September 2021 Newsletter

A person holds a tablet showing a Facebook ad featuring the images of doctors and nurses.
Illustration: J-PAL

New study: Facebook campaign featuring health care workers slowed the spread of Covid-19

A randomized evaluation of a nationwide information campaign through Facebook found that short video messages from physicians and nurses encouraging people to stay home during the 2020 holiday season reduced travel and decreased Covid-19 infections. The campaign, which reached almost 30 million Facebook users, was an impactful and cost-effective way to convey accurate health information, increase preventive health behaviors, and slow the spread of Covid-19 across geographies and political affiliations. Read more »

Updated evidence on increasing adherence to Covid-19 guidelines

Covid-19 vaccines are being manufactured and distributed, but access remains low in many parts of the world, and some groups, like children, are unable to be vaccinated. Continued adherence to prevention guidelines, such as wearing masks and social distancing, is essential. An updated evidence note from J-PAL’s Health sector summarizes research from around the world to identify ways to increase adherence to Covid-19 guidelines. Read more »

Strengthening randomized evaluations with qualitative research

A new four-part blog series from J-PAL North America looks at how qualitative research methods can contextualize quantitative data and shed light on the reasoning behind decision-making. In addition to offering insights into how economics researchers can use qualitative methods, the series highlights three examples of research teams using these methods to inform and strengthen the design, implementation, and analysis of randomized evaluations. Read the first blog in the series »

IPCC’s landmark climate report: Implications for poverty alleviation

The UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s latest report is a call for rapid action to reduce emissions and increase adaptation to climate change. The implications of the report extend beyond the world of climate science to J-PAL and others focused on poverty alleviation, as climate change’s impacts disproportionately affect people experiencing poverty and threaten to reverse decades of progress. On the J-PAL blog, we highlight two key takeaways from the report and share relevant evidence from randomized evaluations. Read more » 

How can rigorous evidence inform policymaking in the Western Balkans

Policymakers in the Western Balkans face structural challenges, from the economy to public administration, that are affecting the region’s possible integration into the European Union. A new blog from J‑PAL Europe explores how rigorous evaluations could help policymakers implement effective reforms to tackle these obstacles. Read more » 


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


Designing effective information campaigns for healthy behaviors

While information is necessary for motivating behavior change, it may not be sufficient on its own. The framing, messenger, and platform of information campaigns can all play a role in a campaign’s ability to help individual's adopt healthy behaviors. A new J‑PAL Policy Insight highlights important considerations and provides an overview of when cash transfers or other incentives may also be useful tools. Read more » 


Michela Carlana on reducing inequality through education, gender, and migration

Michela Carlana is an assistant professor of public policy at Harvard Kennedy School. Her research has ranged from evaluating the subtle roles of bias and motivation in student outcomes to rapidly launching and evaluating scalable programs to combat learning loss. Michela’s work reflects a commitment to reducing inequality by focusing on education, gender, and migration. Read more » 


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

Francis Annan
Georgia State University

Ernesto Dal Bó
University of California, Berkeley

Gabriel Kreindler
Harvard University

Emily Owens
University of California, Irvine


[Course recap] Summer School: Innovations for Development

J-PAL Europe, in partnership with the French Development Agency, recently hosted a summer school on “Innovations for Development.” The training focused on strengthening capacities to design and implement innovative solutions for development, as well as equipping participants to better engage with funding instruments like France’s Fund for Innovation in Development. Delivered in French, the program combined keynote lectures on the frontier of development economics research with tailored sessions for policymakers, researchers, and development practitioners. Read more » 


Smart partnerships: J-PAL’s Global Executive Director Iqbal Dhaliwal writes about the advantages of working with government [Opinion]
Chandler Foundation

How humanity has reached a 'code red' climate emergency [Opinion]
Arabian Business

Largest study of masks yet details their importance in fighting Covid-19
NBC News

What research says about the best way to spend money now to solve homelessness long-term [Opinion]
Next City

Schools will spend millions on tutoring this year—here’s how to do it right
Education Post

Gen Z wants to go back to the office, just not full-time [Opinion]
Washington Post


Machine Learning and Mobile Phone Data Can Improve the Targeting of Humanitarian Assistance
Emily Aiken, Suzanne Bellue, Dean Karlan, Christopher R. Udry, Joshua Blumenstock

Early Childhood Human Capital Formation at Scale
Johannes Bos, Akib Khan, Saravana Ravindran, Abu Shonchoy

Effects of a Large-Scale Social Media Advertising Campaign on Holiday Travel and Covid-19 Infections: A Cluster Randomized Controlled Trial
Emily Breza, Fatima Cody Stanford, Marcella Alsan, Burak Alsan, Abhijit Banerjee, Arun G. Chandrasekhar, Sarah Eichmeyer, Traci Glushko, Paul Goldsmith-Pinkham, Kelly Holland, Emily Hoppe, Mohit Karnani, Sarah Liegl, Tristan Loisel, Lucy Ogbu-Nwobodo, Benjamin A. Olken, Carlos Torres, Pierre-Luc Vautrey, Erica T. Warner, Susan Wootton, Esther Duflo

Poverty-Related Bandwidth Constraints Reduce the Value of Consumption
Heather Schofield, Atheendar S. Venkataramani