From Across Disciplines

Researchers from a variety of academic disciplines have long studied the nature and consequences of discrimination against certain groups, but an area of emerging research is on building an evidence base from randomized evaluations of effective anti-discrimination strategies. Featuring J-PAL affiliated professor Marianne Bertrand (University of Chicago; Co-Chair, J-PAL Labor Markets sector), participants will discuss ways in which we can use rigorous, interdisciplinary research to identify effective, policy-relevant strategies for combating discrimination around the world. Register »

[November 4] Evidências Consistentes e Melhores Práticas em Avaliação: Conheça a JOI Brasil e Faça Parte do Processo de Avaliação de Impacto do J-PAL

J-PAL Latin American and the Caribbean, in partnership with Arymax Foundation, B3 Social, Potencia Ventures, the Inter-American Development Bank, and Insper, will host a webinar in Portuguese to support innovative research on labor markets with technical support from the Jobs and Opportunity Initiative in Brazil . After the event, participants will have the opportunity to register for a project incubation workshop. Register »

[November 9] Building market linkages in Uganda

Mobile phone-based marketplaces are designed to enhance smallholder farmers’ ability to reach buyers directly and sell their goods at better prices. But how effective are digital platforms at achieving this? Hosted by J-PAL and the Center for Effective Global Action’s joint Agricultural Technology Adoption Initiative, this webinar will feature evidence on the impacts of a digital marketplace in Uganda, presented by J-PAL affiliated professor Craig McIntosh (UC San Diego; Co-Chair, J-PAL Agriculture sector). Register »

[Webinar recording] Holding Climate Actions Accountable to the Rural Poor

With experts from FAO, IFAD, academia, climate financing institutions, and the donor community, this event featured sessions on critical knowledge and evidence gaps hindering more inclusive and transformational climate actions. Claire Walsh (Associate Director of Policy, J-PAL Global; Project Director, King Climate Action Initiative) participated in a panel discussion about challenges in research for climate action involving small-scale agricultural producers. Watch the recording »


Evaluating Social Programs in Humanitarian Settings

From November 29 to December 2, J-PAL Europe is hosting a training for implementers and policymakers on randomized evaluations and their applications in humanitarian settings. The four-day training consists of a series of online lectures led by J-PAL affiliated professors and senior staff, and provides an in-depth look at rigorously measuring impact, methods and considerations for evaluation design and implementation, and concerns and strategies particular to humanitarian settings. Learn more and register »

Diploma in Impact Evaluation of Public Policy and Social Programs

J-PAL Latin America and the Caribbean, in partnership with the Economics Department of Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile, recently launched the fifth Diploma in Impact Evaluation of Public Policy and Social Programs. The program, consisting of three courses and a project for participants, will conclude in December. For the first time, local foundations awarded scholarships to eleven diploma participants at NGOs to enable them to join the program and gain expertise in rigorous program evaluation. Read more »


How to get farmers to not burn crop residue [Opinion]
The Indian Express

These Nobel Prize-winning economists explain why direct cash transfers are so vital to fighting poverty
Fast Company

Empowering smaller farms with global connections to trade

Partnership for data-driven early response to hunger launched

Gov’t kicks-off a three-day deworming exercise
Kenya News Agency


Changing Gambling Behavior through Experiential Learning
Martin Abel, Shawn Cole, Bilal Zia

Fatalism, Beliefs, and Behaviors During the Covid-19 Pandemic
Jesper Akesson, Sam Ashworth-Hayes, Robert Hahn, Robert D. Metcalfe, Itzhak Rasooly

Baby’s First Years: Design of a Randomized Controlled Trial of Poverty Reduction in the United States
Kimberly G. Noble, Katherine Magnuson, Lisa A. Gennetian, Greg J. Duncan, Hirokazu Yoshikawa, Nathan A. Fox, Sarah Halpern-Meekin

Savings Accounts to Borrow Less: Experimental Evidence from Chile
Dina Pomeranz, Felipe Kast