October 2023 J-PAL LAC Quarterly Newsletter

Global Evaluation Initiative, Catholic University of Chile and J-PAL LAC teams after a meeting at Chile
Photo credit: Rodrigo Merino | CLEAR LAC

CLEAR center for Latin America and the Caribbean to be established at the Catholic University of Chile

Set to commence in 2024, the Center for Learning in Evaluation and Results for Latin America and the Caribbean (CLEAR-LAC) will find its new home at the prestigious Catholic University of Chile (UC). Within UC, J-PAL LAC, together with the UC Public Policy Center and Mide UC, will support CLEAR-LAC to ensure its success.

CLEAR-LAC is endorsed by the Global Evaluation Initiative (GEI). It has the support of the Independent Evaluation Group of the World Bank and the Independent Evaluation Office of the United Nations Development Program. The center aims to strengthen monitoring and evaluation (M&E) capabilities within countries, disseminate knowledge, and provide essential support to several M&E stakeholders, whether in the public, private, or civil society sectors. Previously hosted by the Center for Economic Research and Teaching of Mexico for a decade, last year GEI initiated a new call for hosting CLEAR. Out of the fourteen institutions that applied, UC emerged as the selected destination. 

CLEAR-LAC will become part of the network of CLEAR Centers, spanning Asia, Africa, and Latin America, with a total of seven centers that collaborate to support the strengthening of national M&E systems and promote the use of evidence in decision-making. In the coming months, an announcement will be made regarding the date for beginning CLEAR-LAC's operations. Learn more » 


Technical assistance sessions for "Desafío Educación" fund beneficiaries

On August 2, J-PAL LAC kicked off an online, tailored technical assistance cycle for four organizations working to improve education in Chile, funded by the "Desafío Educación" in collaboration with the MC Foundation. This training aimed to review and enhance the organizations' strategies and measurement tools. Building on the organization's completed pilot studies, the sessions focused on assessing their process compliance, understanding preliminary results, and contemplating how best to measure the programs' progression. Learn more about J-PAL's trainings and custom courses »


J-PAL LAC participates in the 4th Brazilian Meeting on Family and Gender Economic

From August 16–18, the Department of Economics at the University of São Paulo hosted the 4th Brazilian Meeting on Family and Gender Economics (GeFam). J-PAL affiliated professor Jeanne Lafortune (Pontificia Universidad Catolica de Chile), was one of the keynote speakers. Additionally, Ariana Britto, J-PAL LAC’s policy manager leading J-PAL LAC’s Government Partnerships Expansion Project in Brazil, contributed to the "Learning Inequality, Gender Gaps, and the Labor Market'' session. The gathering fostered significant discussions, with experts and scholars exchanging insights on family and gender economics. The event encompassed research and policy engagement on different topics with a direct influence on women’s lives. Learn more about our work for gender equality in LAC »


Boosting early childhood development in Guatemala

In Guatemala, several organizations and government institutions increasingly recognize the importance of improving early childhood development (ECD) and have accumulated relevant key lessons on the topic. With this in mind, J-PAL LAC and Universidad del Valle de Guatemala, as part of their nascent partnership to promote evidence-informed decision-making, created “Programa de Sondeo y Arranque” or PROSA to catalyze evidence-use and evaluations of innovative ECD programs. On the J-PAL blog, we explain how we will work on the topic with organizations. Read the blog post »

Sharing insights about early childhood development programs with Chilean policymakers 

In August, J-PAL invited researcher Gabriella Conti (University College London) and J-PAL LAC staff met with members of the Chilean Ministry of Social Development and Family to talk about programs focused on early childhood development (ECD). During the meeting, the participants discussed key lessons derived from research and went through some of the programs currently being implemented by the Ministry. Learn more of J-PAL LAC's ongoing work on ECD in Central America »


JOI Brazil hosts roundtable on workplace safety

On August 16, J-PAL’s Jobs and Opportunity Initiative (JOI) Brazil facilitated a roundtable discussion addressing political aspects of workplace safety. By presenting rigorous evidence, the event aimed to create an open dialogue to share ideas and experiences. Speakers included J-PAL affiliated professor Jeanne Lafortune (Pontificia Universidad Catolica de Chile) and Virgílio Pires, a labor tax auditor for the Brazilian Ministry of Labor, who shared their insights on prevailing worker safety challenges. Learn more about JOI Brazil's funded research projects »


Universidad del Valle de Guatemala highlighted our newest partnership focused on alleviating poverty through evidence-informed decision-making in Guatemala. Read more in Spanish »

J-PAL’s latest installment of the 20 for 20: Partner Voices blog series highlighted a J-PAL LAC staff member and an alumna’s work promoting diversity in economics. Read more in English or Spanish »

J-PAL’s new Affiliate Spotlight features Raquel Bernal (Universidad de los Andes) and her work on early childhood development and education. She is the Dean of Universidad de los Andes de Colombia. Read more in English »

As part of J-PAL’s Alumni Voices series, J-PAL LAC alumna Josefin Pasanen shared the lasting impact of J-PAL on her career at the United Nations. Watch the interview in English »


[New Evaluation] Stanford H-2A Project
Melanie Morten and Beatriz Magaloni
Intervention Start Date: August 2023

Summary: The evaluation will randomize temporary H-2A visas to Mexican migrants. Recruits will receive work contracts of between 2–6 months to work in agricultural farms in the United States. We will follow laborers who did and didn't receive the visa, alongside their households in Mexico, to understand the impact of migrating on their livelihoods and income. By following those who did and did not receive visas, we will measure whether providing short-term legal migration deters irregular migration and quantify whether income from seasonal migration is being used or can be invested in origin communities to alleviate poverty, improve livelihoods, and enhance educational opportunities. We also will understand the impact of migrating on political and civic attitudes; community cohesiveness, norms of social reciprocity; and experiences of violence and exploitation. View the registry details »

[New Working Paper] Come Out and Play: Public Space Recovery, Social Capital, and Citizen Security
Matías Braun, Francisco A. Gallego, and Rodrigo R. Soares
Working Paper, July 2023

Abstract: This paper examines the effects of renovating deteriorated public spaces on local socioeconomic outcomes. We analyze the impacts of a randomized experiment implemented in 28 fragile neighborhoods of Santiago, Chile. Our findings indicate that the renovation of local squares led to increased use and maintenance of the public space, enhanced neighborhood engagement, and a stronger sense of ownership among residents, along with a reduction in leisure activities outside the neighborhood. Moreover, treated neighborhoods experienced improvements in public security perceptions both within the square and in the broader neighborhood area. We also observe positive effects on trust (among acquaintances) and participation in community organizations. By exploring heterogeneous treatment effects across neighborhoods, we do not find evidence supporting theories emphasizing the joint determination of public security and social capital. Instead, our results suggest that the effects are better explained by increased neighborhood use, particularly in areas that are densely populated and have a higher proportion of social housing. Read the full paper »