COVID-19 Response

GPRL COVID-19 Response Newsletter – Fall 2020

 

Overview

 

Since Spring 2020, NU’s Global Poverty Research Lab (GPRL) and Innovations for Poverty Action (IPA) have collaborated on a range of initiatives aimed at ameliorating the devastating consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic. Both organizations are leveraging their affiliates’ development economics expertise and robust fieldwork infrastructure to inform policy design as the pandemic’s effects take shape.

 

We plan to keep the NU community apprised of our pandemic response efforts through periodic newsletters. Please contact us at poverty-research@northwestern.edu if you would like to discuss opportunities for collaboration, if we can be of help in advising on international data collection, or if you would like to learn more. Although NU funding constraints preclude our ability to sponsor new projects at this time, we remain committed to supporting the university’s international research efforts however possible.

 

Policy and Methodology Initiatives

 

RECOVR Online Development Economics Research Hub

In April 2020, IPA launched the Research for Effective COVID-19 Responses (RECOVR) Research Hub, an online platform designed to integrate and coordinate the COVID-19 related research efforts of IPA and GPRL with those of other development policy researchers across the globe. Less than five months after its launch, the RECOVR Research Hub has grown to include descriptions of 146 development policy research studies and 40 survey questionnaires related to COVID-19, as well as a regularly-updated list of funding opportunities and a growing set of publications and events detailing research findings. As it continues to grow, the RECOVR Research Hub will assist in policy development by providing policymakers with the latest findings, sparking new research ideas, identifying research opportunities for cross-fertilization, and increasing research efficiency by facilitating efforts to coordinate topics, research designs, and survey questions.

 

RECOVR Phone Survey Methods Initiative

The COVID-19 pandemic is not only an essential topic for research—it has also transformed the way research is conducted. Social scientists and policy researchers have been forced to rework their toolkits to accommodate the need for social distancing, reshaping the world of research methodology in ways that will likely outlast the pandemic. Perhaps the central change has been a shift from in-person to phone surveys. GPRL and IPA are collaborating on a phone survey methodology initiative involving 50 studies in Bangladesh, Colombia, the Dominican Republic, Francophone West Africa, Ghana, Peru, the Philippines, Uganda, and Zambia. Since IPA began pivoting from in-person to remote surveying in March, this initiative has helped to support the development of remote surveying methods, surveyor training, and quality monitoring for virtual phone banking.  IPA is developing a phone survey methods website to share evidence and best practices with other researchers conducing remote surveying.

 

Research Studies

 

Cross-National Core RECOVR Survey

In order to track how the COVID-19 pandemic is continuing to affect life in developing countries, GPRL and IPA developed and launched the RECOVR core survey in Burkina Faso, Colombia, Côte d'Ivoire, Ghana, Mexico, the Philippines, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, Uganda, and Zambia this past May. This household panel survey aims to equip policymakers with the country-specific evidence needed to cope effectively with the pandemic. The RECOVR survey consists of a core set of standardized questions intended to facilitate cross-country comparisons, as well as additional questions tailored to country-specific contexts. In the past weeks, GPRL and IPA researchers have worked with governments, NGOs, and other stakeholders in RECOVR countries to share and discuss initial findings via virtual presentations and webinars among other events and discussions. Several of the countries are in the process of launching their second survey waves.

 

Core RECOVR Survey and Health Messaging

In addition to the descriptive insights just discussed, GPRL and IPA researchers are leveraging the RECOVR survey to study how participants’ attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors respond to alternative strategies for COVID-19 information dissemination and framing. A thorough understanding of such communication dynamics can enable public health services to launch more effective campaigns as safety protocols continue to evolve. GPRL affiliate Dean Karlan is studying this issue through a field experiment testing differences in the ways people respond to COVID-19 information when that information is shared as a standard public service announcement versus when the same information is gamified, or shared interactively in the form of an SMS trivia game. The study also includes a component that tests the extent to which priming people about the potential vulnerability of an at-risk loved one encourages behavioral change.

