About us

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About us

The Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab (J-PAL) is a global research center working to reduce poverty by ensuring that policy is informed by scientific evidence. Anchored by a network of 158 affiliated professors at universities around the world, J-PAL draws on results from randomized impact evaluations to answer critical questions in the fight against poverty.

Research

At J-PAL, we believe investing in rigorous research is essential to finding solutions to the world’s greatest challenges. Working with implementing partners, J-PAL’s affiliated professors conduct randomized impact evaluations to test and improve the effectiveness of social programs.

J-PAL affiliates have conducted more than 800 randomized evaluations across a diverse range of topics, from clean water to microfinance to crime prevention. The research group at J-PAL helps create the infrastructure necessary to support our affiliates’ research around the world.

Research staff forge relationships with implementers on the ground and contribute to the design of survey instruments, data collection, statistical analysis, and data publishing. Together, affiliated professors and research staff have established J-PAL as a leader in running high-quality impact evaluations.

We also create practical research resources and make them accessible to all. We focus on tools designed to help researchers develop and carry out randomized evaluations, and to support those teaching the method to others.

Our comprehensive resource library features evaluation manuals, templates and examples of different analysis and survey tools, coding tools for STATA, guidelines on ethics and transparency, and sample lecture slides and case studies. J-PAL also provides affiliated professors with grants and technical assistance to promote research transparency.

In addition to generating research resources, J-PAL staff serve as “matchmakers,” helping connect affiliates with implementing partners to catalyze new research and innovation. Our funding initiatives for affiliated professors support randomized evaluations that seek solutions to policy challenges in governance, post-primary education, healthcare delivery, and child health, among other topics.

In this way, J-PAL research contributes to the ecosystem of knowledge and evidence on key questions in social policy and international development.

Policy Outreach

J-PAL translates research into action, promoting a culture of evidence-informed policymaking around the world. Our policy analysis and outreach helps governments, NGOs, donors, and the private sector apply evidence from randomized evaluations to their work, and contributes to public discourse around some of the most pressing questions in social policy and international development.

J-PAL bridges gaps between researchers and policymakers. We understand that for data and research to be influential, it must address local priorities and be accessible to decision-makers.

We work with J-PAL affiliated professors to distill results from rigorous impact evaluations into lessons that are clear, concise, and relevant to policymakers. With an in-depth understanding of the landscape of high-quality scientific research, we develop and disseminate cross-cutting policy insights and work with partners to create frameworks for scaling up effective programs.

J-PAL also builds partnerships with governments, NGOs, and high-level decision-makers to share frameworks for applying global evidence to local contexts, and to support use of evidence to drive policy reform. This includes providing funding, technical assistance, and embedded staff to help shape programs and policies that deliver results.

To date, J-PAL’s research and policy outreach work has contributed to cost-effective programs being scaled up to reach more than 300 million people, from Kenya to Indonesia to France.

Education and Training

With a focus on learning and innovation, J-PAL works to build the capacity of researchers who produce evidence, policymakers and donors who use it, and advocates of evidence-informed policy. We create university-level open online courses and deliver in-person training programs around the world that help people become better producers and users of scientific evidence.

While the idea of impact evaluations is intuitively simple, following rigorous methods is important to ensure that research is of the highest quality and relevant to policymakers.

J-PAL’s suite of training resources includes in-person Executive Education courses, customized workshops for governments and other partners, and several free online courses.

At our trainings for policy partners, participants discuss the importance of needs assessments, theories of change, effective outcome measurements, quality control, and monitoring, all tools that are critical for conducting impact evaluations. Trainings also help decision-makers distinguish high-quality evidence from low-quality evidence.

Many of our lecture videos, case studies, and other teaching resources are available online at no cost.

J-PAL and MIT Economics have also developed a series of rigorous online courses to educate learners on use of data in policymaking as part of the MITx MicroMasters in Data, Economics, and Development Policy.

