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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.

Teaching business skills to support microentrepreneurs

Last updated: 
December 2019
Business skills training programs increased microentrepreneurs’ use of business best practices, but in most cases, there were no significant changes in their profits. Alternative programs that are tailored to participants’ needs or foster an entrepreneurial mindset have shown more promising results than traditional programs. Read More

Supporting firm growth through consulting and business training

Last updated: 
December 2019
Consulting and business training programs increased the use of management best practices which improved productivity among small, medium, and large firms. More research is needed to understand why firms do not choose to use these services themselves. Read More

Encouraging residential energy efficiency

Last updated: 
November 2019
Programs that encouraged investments in residential energy efficiency had limited returns in several impact evaluations in real-world settings. Relatively small impacts on energy savings coupled with low take-up meant that encouraging these investments through information campaigns and subsidies was not a cost-effective strategy to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Read More

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
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