 

COVID-19 Response in the Context of Multi-Faceted Livelihood Support

Some of the world’s poorest and most economically vulnerable populations reside in refugee settlements, many of which face overcrowding and poor sanitation. Given these risk factors, the COVID-19 pandemic could prove disastrous for refugee communities. How can development practitioners best support livelihood and promote social protection for refugees during the pandemic? GPRL affiliates Lasse Brune, Dean Karlan, and Christopher Udry, along with IPA coauthors Nathanael Goldberg and Doug Parkerson, are addressing this question through a special phone survey component within an ongoing randomized evaluation of a multi-faceted livelihood support program in and around Western Uganda’s Kamwenge refugee settlement. The broader study tests the effects of a comprehensive set of livelihood and social protection activities—including an asset grant, skills training, consumption support, life encouragement coaching, health insurance, and access to a savings account—for Kamwenge residents. The new phone survey component will enable the researchers to estimate how much the program has helped participants to cope with the economy-wide shock induced by COVID-19. They are further partnering with local development organizations to include survey questions that will directly inform local responses to the pandemic.

 

Multi-Faceted Livelihood Support in the Philippines

As demonstrated in the above two studies, multi-faceted livelihood programs represent a versatile and potentially transformative intervention model for alleviating extreme poverty. In an evaluation of another such program in the Philippines, GPRL affiliates Lasse Brune, Dean Karlan, and Christopher Udry are implementing a pilot program in collaboration with the Philippine government’s Department of Labor and Employment that integrates elements of an existing grant assistance program with life skills coaching, savings assistance, and health information. A special phone survey component assesses the extent to which the program helped to shield households from the effects of the pandemic-induced economic downturn.

 

"The Chinese Virus" and Anti-Chinese Sentiments on Social Media

Scapegoating—especially of ethnic minorities and other social groups—has accompanied disease outbreaks numerous times throughout recorded history. In a new study, GPRL affiliate Nancy Qian and coauthor David Yang of Harvard University confront this problem with reference to the COVID-19 pandemic. Specifically, they examine the degree to which President Trump’s reference to COVID-19 as “the Chinese virus” unleashed anti-Chinese sentiments among American citizens on social media. The authors collected social media posts from Twitter since February 2020 and document that, immediately after the first incidence of President Trump’s “Chinese virus” reference, there was a sudden and large increase in Twitter users’ imitating such language. Moreover, the increase was accompanied by a broad rise in anti-Chinese posts unrelated to COVID-19, and differentially more so in counties with more Trump supporters. We find evidence that this is primarily driven by users tweeting anti-Chinese content for the first time, suggesting a shift in social norms and perceived social acceptability on public expression of such sentiments.

 

The COVID-19 Pandemic and Women’s Employment

The fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic has differed substantially across social groups, and gender is no exception. But in what ways specifically have the economic consequences of the pandemic differed for women relative to men? GPRL affiliate Matthias Doepke and coauthors Titan Alon of the University of California, San Diego, Jane Olmstead-Rumsey of Northwestern University, and Michèle Tertilt of the University of Mannheim address this question through a macroeconomic analysis of COVID-19’s effects on women’s employment. In the recent paper “This Time It’s Different: The Role of Women’s Employment in a Pandemic Recession,” Professor Doepke shows that unlike other postwar recessions in the United States, the economic downturn during the current pandemic reduced women’s employment and increased women’s unemployment much more than men’s. This trend stems in large part from an increase in childcare needs during school closures. The crisis has lowered families’ ability to offset income losses through within-family insurance, which deepens the recession and slows down the recovery. In the medium term, the crisis also exacerbates gender inequality in the labor market, because unemployed workers are seen as losing skills and are often unable to find positions with similar pay and job security once they have been lost to a downturn. Documenting such consequences represents a vital input into policymakers’ attempts to plan gender-sensitive economic recovery packages in the wake of the pandemic.

