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Policy Insights

What have we learned from randomized evaluations that policymakers, practitioners, and funders can use to improve social programs? J-PAL’s Policy Insights, organized by sector, highlight lessons emerging across multiple studies and the mechanisms that help explain the results.

J-PAL’s Sector Chairs and staff draw these insights from relevant randomized evaluations, updating and adding insights as the body of evidence grows. Each Policy Insight briefly summarizes their perspective on the evidence on a specific topic, with links to the original research and policy summaries. Read this blog post for more information about how we develop Policy Insights.

When combined with a detailed understanding of context and program implementation, we hope these insights can be practical inputs for policy and program design. For examples of how insights from randomized evaluations have informed policy, visit our Evidence to Policy page.

The limited impact of US workplace wellness programs on health and employment-related outcomes

Last updated: 
September 2019
Two randomized evaluations of workplace wellness programs in the US found limited impact on employees’ health habits and no impact on their health, employment, or health care costs in the initial years, contrary to previous observational studies. This could be because the programs are not effective or because the types of employees who stand to benefit more from workplace wellness programs did not participate. Read More

Facilitating savings among smallholder farmers to smooth or increase consumption

Last updated: 
May 2019
Offering savings products to smallholder farmers did not transform agricultural investment or output in six studies in sub-Saharan Africa. In a few cases, savings products sometimes benefited farmers by providing a form of risk protection and by helping them smooth consumption over time. Read More
Image: Elections in Nagpur, India

The risks and rewards of voter information campaigns in low- and middle-income countries

Last updated: 
March 2019
Providing information on candidates’ qualifications, policy positions, and performance in office can affect voter turnout and who people vote for. In lower-income countries, this type of information has been most effective when it was widely disseminated from a credible source. Read More

Reducing costs to increase school participation

Last updated: 
February 2019
Programs that reduce the costs of education increase student enrollment and attendance. However, there is considerable variation in the cost effectiveness of different programs. Read More
Une petite fille dans une école primaire en Inde.

Increasing student enrollment and attendance: impacts by gender

Last updated: 
February 2019
Reducing the costs and increasing the perceived benefits of education increase student participation for both boys and girls, and successful programs tend to help the gender with the lowest initial attendance most. Read More

Changing resumes to reduce hiring discrimination

Last updated: 
February 2019
Randomized evaluations show strong evidence of hiring discrimination against minority and underrepresented groups in many countries, with most evidence so far coming from developed countries. Where it has been tested using randomization, removing identifying information on job applications had perverse effects on minority applicants if firms were already more likely to hire them or if firms discriminated on other characteristics after some information was removed, but more research is needed. Read More

Reducing adolescent pregnancy by increasing educational and economic opportunities in low- and middle-income countries

Last updated: 
January 2019
Interventions that changed perceptions about girls’ abilities and opportunities or increased the educational and economic opportunities available to them encouraged girls and young women to delay pregnancy. Read More