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Impact Note
November 2021

Mobile Money Street Shot, Uganda | Gunnar Salvarsson

CEGA Hosts Evidence to Action 2021

On November 4th, we hosted our largest annual event of the year, Evidence to Action: Reimagining Development Aid (E2A), which showcased innovations in the targeting of aid and social protections. Minister of Digital Transformation and Economy Cina Lawson of Togo provided a keynote address on how her office collaborated with CEGA Faculty Co-Director Josh Blumenstock and his team to combine geospatial analytics, mobile phone data, and machine learning to get cash aid to Togo’s poorest citizens. Through “Novissi,” Togo’s flagship digital cash transfer program, the Togolese government, CEGA, and implementing partner GiveDirectly, delivered cash to over 920,000 of the poorest citizens. During a recent visit to UC Berkeley, we spoke with Minister Lawson about her work and the unique challenges COVID-19 posed in identifying aid recipients and delivering assistance to them. As Blumenstock shared with Devex in a piece about E2A, CEGA seeks to expand its targeting approach for governments and humanitarian organizations to use in other contexts.


Edward Miguel, Mostly Admired

Steven Levitt of Freakonomics Radio interviews CEGA Faculty Co-Director Edward Miguel for his podcast, People I [Mostly] Admire. The two discuss Miguel’s seminal, twenty-year work on deworming, how rainfall can predict conflict, what parking tickets in New York City say about corruption around the world, and why transparent research practices matter. 

Photo: Freakonomics Radio

EDI Celebrates Five Years of Impact

As CEGA concludes five years of funded research in our Economic Development and Institutions (EDI) initiative, affiliated professor and director Ernesto Dal Bó shares the impact of EDI research with Berkeley News. Working directly with government partners, CEGA-funded research has led to labor reform in Mexico, strengthened democracy in Sierra Leone, and much more. 

Photo: Carol Sahley

Americans Lean into the Great Resignation 

One surprising effect of the COVID-19 crisis in the US is that millions have resigned from their jobs, with 4.3 million Americans quitting in August 2021 alone. CEGA affiliated professor Ulrike Malmendier talks to NPR and VoxEU about how our economic choices are shaped by personal and collective experiences, like the pandemic, and how this should frame how economists think about risk preferences.

Photo: Mohamed Hassan

Cash, not Crop Burnings 

With funding from CEGA’s Agricultural Technology Adoption Initiative (ATAI), co-managed with J-PAL, CEGA affiliated professor Kelsey Jack and coauthors evaluated the impact of providing cash payments to farmers in India to reduce crop burning. They write for The Indian Express on how cash remains a viable solution and could reduce premature deaths caused by the practice.

Photo: Uttam Ghosh


Photo: UNICEF Rwanda

Pay for Performance in Rwanda

With funding from CEGA’s Economic Development and Institutions (EDI) program, CEGA affiliated professor Andrew Zeitlin and coauthors evaluated the impact of performance-based pay on the composition of teachers and quality of instruction. They found that while performance-based pay attracted those interested in the financial incentives, such teachers taught as well as those with fixed wages. New teachers offered performance-based pay were more effective at teaching and more likely to remain in their roles. The Government of Rwanda is now revising its teacher management policies and considering scaling performance-based pay across the country.



Adolescent Pregnancy in Uganda

While adolescent pregnancy in Uganda decreased steadily prior to 2006, rates have stagnated since. EASST Fellow John Bosco Asiimwe (Spring 2015) and coauthors investigate the underlying factors and find that education levels, household wealth gains, and teenage marriage rates all stalled, contributing to the stagnation in rates of adolescent pregnancy.

Photo: Disaster Relief

Los Niños vs. El Niño

Newly published in Nature and presented at MeasureDev 2021, CEGA affiliated professor Gordon McCord compares 186 surveys of children’s height and weight with variation in El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO) intensity from 1986-2018 to estimate its association with child nutrition at a global scale. He finds that climatic processes like ENSO have measurable negative effects on human well-being.

Photo: Avijit Ghosh

Authorities Shift Norms 

Recently published research from CEGA affiliated professors Graeme Blair and Chad Hazlett and coauthors on the reintegration of former Boko Haram fighters indicates that messages from the trusted authorities of a community can increase communal acceptance of previously exiled individuals and decrease future conflict.