 

Supporting Female Entrepreneurs in Ghana During COVID-19

Small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in developing countries have been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic. Female SME entrepreneurs are especially vulnerable compared to their male counterparts as they are more likely to have smaller professional networks and limited regulatory knowledge that can hinder business growth, access to capital and take-up of government assistance. GPRL graduate students Francsca Truffa and Ashley Wong are conducting a field experiment intended to identify policies that can support the resilience of women SME entrepreneurs. A sample of entrepreneurs who applied to the COVID-19 Stimulus Fund for business grants will be randomly assigned to receive legal support, professional networking opportunities, both, or neither. A sub-sample of high-performing participants from each group will then be randomly assigned to receive a business grant. Additional novel real-time data on businesses will be collected through a mobile application. Results will inform efforts by stakeholders in Ghana and beyond that seek to compensate for the structural inequities that have placed the COVID-19 burden disproportionately on women.

 

Targeting Access to Capital to Vulnerable Small Businesses during the COVID-19 Crisis and Recovery

An important component of the recovery from the COVID-19 crisis is the profitability and survival of micro and small businesses, which constitute a key driver of global growth. During recessions, however, lenders often reduce the flow of credit to businesses because their creditworthiness models were developed using data from normal times and might do a poor job of quantifying risk during an unprecedented crisis. Two key questions in rethinking creditworthiness to unlock capital for businesses with high growth potential are (i) how has the crisis affected these businesses? and (ii) what is the impact of credit for these businesses during the crisis? In close collaboration with financial institutions in several Latin American countries, GPRL affiliate Sean Higgins is harnessing the power of big data, field experiments, and data science to answer these questions. First, he draws on data from billions of transactions conducted by millions of businesses from financial institutions in Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Mexico, Paraguay, and Peru to track the economic impact of COVID-19 on small businesses by location and sector, and evaluate the effect of policies designed to both mitigate COVID-19's spread and provide small business support. Analyzing these data for understanding how business survival, sales, and probability of loan repayment change during the crisis. Second, he is conducting experiments with the banks to evaluate the impact of the loans during the crisis and predict which business owners are likely to benefit most.

 

Advising Coffee Boards on the Impact of COVID-19

GPRL affiliate Ameet Morarjia is conducting an analysis and writing an accompanying policy memo for the Coffee Boards of Rwanda and Uganda detailing the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on coffee markets. The analysis draws on administrative coffee production and trade datasets alongside a review of recent coffee-oriented policy initiatives to guide the Coffee Boards as they strive to protect their respective coffee sectors—and the livelihoods of millions who depend directly or indirectly on coffee sales. The project may extend to include the Coffee Boards of Burundi and Ethiopia as well.




GPRL COVID-19 Response Newsletter

 

Overview

 

NU’s Global Poverty Research Lab (GPRL) and Innovations for Poverty Action (IPA) have launched a series of collaborative initiatives aimed at slowing the already devastating spread of COVID-19 and ameliorating the pandemic’s socioeconomic consequences. During this time of unprecedented uncertainty, our researchers’ expertise in livelihood, public health, and social protection—coupled with IPA’s robust fieldwork infrastructure and ability to quickly take on phone-based data collection—can provide invaluable policy insights as the pandemic’s fallout takes shape. Projects include both Research Capacity-Building Initiatives and Field-Based Studies.

 

Through this newsletter, we plan to keep the NU community apprised of our pandemic response efforts. Please contact us at poverty-research@northwestern.edu if you would like to discuss opportunities for collaboration, if we can be of help in advising on international data collection, or if you would like to learn more. Although NU funding constraints preclude our ability to sponsor new projects at this time, we remain committed to supporting the university’s international research efforts however possible.

 

Capacity-Building Initiatives

 

RECOVR Online Research Hub

On Thursday, April 23, IPA released the Research for Effective COVID-19 Responses (RECOVR) Research Hub, an online platform serving as a database to integrate and coordinate the research efforts of GPRL, IPA, and development policy researchers from a range of other institutions. The platform allows researchers to share and draw upon one another’s research designs, questionnaires, and procedural protocols, which in turn facilitates adjustments to maximize the efficiency and coverage of the research while also sparking new ideas and collaborations. For instance, a series of evaluations using phone surveys will incorporate a “Core Survey” module, i.e., a common set of survey questions. This will allow for informative comparisons across countries and other dimensions that shape the policy environment.