Through online courses and in-person exams, MicroMasters participants gain a strong foundation in microeconomics, development economics, and probability and statistics, and engage with cutting-edge research in the field. Most MicroMasters courses are taught by MIT professors and are open to all who are interested in using evidence to promote effective policies and programs.

History

The Poverty Action Lab was founded in 2003 at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) by professors Abhijit Banerjee, Esther Duflo, and Sendhil Mullainathan, with the goal of transforming how the world approaches the challenges of global poverty. In 2005 the lab was named in honor of Abdul Latif Jameel, the father of MIT alumnus Mohammed Abdul Latif Jameel.

Today, J-PAL’s core staff includes more than 300 research, policy, education, and training professionals across seven offices worldwide.

Our work is generously supported by foundations, governments, and individuals. Major donors include Community Jameel, The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, The Laura and John Arnold Foundation, The Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, the UK Department for International Development, and the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

History

2003

The Poverty Action Lab is founded at the Department of Economics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology by professors Abhijit Banerjee, Esther Duflo, and Sendhil Mullainathan. The objective of the center is to support the use of randomized evaluations, to train others in rigorous scientific evaluation methods, and to encourage policy changes based on results of randomized evaluations. That same year, the lab begins a close partnership with Innovations for Poverty Action (IPA), a nonprofit founded by J-PAL affiliate Dean Karlan.

Since then, we have grown into a global network of researchers who use randomized evaluations to answer critical policy questions in the fight against poverty.

2004

Executive Director Rachel Glennerster in the field

Rachel Glennerster joins as executive director.

2005

Newspaper headline reads: "Alumnus makes 5 major endowments to support MIT Poverty Action Lab"

MIT alumnus Mohammed Abdul Latif Jameel backs the Poverty Action Lab with three major endowments, and the Lab is re-named in honor of his late father, Abdul Latif Jameel. Thanks to his support, J-PAL is able to grow significantly in the following years.

J-PAL establishes its training group, and provides its first executive education courses in Cambridge (USA) and Chennai (India).

2006

Two men look over finances

J-PAL receives core support from the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, the Nike Foundation, Russ Siegelman, and the Doug B. Marshall Jr. Foundation.

2007

Boy does arithmetic on chalkboard in India

J-PAL South Asia is established at the Institute for Financial Management and Research in Chennai, India, with support of the Mulago Foundation.

J-PAL partners with the Young Global Leaders group to launch a scale-up initiative, Deworm the World, at the World Economic Forum in Davos.

2008

Participants at a training in France

J-PAL Europe is launched at the Paris School of Economics in an effort to promote the use of randomized evaluations in rich countries.

J-PAL receives the BBVA Foundation Frontiers of Knowledge Award for Development Cooperation. The awards seek to recognize and encourage world-class research and artistic creation, prizing contributions of lasting impact for their originality, theoretical significance and ability to push the frontiers of the world.

2009

J-PAL creates a dedicated policy group to create new policy content, disseminate knowledge about “what works” in poverty alleviation and partner with policymakers to scale up programs that have been found to be effective by J-PAL affiliated professors’ research.

J-PAL Latin America and Caribbean is founded at the Pontifícia Universidad Católica in Santiago, Chile with the support of the Colunga Foundation.

The Agricultural Technology Adoption Initiative (ATAI) is launched with the Center for Effective Global Action (CEGA) at the University of California, Berkeley, with support from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

2010

A woman conducts a mobile money transfer

J-PAL Africa is established at the Southern Africa Labour and Development Research Unit (SALDRU) at the University of Cape Town in South Africa with support from The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation.

J-PAL creates a Board of Directors to provide overall strategic guidance and also help expand activities in research, capacity building, and policy outreach.

2011

Man presents theory of change as part of CLEAR training

The Regional Centers for Learning on Evaluation and Results (CLEAR) is established at J-PAL South Asia with support from the World Bank to strengthen the monitoring and evaluation capacity of governments and civil societies.