Photo: William Slotznick

Working Papers

  • Cristóbal Otero and coauthors analyzed competition from state-owned firms by studying public pharmacies in Chile. They find countrywide presence of public pharmacies increases prices at private pharmacies, but decreases yearly consumer drug expenditure. 
  • Edward Miguel and Ahmed Mushfiq Mobarak surveyed existing research on the socioeconomic consequences of COVID-19 in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). 
  • Ajay Shenoy, Dahyeon Jeong, and Laura Zimmermann studied an online make-work program in India designed to combat poverty. They found that corruption persists due to a lack of transparency, influencing income distribution.
  • Sarojini Hirshleifer analyzed learning incentives amongst school children in India, finding that incentives that increase effort are twice as cost-effective as those that reward performance.
  • Daniel Bennett and Manuela Angelucci examined the relationship between depression and poverty in India, finding that pharmacotherapy treatment has long-term benefits for child human capital development.


  • Minister Cina Lawson talks to us about her work with CEGA and how big data and machine learning can reduce poverty and shape policy-making in Africa.
  • Lauren Russell and Carson Christiano define CEGA’s strategic ambition and detail how, with funding from the Hewlett Foundation, CEGA has strengthened organizational effectiveness. 
  • CEGA’s Global Networks initiative is hosting six East and West African scholars to develop their skills in rigorous impact evaluation. Beda Castillo interviews them and discusses their research.


Visit CEGA's event page or our YouTube channel to watch videos of past events. Videos are typically posted within one week of the event date.

Photo: Kathryn MacAuley

November 9: The Impact of Building Market Linkages in Uganda

Co-managed by CEGA, the Agriculture Technology Adoption Initiative (ATAI) will host an evidence-sharing webinar with Craig McIntosh. Exploring whether mobile phone-based marketplaces enhance smallholder farmers’ ability to access buyers directly and increase profits, McIntosh completed one of the largest market information experiments to understand the impacts of such a digital marketplace in Uganda. For more information and to register, see the event page.

Photo: Mohammad Al-Arief

November 10: Cost-ober 2021: The Role of High-Quality Cost Evidence in Impact Evaluation Research

CEGA’s second annual “Cost-ober” series will feature two webinars and a virtual workshop on cost analysis and its important role in impact evaluation research. Hosted by CEGA’s Cost Transparency Initiative and associated Costing Community of Practice (CCoP), panels will include “Cash Benchmarking in Programmatic Evaluation” and “Portfolio Level Costs and Benefits.” For more information and to register, see the event page.

Photo: BITSS

February 10-11: 10th BITSS Annual Meeting

The CEGA-managed Berkeley Initiative for Transparency in the Social Sciences (BITSS) will host its annual meeting, bringing together actors from academia, scholarly publishing, and policy to share research and discuss efforts to improve the credibility of social science by advancing research transparency, reproducibility, rigor, and ethics. The program will feature a keynote by 2021 Economics Nobel Laureate, David Card, and presentations of meta-scientific work. For more information, to submit a paper, and to register, see the event page.


Hiring Associate Director, Communications and Policy Engagement

We’re seeking a creative, ambitious, and mission-driven communications professional to develop and implement a new communications and policy engagement strategy for CEGA. This full-time role will lead the Center’s communications and external engagement. Communications is critical to CEGA’s mission, ensuring that our research is used by policymakers and others to improve lives, while amplifying our credibility and visibility among key audiences. To apply, see the listing.

Hiring Part-time Full Stack Developer, Social Science Prediction Platform

The Berkeley Initiative for Transparency in the Social Sciences (BITSS)–managed by CEGA–is seeking a part-time full-stack engineer, as soon as possible, for the remainder of Fall 2021 and Spring 2022. This role would be a part of the Social Science Prediction Platform team at UC Berkeley, led by principal investigators Stefano DellaVigna (UC Berkeley) and Eva Vivalt (University of Toronto). To apply, see the listing.

Hiring Graduate Student Researcher, BITSS

CEGA is seeking a graduate student researcher (GSR) (up to 49% time) for Spring 2022 to support research activities led by the Berkeley Initiative for Transparency in the Social Sciences (BITSS). The role will focus on conducting research on computational reproducibility, co-creating guidance materials for the newly-launched Social Science Reproduction Platform (SSRP). To apply, see the listing.

Request for Submissions to DevEng Journal Special Issue: Cost Estimation

Development Engineering: The Journal of Engineering in Economic Development is seeking submissions for a Special Issue that explores the use of cost estimation as a tool for resource-constrained design and the evaluation of products, services and innovations intended for marginalized populations. To submit, see the announcement

About CEGA 


Research. Inspire. Change.

CEGA is the West Coast hub for research on global development. Headquartered at UC Berkeley, CEGA’s large, interdisciplinary research network—including a growing number of scholars from low- and middle-income countries—identifies and tests innovations designed to reduce poverty and promote development. Our researchers use rigorous methods as well as novel measurement tools—including wireless sensors, mobile data, and analytics—to evaluate complex programs. Through careful matchmaking, competitive grantmaking, and research dissemination activities, CEGA ensures that the research we produce is relevant, timely, and actionable to policymakers.

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