 

GPRL-IPA Collaboration: Incubating Best Practices for Development Research During a Pandemic

In addition to providing the impetus for a wide range of studies on how best to maintain health and social protection in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, considerations relating to the spread of COVID-19 are reshaping the operations and field realities of development policy research. Given this situation, GPRL and IPA are collaborating to build the infrastructure, tools, and protocols needed to conduct remote data collection and response. The focus will be on developing tools for data collection that circumvent person-to-person contact. This task force will begin with four working groups respectively pursuing four goals:

  • establishing infrastructure to scale up remote surveying (e.g., software and technological arrangements for remote interviewing);
  • developing innovations in remote research methodology (e.g., fine-tuning analytical methods to maximize rigor within the new data collection environment);
  • identifying best practices in phone surveying (e.g,. through systematic reviews of existing research); and
  • collecting resources for online sharing as a public good (e.g., through the RECOVR Hub).

This work offers the potential to support a key informational link as governments and development agencies strive to learn what they need to protect socioeconomically vulnerable people in times of great need and uncertainty.

 

Research Studies

 

Core Survey Pilot in Ghana

The Core Survey module that will be used for cross-national comparative research was piloted in Ghana in late April, and will go into the field by early May. Questions address issues of health, education, livelihood, and other important dimensions of development designed to explore how social policies function within the new socioeconomic environment created by the COVID-19 pandemic. The Core Survey framework builds on GPRL and IPA researchers’ leading expertise in rigorous evaluations conducted across multiple countries. Efforts are underway to scale up utilization of the Core Survey across more countries and study contexts.

 

Ghana Panel Cash Drop

GPRL researchers and partners are studying the short-run effect of cash transfers delivered via mobile money to the poor. This study of 1,500 households drawn from the ongoing Ghana Panel Survey is a randomized controlled trial (RCT) managed by IPA. It tests the impact of providing weekly grants to a random set of relatively low-income households, with the size of the grants calibrated to match the size of similar grants being piloted by the Ghana government. The rich data provided by the Ghana Panel Survey permits us to examine how the transfers affect food security, health, and COVID-related attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors. This work is being undertaken in close coordination with relevant ministries of the Ghana government.

 

Ghana Finance Ministry Pilot

The Ghana Ministry of Finance and Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection are exploring means of rapidly scaling support for the most vulnerable in the face of the COVID-19 outbreak. GPRL, in coordination with the Ghana Statistical Service and the University of Ghana at Legon’s Institute of Statistical, Social and Economic Research, is designing a pilot system of cash transfers via mobile money to households in the poorest, most impacted districts in Greater Accra and Kumasi (Ghana’s two most densely populated regions). The initial pilot is designed to reach 50,000 people, randomized from 60,000 chosen based on location and minimal data on past mobile phone use. The pilot is designed to evaluate the efficiency of the targeting process, the sensitivity of uptake to different messaging strategies, and the immediate impact of the transfers on food security, health, and COVID-related attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors.

 

Implications of COVID for Education and Gender

GPRL affiliate Matthias Doepke is extending his research on education and gender to explore implications with regard to the COVID-19 pandemic. His paper “The Impact of COVID-19 on Gender Equality” (published in Covid Economics: Vetted and Real-Time Papers, April 2020) shows that the current economic downturn has dramatically different effects by gender on employment and demands for child care at home than typical economic downturns. The labor market effects of the crisis on women, and working mothers in particular, may be persistent because of the well-known long run effects of experience. These adverse effects may be mitigated if the pandemic leads to changes in workplace institutions and norms. Matthias has also written in Psychology Today on the need to massively expand summer education programs for low-income children to help compensate for the current school closures.

