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Delhi's air pollution: What China got right and where we fall behind

Delhi's air pollution: What China got right and where we fall behind

November 21, 2016

Delhi’s smog may have made national headlines in early November 2016–when air-quality levels exceeded by 40 times safe limits set by the World Health Organization (WHO)–and subsequently receded from public attention. But as IndiaSpend was interviewing Pallavi Aiyer, author of ‘Choked’, a new book that investigates Delhi and India’s air-pollution crisis, the air was unhealthy or worse in the majority of 17 cities where our sensors are installed.

‘95% Of China’s Power Plants Have Pollution Filters, In India, 10% Do’

‘95% Of China’s Power Plants Have Pollution Filters, In India, 10% Do’

November 21, 2016

Aiyer, a journalist who’s lived and reported from some of the most polluted cities in the world, including Beijing and Jakarta, argues that many countries have been in India’s situation, and India would do well to learn from their experiences.
Data analysis by Eric Dodge & Rohini Pande at the Evidence for Policy Design (EPoD) at Harvard Kennedy School. 

Your inflexible friend

Your inflexible friend

October 8, 2016

An experiment in Kolkata by two American researchers, Erica Field and Rohini Pande, found that offering borrowers a grace period of just two months at the beginning of a microloan doubled the rate at which new businesses were created. Borrowers were able to take bigger risks, which brought bigger rewards on average. After three years business profits were 41% higher and household incomes were up by 19.5%. If microlending could routinely deliver results like that, it would still be the height of fashion.

Making Microfinance More Effective

Making Microfinance More Effective

October 5, 2016

Traditional microcredit hasn’t lived up to expectations, but we are learning how to improve it. The Grameen model of microfinance gained a great deal of attention in the international development field after early data showed that it was associated with high repayment and low default. This model makes small loans, usually to women, without requiring collateral.

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.