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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 Scale-Ups page.

Reducing the cost of lending to low-income borrowers

Last updated: 
April 2018
Product and market innovations that generate more information about borrowers, reduce transaction costs, and encourage repayment all address factors that contribute to the high cost of microcredit in low- and middle-income countries. Read More
Girl at school

Increasing student enrollment and attendance: impacts by gender

Last updated: 
April 2018
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
Young men with sit with hands on their chests

Reducing criminal behavior through cognitive behavioral therapy

Last updated: 
April 2018
Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) can reduce criminal behavior among both at-risk youth and criminally engaged men, likely by helping them focus more on the future, change their self-perceptions, and/or slow their decision-making. Read More
Political posters in India

Improving women’s representation in politics through gender quotas

Last updated: 
April 2018
Gender quotas for women in local government bodies can improve women’s representation in politics, increase provision of public services, and improve perceptions of women as leaders. Read More

Increasing enrollment and attendance by making education benefits salient and changing perceptions

Last updated: 
April 2018
Interventions that address perception gaps about the benefits of education or make the benefits more salient can increase student participation at low cost. In contrast, increases in the quality of education can be difficult for parents to accurately perceive and thus do not necessarily lead to increases in enrollment or attendance. Read More
College students

Increasing college access by making the application process easier

Last updated: 
February 2018
Relatively low-cost programs to simplify the college application process and support students through this transition can increase college enrollment and persistence in the United States and Canada. Personalized assistance, timely reminders, and fee waivers were key components of effective programs. Read More
Students work on white board

Charter schools and student learning

Last updated: 
May 2017
In the United States, the estimated impacts of charter schools have varied widely. In Massachusetts, students who won lotteries for charter schools located in urban areas often did substantially better than students who lost; while students who won lotteries for charter schools in nonurban areas fared, on average, about the same or somewhat worse compared to those who lost. A common feature of the charter schools with the most positive effects has been the adoption of a “No Excuses” educational... Read More