News, ideas, and analysis from J-PAL staff and affiliated professors. Subscribe to our newsletter to receive monthly email updates.

Tanya Sethi, J-PAL ’14, is tackling the big questions in aid and policy

Wednesday, January 8, 2020, by Gaëlle Conille, Siena Harlin, and Tanya Sethi

In the next installment of our Alumni Spotlight series, we speak with Tanya Sethi, a former senior policy associate at J-PAL South Asia. Tanya joined J-PAL South Asia’s policy team after receiving a master’s degree in public policy from the Paris School of Economics. At J-PAL South Asia, she played a key role in an early partnership with the Government of Tamil Nadu and helped lay the conceptual groundwork for important program scale-ups. Now a senior policy analyst at AidData, she reflects on her path to international development, the challenges associated with bridging the gap between evidence and policy, and the dynamic nature of policy research. Read More

A year in blogs: Reflecting on 2019 through the eyes of staff, affiliates, and partners

Wednesday, January 8, 2020, by Siena Harlin

In 2019 we launched new initiatives to spur innovative research, admitted the first-ever cohort of blended Masters’ students, celebrated our founders’ and affiliate’s Nobel Prize win, and much more. It’s almost impossible to capture the breadth and depth of what our staff, affiliates, and partners have learned and achieved over the last year. Read More

Kristen Watkins, J-PAL ’19, is helping shape upward mobility research in the United States

Wednesday, January 8, 2020, by Gaëlle Conille, Siena Harlin, and Kristen Watkins

In this installment of our Alumni Spotlight series, we caught up with Kristen Watkins, a former policy manager at J-PAL North America. Kristen joined J-PAL in 2017 to lead the Creating Moves to Opportunity project, an influential research partnership between J-PAL affiliated researchers and public housing authorities in the United States. Now the chief operating officer at Opportunity Insights, Kristen shares some reflections on her work at J-PAL and Opportunity Insights, and on how her background in city planning and the private sector informs her approach to social policy research. Read More

J-PAL launches new Inclusive Financial Innovation Initiative in Southeast Asia

Friday, January 3, 2020, by Samantha Carter, Aliyyah Rusdinar, Simone Schaner, and Caroline Tangoren

The digital financial services (DFS) sector is among the fastest-growing: the number of financial technology (“fintech”) companies in Indonesia more than doubled from 130 in 2017 to more than 320 in 2019. In addition to this rapid growth in the private sector, the Indonesian government is increasingly moving towards digital delivery of social assistance programs in the public sector.

J-PAL Southeast Asia, based at the Faculty of Business and Management at the University of Indonesia, is launching the Inclusive Financial Innovation Initiative to answer important policy questions now at the forefront of the region’s economic growth. With the support of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the three-year initiative aims to ensure that digital financial services can drive economic development while lifting up women, low-income groups, and marginalized communities. Read More

Saving for the future: Facilitating success for a common resolution

Friday, January 3, 2020, by Samantha Carter

At the start of a new year, many people around the world set resolutions to improve their lives over the course of the year: to eat healthier food, to be kinder, and to quit smoking, to name just a few. Many resolutions are bound to fade over time—one common statistic claims that only 8 percent of Americans actually achieve the resolutions they set at the beginning of the year. But evidence from a wide body of research provides us with insights that can help us achieve our goals. Read More

From evidence to policy: Three lessons for philanthropy from this year’s Nobel Prize

Thursday, December 19, 2019, by Iqbal Dhaliwal and Samantha Friedlander

This article was originally published in The Center for Effective Philanthropy.

Abhijit Banerjee, Esther Duflo, and Michael Kremer recently won the 2019 Nobel Prize in Economics for their “experimental approach to alleviating global poverty.” But while attention has focused on their experimental methodologies, the policy action resulting from their research is equally significant. In fact, the award specifically mentions their work to fight poverty in practice,... Read More

New year, new partnerships to scale life-changing programs

Wednesday, December 18, 2019, by Mary Ann Bates

In recent years, the United States Internal Revenue Service (IRS) redesigned the reminder notification letters that now reach more than 360,000 individuals eligible for the earned income tax credit (EITC), giving them millions of dollars in earned benefits. This change was in response to a randomized evaluation which found that follow-up mailings to people who failed to claim the EITC ($26 million in forgone benefits) increased responses by... Read More