EPoD's 2022 in Review
EPoD had a fruitful and engaging 2022 advancing our mission to shape a world where evidence drives continuous improvement in states, systems, and societies for better lives. As we step into 2023, here’s a look back at last year’s rigorous, on-the-ground research, as well as training initiatives, internship program, and other activities.
Research Highlights of 2022
EPoD’s research extends into a wide range of fields and areas of practice – reflecting the diversity of backgrounds and expertise of our scholars. Below are some highlights, each exhibiting EPoD’s commitment to offering concrete steps to improve policy for the policymakers and practitioners we work with.
Goals and Gaps: Educational Careers of Immigrant Children: Studying the educational choices of children of immigrants in a tracked school system, new EPoD affiliate Eliana La Ferrara and her co-authors Michela Carlana and Paolo Pinotti estimate the impact of a large-scale, randomized intervention providing tutoring and career counseling to high ability immigrant students. They find that while male treated students increase their probability of enrolling into the high track to the same level of natives, there are no significant effects on immigrant girls. Read more here.
Technology in Education: Empowering Actors Across the Ecosystem: EPoD faculty affiliate and LEAPS PI Asim Khwaja and co-authors launched a new large-scale study examining the impact of using technology to deliver information and guidance about student learning levels to teachers and parents. Data collection to date shows that as much as 90% of fifth grade students in Pakistan are behind; accurate, specific, and timely learning data may be key in helping them catch up. This work is supported by the EdTech Hub.
Rational Habit Formation: Experimental Evidence from Handwashing in India: A study by EPoD Faculty Affiliates Reshmaan N. Hussam and Natalia Rigol and coauthors find that incentives and monitoring are effective in increasing handwashing rates in India, generating substantial improvements in child health. Read more about their findings here.
Immediate Postpartum Care in Low- and Middle-income Countries: A Gap in Healthcare Quality Research and Practice: Postpartum monitoring is important for the early identification and management of complications, yet many women in low-and middle-income countries receive minimal attention in the period following childbirth. EPoD Faculty Affiliates Jessica Cohen and Margaret McConnell, along with their co-authors, identify opportunities for strengthening postpartum care. Read their research here.
Environment & Energy
Peak-Hour Road Congestion Pricing: Experimental Evidence and Equilibrium Implications: Developing countries’ megacities suffer from severe road traffic congestion. EPoD Faculty Affiliate Gabriel E. Kreindler’s study of driving behavior in Bangalore suggests that peak-hour congestion charges would have limited effect on travel times and small commuter welfare gains. Read the full article here.
Globalization and the Effective Taxation of Capital Versus Labor: EPoD Faculty Affiliate Anders Jensen, Fellow Alumni Matthew Fisher-Post and their co-authors explain how trade integration impacted the taxation of capital versus labor and enhanced tax capacity in developing countries. Read more here.
Projects In Focus
- Evidence Corps Summer Internship: In our summer 2022 Evidence Corps internship program launch, EPoD connected 18 Harvard undergraduates to seven organizations across the globe. Designed to generate interest in economic development career paths through a meaningful training experience, our students worked for research organizations and think tanks in developing countries including Malaysia, Indonesia, Morocco, Thailand, and Nepal. The Evidence Corps Program is supported by the President’s Innovation Fund for International Experiences, and is now part of the CID Global Internship Program. For 2023, we look forward to additional internship opportunities for undergraduates and graduate students at Harvard. Learn more about one student's experience working in Morocco here.
- Learning and Educational Achievement in Pakistan Schools (LEAPS) Research Portfolio: LEAPS, which is co-led by EPoD Faculty Affiliate and CID Director Asim Khwaja, launched its website this year, cataloging the wide range of completed and ongoing work under the LEAPS umbrella by as many as 30 collaborators, all in one place. The website includes access to seven new research papers, all published or completed in 2022, as well as the full LEAPS datasets, which many students, collaborators, and faculty have used for their own research.
Training and Events of 2022
Our affiliates and faculty hosted and participated in several events in 2022, sharing and facilitating the exchange of research, findings, and expertise in international development. Read more about 2022’s events, as well as what we’re looking forward to in 2023:
Migrant Remittances and Financial Services: In-Person Workshop at Harvard Kennedy School
Players from the private and public sectors came together to tackle key challenges in a collaboration among EPoD, HKS Executive Education, and the United Nations Capital Development Fund. Read the full article here.
