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Tests of character: How personality testing could help financial inclusion

Tests of character: How personality testing could help financial inclusion

October 1, 2016

In rich countries, lenders use credit scores to weigh risk. But just 7% of Africans and 13% of South Asians are covered by private credit bureaus. Bailey Klinger of the Entrepreneurial Finance Lab (EFL), which explores new kinds of credit data, argues that psychometrics could scoop many more people into the financial system. Judging character is not new. Psychometrics attempts to make it a science. EFL began life as a research initiative at Harvard. The model used by Creditinfo, a rival firm, was developed with help from Cambridge.

After the hajj: Mecca residents grow hostile to changes in the holy city

After the hajj: Mecca residents grow hostile to changes in the holy city

September 14, 2016

As millions of hajj pilgrims return home, Mecca’s two million locals are left struggling with the impacts of their changing city. According to Jawaher al-Sudairy, a Saudi academic at Harvard’s Kennedy SchoolMecca’s residents have had to continually “adjust their income, employment and way of life” to adapt to a city that is increasingly trying to erase them. And this attempt to [change] the city … is creating hostility,” Jawaher says.

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Understaffed, Underserved: Human Problems Of India’s Public-Health System

September 7, 2016

In the public debate over how to ensure high-quality public services for all Indians, vacancies must stand alongside absenteeism as a critical area for improvement. Until these vacancies are filled, infrastructure investments and financial safety nets will fall short of ensuring adequate access to quality healthcare for the poorest Indians.
Prateek Mittal is a Research Associate and Vartika Singh is a Research Manager for Evidence for Policy Design (EPoD) India at IFMR.

Working 'Smart' in Saudi Arabia

Working 'Smart' in Saudi Arabia

August 24, 2016

An interview with MEI Faculty Affiliate Asim Khwaja - Sumitomo-Foundation for Advanced Studies on International Development Professor of International Finance and Development at Harvard Kennedy School - on his work as Co-Director of Evidence for Policy Design (EPoD) at Harvard Kennedy School's Center for International Development with the Saudi Ministry of Labor on labor market policy in KSA, as well as EPoD's Smart Policy Design and Implementation methodology and the implications for the future of informed, iterative policymaking. 

Hillary Wouldn’t Be the First Female American President

Hillary Wouldn’t Be the First Female American President

August 1, 2016

By Robin Wright - The New Yorker

“More than half of the countries in the world have implemented some type of political quota,” Rohini Pande and Deanna Ford, of Harvard’s Kennedy School, write. “They have led to a dramatic increase in female leaders across the globe.”

Less work and more pray...

Less work and more pray...

July 2, 2016

The Economist

But Messrs Campante and Yanagizawa-Drott found that the most important reason for lower growth was that Muslims choose to work fewer hours. They are seemingly no less productive in years when fasts are longer. Surveys indicate that during those years they value work less and religion and leisure more. “You could say it is a healthy shift in attitudes,” says Mr Yanagizawa-Drott.

Why Small Farmers In Tamil Nadu Borrow Money At 60% Interest

Why Small Farmers In Tamil Nadu Borrow Money At 60% Interest

July 1, 2016

By Suraj Nair - IndiaSpend

For millions of small and marginal farmers across Tamil Nadu, a state ravaged by the monsoon’s growing vagaries, the story is the same. Their state is at the forefront of India’s financial-inclusion drive, but for Tamil Nadu’s small and marginal farmers, agricultural credit from formal institutions remains notoriously hard to secure.

Could a smartphone app give Pakistan the push it needs to be polio-free?

Could a smartphone app give Pakistan the push it needs to be polio-free?

June 22, 2016

By Shehryar Nabi - Dawn

Despite being closer than they have ever been to reaching their polio-free goal, the government's campaigns still have some problems: areas are often missed by health workers and unvaccinated children continue to fall through the cracks. [...] Researchers from UC San Diego, Harvard, University of Southern California and UC Berkley pitched an initiative to the Punjab government with an aim to understand health worker behaviour.

Caught in the middle

Caught in the middle

June 4, 2016

The Economist

Big and tiny firms often find it easier to borrow than medium-sized ones [...] The Entrepreneurial Finance Lab, a spin-off from a research initiative at Harvard University, is trying out psychometric testing as a way of assessing credit risk. Would-be borrowers complete a short online survey and the software quickly generates an alternative credit score, based on attributes like conscientiousness and confidence. “We want to collateralise people’s human capital,” says Asim Khwaja, a Harvard professor and co-founder of the project.

April wasn't January

April wasn't January

May 13, 2016

By Anant Sudarshan, Santosh Harish, Michael Greenstone, and Rohini Pande - The Indian Express

Neither pollution nor congestion significantly decreased as they did during the January experiment. An enduring solution lies in scaling up the smaller, successful programmes.