 

India Debiasing Health Information Program

Social scientists have documented deep biases predominant across individuals with regard to their health, including overconfidence about the level of risk. Indeed, these deeply-engrained cognitive biases may in part explain certain portions of COVID-19’s rapid spread. This study tests the effects of providing debiasing information via text messaging on health-related behaviors. In particular, the program provides guidance for individuals in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu with diabetes and hypertension, conditions that place them at risk for severe virus-related symptoms. The information is tailored to the public health context of COVID-19, for instance emphasizing the importance of continued treatment of base conditions to lower morbidity risks. Nuanced study of participants’ knowledge and beliefs during and after the program will generate insights on how most effectively to disseminate health information applicable across many pandemic-related contexts and beyond. Researchers will synthesize the resulting data for the Government of Tamil Nadu for use in its COVID-related policy response planning.

 

Togo Cash Transfer Program

To mitigate the economic effects of the COVID-19 crisis, the government of Togo is designing a cash transfer program aimed at improving food security in the region while ensuring that people can comply with government-recommended protocols. The cash transfers are roughly equivalent to a third of the minimum wage, with eligibility determined based on the occupation listed on individuals’ voter registration rolls. Researchers from GPRL and collaborating institutions have formed a partnership to advise senior Togolese government officials on effective targeting to reach the most vulnerable populations using low-cost data on occupations and rapid cash delivery using mobile money. Through the project, researchers will develop poverty maps, mobility/movement dashboards, and predictive models for effective targeting, as well as estimating the transfer program’s impact. This study will also facilitate cross-national comparisons for mobile money cash transfers in conjunction with the Ghana Panel Cash Drop study.

 

Uganda Kamwenge Graduation Program

Building on an existing USAID-funded study, this project tests the extent to which a multi-faceted livelihood program in the Ugandan post-conflict refugee settlement of Kamwenge helps to build resilience in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic. Before the pandemic, the study focused on the effects of the Kamwenge Graduation Program—which included asset grants, business and agricultural trainings, and savings assistance among other component—on food security and nutrition under relatively stable conditions. Conducting phone-based surveys following the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic will allow researchers to test the program’s effects in the face of the social and economic disruptions caused by the pandemic, and to better understand how to optimize social support policies under conditions of grave external shocks. The researchers are also partnering with local organizations to develop survey questions that the organizations intend to use in calibrating their policy responses.


Burkina Faso Projects

Burkina Family Aspirations and Behaviors

PI: Seema Jayachandran

Year Started: 2017

Year Ended: Ongoing

Status: Data Collection

Methodology: RCT

Partners: IPA Burkina Faso

Description: The purpose of this study is to investigate the “stalled fertility transition” in sub-Saharan Africa by conducting a randomized controlled trial of the provision of contraceptive vouchers in conjunction with individual or community-based interventions. The aim is to produce high-quality empirical evidence on family aspirations and related choices, and to better understand underlying mechanisms that determine these choices.

China Projects

China Data Access Project

PI: Nancy Qian

Year Started: 2018

Year Ended: Ongoing

Methodology: Data Access Project

Description: This project promotes access to microdata from China by providing the names, basic description and known usage of all large sample microdata that have been used in existing research papers.

View the project

Ethiopia Projects

Graduating the Ultra Poor in Ethiopia

PI: Dean Karlan

Date Started: 2010

Date Ended: 2017

Status: Data Analysis

Methodology: RCT

Partners: Relief Society of Tigray (REST) and Dedebit Credit and Savings Institution (DECSI)

Description: While many credit and training programs have not been successful at raising income levels for ultra-poor households, support for livelihoods programs spurred interest in evaluating whether comprehensive “big push” interventions may allow for a sustainable transition to self-employment and a higher standard of living.

To test this theory, researchers evaluated a globally implemented “Graduation” approach, combining complementary approaches—the transfer of a productive asset, training, consumption support and coaching— into one comprehensive program, to measure its impact on the lives of the ultra-poor. In Ethiopia, researchers partnered with the Relief Society of Tigray (REST) and the Dedebit Credit and Savings Institution (DECSI). The study focused on participants in Ethiopia’s food-for-work program who belonged to households without any outstanding loans and with at least one member capable of work.