J-PAL assembles the Compass Commission, a group of international and local academics who will identify the major social policy challenges in Chile and propose innovative programs and their evaluations to the Government.

J-PAL begins long-term partnership with India’s National Academy of Administration to conduct evidence workshops and trainings on impact evaluations for senior civil servants of the Indian Administrative Service (IAS).

J-PAL’s research is organized in seven sectorsAgricultureEducationEnvironment and EnergyFinance and MicrofinanceHealthLabor Markets, and Political Economy and Governance.

The Governance Initiative (GI) and the Urban Services Initiative (USI) are launched with support from The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation and the UK Department for International Development, and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation respectively.

2012

Group of people stand in government office

J-PAL LAC and its partners Enterprise Solutions to Poverty (SEP), Innovations for Poverty Action (IPA), the Ministry of Economy and Finance (MEF), and the Ministry of Social Development and Inclusion of Peru (MIDIS) of Peru assembles the Quipu Commission to generate evidence that the government can use to design and implement better social policies.

Ben Olken joins as the fourth Director of J-PAL.

The Youth Initiative (YI) and the Post-Primary Education (PPE) are launched with support from the Nike Foundation, and Echidna Giving, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, the Douglas B. Marshall, Jr. Family Foundation, and the UK Department for International Development.

2013

Group of people stand in front of 'J-PAL Southeast Asia Launch' banner

The President of Indonesia inaugurates J-PAL Southeast Asia which is established at the Institute for Economic and Social Research at the University of Indonesia with support from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade of the Australian Government.

J-PAL North America opens at the Department of Economics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) with support from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation and the Laura and John Arnold Foundation.

J-PAL begins long-term partnership with the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning of Rwanda to discuss scientific evidence and how their development policies can be informed.

2014

Laptop open to EdX J-PAL 101x course page 

J-PAL launches an online version of the Executive Education course on edX, J-PAL101x: Evaluating Social Programs. Over 12,000 students from nearly 180 countries registered for the first course, and nearly 1,000 received certificates of completion.

J-PAL receives the Albert O. Hirschman Prize from the Social Science Research Council in recognition of their commitment to producing new social scientific knowledge that confronts deep practical and ethical issues.

J-PAL begins long-term partnership with the Government of Tamil Nadu to institutionalize the use of evidence in policymaking by evaluating innovative programs, strengthening monitoring systems, and enhancing the officials’ capacity to produce and use scientific evidence. 

J-PAL LAC and IPA begin a partnership with the Ministry of Education of Peru to implement an Education Lab (MineduLab) to design and evaluate low-cost, innovative, interventions to improve learning outcomes.

J-PAL launches the Crime and Criminal Justice sector.

J-PAL North America launches the U.S. Health Care Delivery Initiative with support from The Laura and John Arnold Foundation and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

2015

Panel of policymakers and researchers at a conference

J-PAL launches the Government Partnership Initiative (GPI) with support from Community Jameel, to build long-term partnerships between governments, J-PAL offices, and affiliated researchers to increase the use of evidence in policymaking. The initiative supports partnerships with governments to design and evaluate policies and programs, scale up policies already evaluated and found to be effective, and institutionalize the use of evidence in policy more broadly.

J-PAL North America launches a new State and Local Innovation Initiative that will partner US state and local governments with leading academic researchers from J-PAL’s global network to find evidence-informed solutions to challenging social problems.

2016

J-PAL and MIT’s Department of Economics announce an innovative online MITx MicroMasters credential in Data, Economics, and Development Policy (DEDP), as well as a unique blended MIT Master’s program in DEDP, which combines online learning with one semester in residence at MIT.

J-PAL receives a grant from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation and Laura and John Arnold Foundation to improve research quality, reproduce research results on a large scale, and launch online training programs for transparency and data security.

