Center for Effective Global Action
February 2017 - Impact Note

CEGA Joins Forces with Berkeley's "Opportunity Lab"

CEGA is proud to announce its affiliation with UC Berkeley's Opportunity Lab (O-Lab) ,
a new multi-disciplinary center dedicated to the use of rigorous research in tackling issues surrounding poverty and inequality, both in the United States and abroad. O-Lab utilizes large administrative datasets and other "big data" sources to produce innovative, policy-relevant research grounded in empirical economics. O-Lab is organized into six thematic "initiatives" led by O-Lab affiliates: Climate & Environment, Crime & Criminal Justice Policy, Education & Child Development, Health, Social Safety Net & Employment, and Taxation & Inequality. CEGA looks forward to working closely with O-Lab in to magnify our collective policy impact. 


Universal Basic Income Study Featured in NYTimes

GiveDirectly, co-founded by CEGA affiliate
Paul Niehaus , was recently profiled by The New York Times Magazine regarding its Kenya-based study to understand the long-term impacts of universal basic income (UBI). The article reveals what cash transfer recipients in a pilot village plan to do with their money, and illuminates what they see as the potentially transformative effects transfers could have on their local economy. Additionally, this study could provide, for all time, a reliable benchmark by which to measure the effectiveness of large, in-kind anti-poverty programs.

Driving Restrictions and Air Pollution on BBC News

Photo by Ian Dolphin 
BBC News recently featured research by CEGA affiliate Lucas Davis on the effects of Mexico City's driving restriction program on air quality. The study found that imposing license plate based driving restrictions had no discernible effect on air quality and pollution levels. The article explains why the program was less effective than anticipated, and provides lessons for policymakers in other countries considering imposing driving restrictions as an approach to reducing urban air pollution.

Drones for Development on Devex 
Photo by Tim Stahmer 
The international development community is abuzz with the promise of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs, or drones) to improve access to data and mapping in developing countries. Applications include everything from humanitarian response to agricultural planning and conservation monitoring. In this Devex blog post , CEGA staffer Giovanni Castaldo chronicles his experience at the inaugural DroneDeploy user conference and ponders the opportunities and challenges of expanding drone use for global development.

Interviews with the 2016 Leamer-Rosenthal Prize Winners

Dr. Lorena Barba
In December, the
Berkeley Initiative for Transparency in the Social Sciences (BITSS) awarded ten Leamer-Rosenthal Prizes for Open Social Science to educators and scholars promoting research transparency and reproducibility, and interviewed those who attended the BITSS Annual Meeting. Watch the interviews on our YouTube page to learn why and how the recipients became involved in the open science movement and where they think it's headed. 

WGAPE Special Meeting in Abu Dhabi

Photo by Kim Nguyen 
In January, New York University--Abu Dhabi hosted a special meeting of the
Working Group in Political Economy (WGAPE), a CEGA-led program. The conference featured in-depth discussions of thirteen early stage papers and research designs, as well as an EGAP training for scholars from African universities.
WGAPE is currently accepting abstracts for its Annual Meeting and applications to attend a special WGAPE session at the Annual Bank Conference on Africa in June . Apply to both through the  CEGA Submittable site  by March 24.

EASST Fellows Lead IE Workshop at University of Dodoma

Photo by Fredrick Manang 
On January 10, former EASST fellow
Dr. Fredrick Manang (University of Dodoma) and Dr. Anthony Mveyange (World Bank) led an impact evaluation workshop at the University of Dodoma, Tanzania. Over 30 faculty members from broad range of disciplines (including Information and Communications Technology, Social Sciences, Business, and Humanities) were trained in rigorous impact evaluation methodologies.

Research Transparency and Reproducibility Workshop at the World Bank

Photo by Tariq Khokhar
BITSS Project Scientist Garret Christensen held a workshop at the World Bank on February 1 to improve understanding of challenges involved in producing high quality social science research. More than 35 World Bank researchers participated in the workshop and got to test drive the latest techniques for developing a reproducible workflow using version control and the GitHub Desktop App. All workshop materials can be found on the Open Science Framework (OSF) here.

Dissemination Event Showcases Research on Hybrid Maize Seeds in Kenya

Photo by Feed the Future AMA Innovation Lab
In February, CEGA affiliate Michael Carter joined co-authors at a Research Dissemination and Policy Conference in Nairobi to share new evidence on the adoption of an improved hybrid maize seed variety in Kenya. Their research, supported by the Agricultural Technology Adoption Initiative (ATAI), found that productivity improved for farmers with access to improved seeds. The event, co-organized by UC Davis' BASIS program in partnership with Acumen Fund and Western Seed Company, convened policymakers and a broad range of stakeholders invested in smallholder farmers in Kenya.


Catalyzing Financial Inclusion in the Dominican Republic

Photo by Sean Higgins 
With support from Visa and Innovations for Poverty Action (IPA), CEGA researchers are exploring ways to facilitate access to formal financial services among under-banked households in the Democratic Republic. The study, led by CEGA Affiliate Paul Gertler and postdoctoral scholar Sean Higgins, is measuring the impacts of low interest, digital microloans for beneficiaries of ProSo0li, the national cash transfer program. Ultimately, the team planned to expand the scope of the study to explore the effectiveness of gender-differentiated credit scoring models as well as approaches to incentivizing the adoption of digital payment infrastructure among small merchants.

SSMART Yields New Tools for Improving Social Science Research
Rachel Meager 
Two studies supported by
BITSS through the Social Science Meta-Analysis and Research Transparency (SSMART) grant program have yielded new tools and methods for improving social science research. SSMART grant recipient Rachel Meager developed a new method for conducting meta-analysis of distributional treatment effects in the microcredit literature using Bayesian hierarchical methods. Additionally, SSMART grantees Fiona Burlig, Louis Preonas, and Matt Woerman have a new working paper, "Panel Data and Experimental Design," that describes methods for better powering longitudinal studies.  

Which US Colleges Foster Upward Mobility?

Earlier this year, affiliates of CEGA's new affiliated center, the " Opportunity Lab " (including Emmanuel Saez and Danny Yagan) released their Mobility Report Cards for colleges across the United States. This research shows that although students from low-income families perform as well as students from higher-income families, Ivy League colleges admit more students from the top 1% of the income distribution. Findings suggest that lower-cost public colleges that admit large numbers of students from poor families may foster higher rates of upward mobility for students than their Ivy League counterparts.

2017 SSMART Grants Request for Proposals

BITSS invites proposals for Social Science Meta-Analysis and Research Transparency (SSMART) grants. Two grants of $30k each are available for research projects led by or in partnership with researchers from low- and middle-income countries to (1) develop new methodology; (2) produce new meta-analysis; or (3) study research culture and the adoption of new methods. See the 2017 RFP here a n d submit proposals via Submittable by March 20, 2017.