 

Ghana Projects

Ghana Socio-Economic Panel Survey

PI: Chris Udry

Year Start: Wave I 2009, Wave II 2013, Wave III 2018

Year End: Ongoing

Status: Data collection

Methodology: Panel Survey

Partners: University of Ghana’s Institute of Statistical, Social and Economic Research (ISSER); IPA – Ghana

Description: The Ghana Panel is a nationally and regionally representative household survey containing 5,000+ households that covers a wide range of topics, including education, health, employment, migration, financial assets, land use and agriculture, non-farm enterprises, housing, psychological measures and more.


Graduating the Ultra Poor in Ghana

PI: Chris Udry

Year Started: 2011

Year Ended: Ongoing

Status: Data Collection

Methodology: RCT

Partners: IPA

Description: This project evaluates several variations of a comprehensive livelihood intervention that provides households with productive asset transfers, technical skills training, consumption support, healthcare, a savings account and regular household visits. In 2019, a long-term follow-up survey will be conducted using the extensive, cross-sectoral Ghana Socio-Economic Panel Survey Questionnaire. The study also estimates "spillover" effects—impact on households in treatment communities who do not themselves receive the program.


Disseminating Innovative Resources and Technologies to Smallholder Farmers in Ghana (DIRTS)

PI: Chris Udry

Year Started: 2014

Year Ended: Ongoing

Status: Data Analysis

Methodology: RCT

Description: Recent research in northern Ghana shows that access to insurance spurs productivity investments among smallholder farmers, but that these investments do not necessarily translate into increased profits. DIRTS evaluated the impact of tailored extension advice, weather forecasts and improved access to inputs—in addition to rainfall insurance—on farmers' knowledge, investment patterns and earnings.


Escaping Poverty

PI: Chris Udry

Year Started: 2014

Year Ended: Ongoing

Status: Data Collection

Methodology: RCT

Partners: IPA and Heifer International

Description: Escaping Poverty tests several variations of a comprehensive livelihood intervention that includes a group-based skills training. This main intervention is tested in combination with and separately from a group cognitive-behavioral therapy program aimed at improving mental health.

 

India Projects

Providing Covid-19 Health Information to a Vulnerable Population

PI: Seema Jayachandran

Year Start: 2020

Year End: 2021

Status: Data Collection

Methodology: RCT

Description: This RCT aims to test whether interventions that offset people’s over-optimism can improve the effectiveness of information provision and correspondingly improve health. One immediate impact will be to provide all study participants with valuable advice about avoiding infection and reducing the severity of COVID-19. On top of this, we will evaluate interventions aimed at offsetting people’s over-optimism, which otherwise might prevent them from taking enough protective measures. This RCT aims to test whether interventions that offset people’s over-optimism can improve the effectiveness of information provision and correspondingly improve health. One immediate impact will be to provide all study participants with valuable advice about avoiding infection and reducing the severity of COVID-19. On top of this, we will evaluate interventions aimed at offsetting people’s over-optimism, which otherwise might prevent them from taking enough protective measures.


Affordable, High-quality Pre-primary Education in India: Evaluating Hippocampus Learning Centres’ Social Impact on Children and Teachers

PI: Seema Jayachandran

Year Start: 2015

Year End: Ongoing

Status: Data Collection

Methodology: RCT

Partner: J-PAL South Asia, HLC

Description: This study aims to develop a set of randomized evaluations with Hippocampus Learning Centres (HLC), a social enterprise based in the state of Karnataka, India, that runs low-cost, high-quality preschools/kindergartens (“learning centers”) in villages with the goal of improving early child development (ECD) and readiness for primary school.

The randomized evaluations will (1) measure the impacts of having a job outside the home on the autonomy, well-being and social identity of 18-20 year-old women in India, a setting with exceptionally low female employment; (2) test whether peer mentoring can increase women's job performance and attachment to the labor force; and (3) measure the impact of attending an HLC on cognitive and psycho-social development, readiness for primary school and performance in Class 1 in India. 


