IPA’s weekly links

Guest post by Jeff Mosenkis of Innovations for Poverty Action.


  • That aspiring sitcom about the high-pressure Nigerian immigrant family is impressively close to its kickstarter goal.
  • MDRC recently released its report (PDF here) on what did and didn’t work in New York City’s randomized controlled trial of conditional cash transfers (early results had been out for a while). The cash seems more effective than the conditions:
    • It involved 4,800 families with 11,000 children. Surveys at 18 & 42 months after payments began.
    • Families got on average $8,700 over three years, made in individual payments around meeting benchmarks in childrens’ education, preventative healthcare, and parents’ work & professional training.
    • It had significant effects on poverty reduction (poverty, hunger, housing).
    • Effects on education were mixed, accruing mostly to older kids who were more proficient at the start (although young siblings may have benefitted).
    • Effects on parents’ work were small or for some subgroups, negative.
    • Families were generally already getting medical checkups (one of the major health benchmarks), there were limited effects on health.
    • A second trial sought to improve the design, with fewer conditions aimed at a more targeted population, faster payments, and adding case management (coaching) in both New York and Memphis. Results are due out later this year.
  • The MacArthur Foundation announced a contest for a single $100 Million award for a solution to a “big problem.” Anybody can enter as long as it’s a problem of global social significance and there’s some evidence behind the proposed fix (must register by Sept. 2 on their site).
  • Leah Bevis looks at the “productivity paradox” in agriculture – why farmers with bigger plots don’t get proportionally larger yields. She and Christopher Barret find in Uganda, that farmer behavior, investing more in the parts around the visible/accessible perimeter seem to explain it (working paper here).
  • The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is announcing new regulations on payday (and other similar short term, high interest) loans, out of fear some borrowers might get in over their heads. Jonathan Morduch thinks it won’t make much difference, Allison Schrager in Quartz thinks removing that emergency borrowing option may hurt the poor.
    • The CFPB is also looking for input in how to redesign the information student borrowers are given about loan payback options.
  • IPA is hiring a director for our Uganda office! (And many other jobs here.)

And, this is useful – how to tell if a Canadian is mad at you.