J-PAL’s new website makes it easier and faster to search the database of over 700 randomized evaluations, explore in-depth policy lessons and scale-up stories, and offers a brand new library of research resources with everything from sample randomization code to field manuals.

To date, over 300 million people worldwide have been reached by scale-ups of programs evaluated by J-PAL affiliates and found to be effective. J-PAL works with over 20 governments in 11 countries to institutionalize the use of evidence in decision-making.

2003
2004
2005
2006
2007
2008
2009
2010
2011
2012
2013
2014
2015
2016
2003

The Poverty Action Lab is founded at the Department of Economics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology by professors Abhijit Banerjee, Esther Duflo, and Sendhil Mullainathan. The objective of the center is to support the use of randomized evaluations, to train others in rigorous scientific evaluation methods, and to encourage policy changes based on results of randomized evaluations. That same year, the lab begins a close partnership with Innovations for Poverty Action (IPA), a nonprofit founded by J-PAL affiliate Dean Karlan.

Since then, we have grown into a global network of researchers who use randomized evaluations to answer critical policy questions in the fight against poverty.

2004

Executive Director Rachel Glennerster in the field

Rachel Glennerster joins as executive director.

2005

Newspaper headline reads: "Alumnus makes 5 major endowments to support MIT Poverty Action Lab"

MIT alumnus Mohammed Abdul Latif Jameel backs the Poverty Action Lab with three major endowments, and the Lab is re-named in honor of his late father, Abdul Latif Jameel. Thanks to his support, J-PAL is able to grow significantly in the following years.

J-PAL establishes its training group, and provides its first executive education courses in Cambridge (USA) and Chennai (India).

2006

Two men look over finances

J-PAL receives core support from the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, the Nike Foundation, Russ Siegelman, and the Doug B. Marshall Jr. Foundation.

2007

Boy does arithmetic on chalkboard in India

J-PAL South Asia is established at the Institute for Financial Management and Research in Chennai, India, with support of the Mulago Foundation.

J-PAL partners with the Young Global Leaders group to launch a scale-up initiative, Deworm the World, at the World Economic Forum in Davos.

2008

Participants at a training in France

J-PAL Europe is launched at the Paris School of Economics in an effort to promote the use of randomized evaluations in rich countries.

J-PAL receives the BBVA Foundation Frontiers of Knowledge Award for Development Cooperation. The awards seek to recognize and encourage world-class research and artistic creation, prizing contributions of lasting impact for their originality, theoretical significance and ability to push the frontiers of the world.

2009

J-PAL creates a dedicated policy group to create new policy content, disseminate knowledge about “what works” in poverty alleviation and partner with policymakers to scale up programs that have been found to be effective by J-PAL affiliated professors’ research.

J-PAL Latin America and Caribbean is founded at the Pontifícia Universidad Católica in Santiago, Chile with the support of the Colunga Foundation.

The Agricultural Technology Adoption Initiative (ATAI) is launched with the Center for Effective Global Action (CEGA) at the University of California, Berkeley, with support from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

2010

A woman conducts a mobile money transfer

J-PAL Africa is established at the Southern Africa Labour and Development Research Unit (SALDRU) at the University of Cape Town in South Africa with support from The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation.

J-PAL creates a Board of Directors to provide overall strategic guidance and also help expand activities in research, capacity building, and policy outreach.

2011

Man presents theory of change as part of CLEAR training

The Regional Centers for Learning on Evaluation and Results (CLEAR) is established at J-PAL South Asia with support from the World Bank to strengthen the monitoring and evaluation capacity of governments and civil societies.

J-PAL assembles the Compass Commission, a group of international and local academics who will identify the major social policy challenges in Chile and propose innovative programs and their evaluations to the Government.

J-PAL begins long-term partnership with India’s National Academy of Administration to conduct evidence workshops and trainings on impact evaluations for senior civil servants of the Indian Administrative Service (IAS).

