October 2022 North America Newsletter

Headshots of Cat (left) and Kim (right)
From left to right, Cat Darrow and Kim Dadisman

Good morning,

For those of you I haven't yet had the pleasure of meeting, I joined J-PAL North America a few months ago as the Associate Director of Research. I come from a background in education, first as a teacher, and then in education policy evaluation. In these roles, I saw how education and education policy is often trying to address the harms poverty can cause. I come to J-PAL excited to address the root causes of poverty itself, reduce systemic inequity, and use rigorous research to do so. 

I see the work of our research and training staff as expanding access to this rigorous research. Through bolstering early-stage research via Research Management Support, creating research resources, and running trainings for research staff, we are consistently trying to expand the number of people who can use randomized evaluation as a tool to create policy change. As our work progresses, I am excited by the prospect of sharing our perspective across fields beyond economics and broadening access to these tools at every stage of the economics pipeline, from high schoolers to researchers early in their careers. 

In this month's newsletter, I invite you to learn more about myself and my priorities for the research and training team on the J-PAL blog, alongside my colleague Kim Dadisman, my counterpart on the policy and communications team. I'm also excited to highlight how J-PAL aims to make our research more equitable through two examples: using inclusive language to communicate research results and building community-oriented research opportunities in maternal health. I look forward to collaborating with you to continue this important work. 

Catherine Darrow
Associate Director of Research
J-PAL North America

Promoting the use of inclusive language at J-PAL

Rigorous policy and program evaluation can provide insights into effective ways to reduce and prevent poverty. To translate research findings into policy change, J-PAL and its regional offices strive to use inclusive language to bolster the accuracy and accessibility of research results. In a new blog post, J-PAL North America and Global staff share some of our internal inclusive language practices and discuss how we use these principles to improve communication, promote equity, and situate our work within important regional and sector contexts. These guidelines are neither exhaustive nor conclusive, and we welcome suggestions as we continue to develop our own understanding and use of inclusive language.

The importance of rigorous, actionable research in maternal and newborn health

The United States is facing a crisis in maternal and newborn health. A new blog post by affiliated researchers Jessica Cohen and Maggie McConnell (​​Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health) and our Health Care Delivery Initiative staff highlights the importance of randomized evaluations in this space and discusses future research generation in collaboration with social scientists, clinicians, and policy-makers to meet the urgent need for systemic, equitable change. 

Get to know J-PAL North America's associate directors of policy and research 

We catch up with Cat Darrow and Kim Dadisman, J-PAL North America's associate directors of research and policy, on what brought them to J-PAL and what priorities they've set for the coming year. They reflect on similar journeys from classroom teaching to impact evaluation, seeing J-PAL North America's core values in action, and new opportunities to pursue collaboration and accessibility at scale in our work.

Featured Evaluation Summary:  Providing Financial Incentives and Behavioral Nudges to Encourage Covid-19 Vaccine Uptake in the United States 

In this study, researchers evaluated the impact of financial incentives, video messages, and access to a vaccine scheduling link on Covid-19 vaccine uptake. None of the interventions led to increases in vaccine uptake. Further, financial incentives were found to reduce vaccination rates among certain subgroups, highlighting the potential for financial nudges to backfire.

Featured Research Resource: Catalog of Administrative Data Sets

Administrative data can be an excellent source of information for use in research and impact evaluation.  To assist researchers in screening potential administrative data sources, J-PAL North America has cataloged a number of key US and Canada data sets. The catalog also documents procedures on how to access data based on information provided by the originating agencies.

Media Highlights

Could Tutoring Be the Best Tool for Fighting Learning Loss?
Anna Nordberg, The New York Times

HKS Professor Marcella Alsan elected to National Academy of Medicine
Harvard Kennedy School

These Job-Training Programs Work, and May Show Others the Way
Steve Lohr, The New York Times

Does tutoring work? An education economist examines the evidence on whether it's effective
Susanna Loeb, The Conversation

Podcast: Larry Katz on Moving To Opportunity
EconoFact Chats