Hippocampus Learning Centres: Increasing Female Employment

PI: Seema Jayachandran

Year Start: 2017

Year End: Ongoing

Status: Data Collection

Methodology: RCT

Partners: J-PAL South Asia, HLC

Description: The purpose of this study is to examine how social networks — such as family networks and peer/professional networks — influence a teacher’s decision to continue or terminate employment. A randomized controlled trial design is used to evaluate whether interventions designed to increase support for female employment among people in that woman’s social network affect her employment decisions, job satisfaction, self-esteem and related outcomes.


Evaluation of Breakthrough School-Based Gender Mobilization Campaign

PI: Seema Jayachandran

Year Start: 2013

Year End: Ongoing

Status: Data Collection

Methodology: RCT

Partners: J-PAL South Asia

Description: This study uses a randomized controlled trial design to evaluate an innovative school-based awareness and mobilization program aimed at promoting gender equality. More broadly, by surveying students and a subset of students’ parents in both the control and treatment groups, we will attempt to shed light on how adolescents' attitudes about gender equality can be changed (e.g., through the mobilization program, involvement in other school activities, etc.) and what other factors besides their attitudes determine their treatment of women (e.g., community leaders' views).

 

Namibia Projects

Impact Evaluation of “Community-Based Rangeland and Livestock Management”

PI: Dean Karlan

Year Start: 2010

Year End: 2017

Status: Data Analysis

Methodology: RCT

Partners: GOPA Consultants

Description: In parts of southern Africa, environmental pressure on the land from over-grazing has contributed to land and water shortages and made communities more vulnerable to drought. In Namibia, researchers are measuring the impact of a community-based natural resource management program on livestock assets, income, social cohesion and land quality.

 

The Philippines Projects

Character Development Among Ultra-Poor Filipinos

PI: Dean Karlan

Year Start: 2014

Year End: 2017

Status: Data Analysis

Methodology: RCT

Partners: International Care Ministries

Description: This study seeks to understand the effects of religion and character development on poverty alleviation through an innovative evaluation of International Care Ministries’ Transform Program.

 

Syria Projects

Syrian Refugees’ Determinants of Return

PI: Lori Beaman

Year Started: 2018

Year Ended: Ongoing

Status: Data Analysis

Methodology: Administrative Data Analysis

Partners: UNHCR

Description: The purpose of this study is to analyze the determinants of return of Syrian refugees who had fled their place of origin due to the ongoing conflict in Syria. The study will use administrative data provided by UNHCR on demographic, geographic, intention to return, and assistance characteristics of households in UNHCR’s service area in the MENA region. The goal is to use this data to perform statistical analysis to identify variables and therefore push/pull factors which predict spontaneous return of refugees — that is, individuals who have already chosen to return to Syria.

 

Uganda Projects

Cash for Carbon: A Randomized Trial of Payments for Ecosystem Services to Reduce Deforestation

PI: Seema Jayachandran

Year Start: 2011

Year End: Ongoing

Status: Published

Methodology:  RCT

Partners: National Environment Management Authority of Uganda (NEMA);  Chimpanzee Sanctuary and Wildlife Conservation Trust (CSWCT); IPA

Description: This study evaluates a program of payments for ecosystem services in Uganda that offered forest-owning households annual payments of 70,000 Ugandan shillings per hectare if they conserved their forest. The primary outcome is the change in land area covered by trees, measured by classifying high-resolution satellite imagery. During the two-year study period, tree cover declined by 4.2% in treatment villages, compared to 9.1% in control villages. There was no evidence that enrollees shifted their deforestation to nearby land.

 

USA Projects

Commit to Quit: Commitment Contracts for Smoking Cessation

PI: Dean Karlan

Year Started: 2018

Year Ended: Ongoing

Status: Planning

Methodology: RCT

Partners: IPA, NUCATS, Quest Labs

Description: This study will examine how advance commitment to a commitment contract impacts smoking cessation rates, by affecting the likelihood of taking up a commitment contract.

 

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