J-PAL’s research is organized in seven sectorsAgricultureEducationEnvironment and EnergyFinance and MicrofinanceHealthLabor Markets, and Political Economy and Governance.

The Governance Initiative (GI) and the Urban Services Initiative (USI) are launched with support from The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation and the UK Department for International Development, and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation respectively.

2012

Group of people stand in government office

J-PAL LAC and its partners Enterprise Solutions to Poverty (SEP), Innovations for Poverty Action (IPA), the Ministry of Economy and Finance (MEF), and the Ministry of Social Development and Inclusion of Peru (MIDIS) of Peru assembles the Quipu Commission to generate evidence that the government can use to design and implement better social policies.

Ben Olken joins as the fourth Director of J-PAL.

The Youth Initiative (YI) and the Post-Primary Education (PPE) are launched with support from the Nike Foundation, and Echidna Giving, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, the Douglas B. Marshall, Jr. Family Foundation, and the UK Department for International Development.

2013

Group of people stand in front of 'J-PAL Southeast Asia Launch' banner

The President of Indonesia inaugurates J-PAL Southeast Asia which is established at the Institute for Economic and Social Research at the University of Indonesia with support from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade of the Australian Government.

J-PAL North America opens at the Department of Economics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) with support from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation and the Laura and John Arnold Foundation.

J-PAL begins long-term partnership with the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning of Rwanda to discuss scientific evidence and how their development policies can be informed.

2014

Laptop open to EdX J-PAL 101x course page 

J-PAL launches an online version of the Executive Education course on edX, J-PAL101x: Evaluating Social Programs. Over 12,000 students from nearly 180 countries registered for the first course, and nearly 1,000 received certificates of completion.

J-PAL receives the Albert O. Hirschman Prize from the Social Science Research Council in recognition of their commitment to producing new social scientific knowledge that confronts deep practical and ethical issues.

J-PAL begins long-term partnership with the Government of Tamil Nadu to institutionalize the use of evidence in policymaking by evaluating innovative programs, strengthening monitoring systems, and enhancing the officials’ capacity to produce and use scientific evidence. 

J-PAL LAC and IPA begin a partnership with the Ministry of Education of Peru to implement an Education Lab (MineduLab) to design and evaluate low-cost, innovative, interventions to improve learning outcomes.

J-PAL launches the Crime and Criminal Justice sector.

J-PAL North America launches the U.S. Health Care Delivery Initiative with support from The Laura and John Arnold Foundation and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

2015

Panel of policymakers and researchers at a conference

J-PAL launches the Government Partnership Initiative (GPI) with support from Community Jameel, to build long-term partnerships between governments, J-PAL offices, and affiliated researchers to increase the use of evidence in policymaking. The initiative supports partnerships with governments to design and evaluate policies and programs, scale up policies already evaluated and found to be effective, and institutionalize the use of evidence in policy more broadly.

J-PAL North America launches a new State and Local Innovation Initiative that will partner US state and local governments with leading academic researchers from J-PAL’s global network to find evidence-informed solutions to challenging social problems.

2016

J-PAL and MIT’s Department of Economics announce an innovative online MITx MicroMasters credential in Data, Economics, and Development Policy (DEDP), as well as a unique blended MIT Master’s program in DEDP, which combines online learning with one semester in residence at MIT.

J-PAL receives a grant from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation and Laura and John Arnold Foundation to improve research quality, reproduce research results on a large scale, and launch online training programs for transparency and data security.

J-PAL’s new website makes it easier and faster to search the database of over 700 randomized evaluations, explore in-depth policy lessons and scale-up stories, and offers a brand new library of research resources with everything from sample randomization code to field manuals.

To date, over 300 million people worldwide have been reached by scale-ups of programs evaluated by J-PAL affiliates and found to be effective. J-PAL works with over 20 governments in 11 countries to institutionalize the use of evidence in decision-making.