Evidence Sharing Seminar: Youth Economic Inclusion in Morocco
Youth skills and training, job creation, and job search assistance are all critical areas for Morocco to address in order to increase youth economic inclusion. Evidence Corps intern Alexandra Diggs provides an overview of June’s Evidence Sharing Seminar on youth inclusion hosted by the Morocco Employment Lab (MEL) here.
Ongoing Building Capacity to Use Research Evidence in Morocco
Government will serve citizens better when policymakers believe in evidence and know how to use it. As part of the MEL project, EPoD trained Moroccan university faculty to provide the next generation of policymakers with skills like interpreting descriptive evidence and understanding impact evaluations. Read about one of 2022’s training events in Morocco here.
LSPD Participants Tackle Social and Economic Problems with Smarts
EPoD and Harvard Kennedy School’s Executive Education program Leading Smart Policy Design (LSPD) provides practical frameworks for participants grappling with tough social and economic policy problems around the world. In 2022, program alumni applied lessons to help at-risk families in Australia, implement social policy in Peru, and improve tax policy in Tanzania. Read more here, and see here for a video deep-dive into the policy framework behind LSPD.
Evidence for Equity
EPoD and Harvard Kennedy School Executive Education are launching the Evidence for Equity program in December 2023. This new virtual program, chaired by Professors Zoe Marks and EPoD Faculty Director of Training Teddy Svoronos, will convene a global cohort to engage in data-driven, evidence-based policymaking through an equity lens. Learn more and apply here.
Our Most-Viewed Work of 2022
EPoD's efforts aim to inform evidence-based policymaking and promote more effective and efficient policies. This past year, our work reached an online community of over 20,000 viewers who joined us in exploring ways to drive continuous improvement in states, systems, and societies. Join us as we look back on these transformative highlights on our Twitter and LinkedIn handles:
Test scores and educational opportunities: Panel evidence from five low- and middle-income countries
Socioeconomic status at a young age is as important as test scores in predicting later educational attainment gaps. In their research published in the Journal of Public Economics, Jishnu Das (PI, Learning and Educational Achievements in Pakistan Schools (LEAPS), an EPoD research project), Abhijeet Singh, and Andres Yi Chang find that while children with higher test scores at age 12 complete two more years of schooling, high-scoring kids from poorer backgrounds complete the same years of schooling as low-scoring kids from wealthy backgrounds. Read the full article here.
Beyond COVID Webinar Series
COVID-19 is one of the greatest global disruptions of the past century. To address the urgent need for COVID mitigation and recovery, the Center for International Development (CID) at Harvard University launched the Beyond COVID webinar series. One panel in the series, “How To Reimagine Social Welfare”, featuring CID Director Asim Khwaja and EPoD Faculty Director Rema Hanna, made recommendations on how to improve social welfare, including utilizing a registry of citizens, facilitating national and local taskforce coordination, and strengthening capacities to generate evidence.
EPoD and J-PAL’s Social Protection Initiative Fund
To spur a new body of rigorous impact evaluations on social protection, J-PAL and Evidence for Policy Design (EPoD) established the Social Protection Initiative (SPI) to fund policy-relevant research on social protection programs in low- and middle-income countries. The SPI’s first webinar focused on the value of research on innovations in social protection featuring experts in the fields of economics, foreign affairs, and health policy.
The Economic Consequences of Increasing Sleep Among the Urban Poor
A study by EPoD Faculty Affiliate Gautam Rao et al. published in The Quarterly Journal of Economics concludes that short afternoon naps at the workplace improve outcomes for low-income urban workers, with significant increases in productivity, psychological well-being, and cognition. Read more about this here.
Food versus vouchers: Evidence from Indonesia
When providing food assistance, is it better to provide food directly or vouchers to buy it? In this VoxDev talk, Abhijit Banerjee, Ben Olken, Elan Satriawan, EPoD Faculty Director Rema Hanna, and Sudarno Sumarto discuss their evaluation of the transition of Indonesia’s largest social assistance program. The authors find that providing vouchers for rice and eggs allows for better targeting and increased protein consumption, while also being cheaper to administer than in-kind benefits. Listen to their conversation here.
Conditional Cash Transfers for Education
In their new literature review of conditional cash transfers for education published by the National Bureau of Education, EPoD Faculty Affiliate Juan Saavedra and Sandra García find that while these programs improve enrollment and attainment, particularly in secondary school, they do not on average, seem to improve learning. Read the full article here.