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International Policy Research

Mathematica's depth and breadth of experience in evaluating complex social programs in the United States fill an important gap in the international arena. Our skills in designing and conducting rigorous, evidence-based evaluations of programs and policies strengthen international health, education, and other approaches to poverty reduction research and evaluation. We work with governments, multilateral donors, foundations, private organizations, and nonprofit partners to help them develop indicators of program impact and measure results. Our experts conduct formative research, situation assessments, policy analysis, and program evaluations. They also help ensure capacity development in countries around the world. Read more about our evaluation capabilities and recent international work.


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Burkina Faso Education Program Has Positive Impacts

map of Burkina FasoThe BRIGHT program was designed to improve educational outcomes of children in Burkina Faso, focusing on girls in particular. It was implemented in 132 rural villages throughout the country where girls' school enrollment rates were lowest. A new report notes that for both boys and girls, the initiative had a positive impact on school enrollment as well as on math and French test scores. Read more.

Moreno Presents at Early Childhood Seminar in Chile

Photo of Lorenzo MorenoLorenzo Moreno, senior researcher, presented "Institutional Frameworks for the Evaluation of Public Policies" (Spanish version) at the seminar, Current Challenges of Early Childhood Policies in Chile, at the Universidad Diego Portales in Santiago, Chile. The seminar, led by Felipe Kast, the minister of social planning in Chile, marks the launch of a research partnership between Mathematica and the university. 

  • "Evaluation of the Millennium Challenge Corporation's Electricity-Transmission and Distribution Line-Extension Activity in Tanzania: Baseline Report." Duncan Chaplin, Arif Mamun, and John Schurrer, November 2012. This report presents findings from an analysis of baseline data collected as the first step in an impact evaluation of the Millennium Challenge Corporation’s energy sector project in Tanzania. The evaluation will use rigorous methods to estimate impacts of two project components: (1) an activity to provide new transmission and distribution lines to more than 300 communities in seven regions of Tanzania, and (2) a financing scheme initiative to provide low-cost connections to about 5,800 households in 29 of these communities.
  • "Improving Sanitation at Scale: Lessons from TSSM Implementation in East Java, Indonesia." Samia Amin, Anu Rangarajan, and Evan Borkum, June 2011. Low-quality or nonexistent sanitation affects health and hinders economic development, especially in the world's poorest countries. To address this issue, the Water and Sanitation Program, a partnership administered by the World Bank and funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, launched a global initiative in 2006 at selected sites in India, Indonesia, and Tanzania. In Indonesia, the program was known as the Total Sanitation and Sanitation Marketing initiative, which moved beyond simply building sanitation "hardware" and relied, instead, on providing training and technical assistance to promote collective action to eliminate open defecation and to strengthen demand for and supply of sanitation products and services.
  • "Evaluation of the Rwanda Threshold Program: Baseline Report." Ira Nichols-Barrer, Lindsay Wood, Matt Sloan, and Anu Rangarajan, October 2011. This report presents preliminary findings from an evaluation funded by the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) of the Rwanda Threshold Program, which aims to promote political rights, civil liberties, and political accountability through several initiatives, including strengthening police accountability, media, and civic participation. The report found that a minority of Rwandans are aware of an MCC-funded effort to encourage citizen comments on the Rwanda National Police. Baseline findings suggest that before the threshold program, most citizens listened to radio and believed its news coverage to be accurate; findings also suggest that measures of citizen satisfaction and engagement with local government are mixed.
  • "Evaluation of Tanzania Energy Sector Project: Updated Design Report." Duncan Chaplin, Arif Mamun, Thomas Fraker, Kathy Buek, Minki Chatterji, and Denzel Hankinson, March 2011. This report describes Mathematica's evaluation design for the Millennium Challenge Corporation's energy sector project to improve living standards and reduce poverty in Tanzania by investing in and improving energy-related infrastructure.
  • "Tanzania Energy Sector Impact Evaluation: Findings from the Zanzibar Baseline Study." Denzel Hankinson, Lauren Pierce, Duncan Chaplin, Arif Mamun, Minki Chatterji, Shawn Powers, and Elana Safran, March 2011. This report describes the data, design, and methodology for an impact evaluation of the Millennium Challenge Corporation's Zanzibar Cable Activity, which involves laying a new submarine cable to provide a more reliable source of electricity to Unguja Island to increase economic growth, reduce poverty, and improve the standard of living. The study found that an unreliable electricity supply increases hotel costs and decreases revenues.
  • "Impact Evaluation of Niger's IMAGINE Program." Anca Dumitrescu, Dan Levy, Cara Orfield, and Matt Sloan, September 2011. This report documents the main findings from the impact evaluation of the IMAGINE Program, which was designed to improve educational outcomes of girls in Niger. Overall, IMAGINE had a 4.3 percentage point positive impact on primary school enrollment, no impact on attendance, and no impact on math and French test scores. The program impacts were generally larger for girls than for boys. For girls, the program had an 8 percentage point positive impact on enrollment and a 5.4 percentage point impact on attendance. The program had no impact on girls' math scores, though it may have had a slight positive impact on girls' French test scores. No significant impacts were detected for boys' enrollment, attendance, or test scores. Finally, impacts were larger for younger children (ages 7-10), than for those between the ages of 10 and 12.
  • "Evaluation of the International Organization for Migration and Its Efforts to Combat Human Trafficking." Jacqueline Berman and Phil Marshall, February 2011. This report presents findings of an evaluation of the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and its efforts to combat human trafficking. It documents and assesses how projects funded by the Norwegian government and implemented in partnership with IOM have sought to counter human trafficking between 2000 and 2010, documents key findings related to these efforts, and provides recommendations. IOM’s major strengths include network-building and victim support, but it faces challenges when ensuring human rights protections and understanding program outcomes.
  • "Baseline Report on the Tertiary Canal Survey." Kenneth Fortson, Randall Blair, and Anu Rangarajan, December 2010. This report presents baseline data from the tertiary canal survey, which provides an understanding of the current irrigation and agricultural situation in rural Armenia, as well as context for the impact evaluation of the Millennium Challenge Corporation’s infrastructure improvement project in that country.
  • "Predictors of Maternal and Child Double Burden of Malnutrition in Rural Indonesia and Bangladesh." Vanessa M. Oddo, Jee H. Rah, Richard D. Semba, Kai Sun, Nasima Akhter, Mayang Sari, Saskia de Pee, Regina Moench-Pfanner, Martin Bloem, and Klaus Kraemer. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, April 2012 (subscription required). This article identifies maternal, child, and household characteristics in rural Indonesia and Bangladesh associated with maternal and child double burden of malnutrition, the coexistence of a stunted child and an overweight mother within the same household. Maternal and child double burden was observed in 11 percent and 4 percent of the households in rural Indonesia and Bangladesh, respectively. The study found double burden is not exclusive to urban areas.
  • "Aftershocks of Chile's Earthquake for an Ongoing, Large-Scale Experimental Evaluation." Lorenzo Moreno, Ernesto Treviño, Hirokazu Yoshikawa, Susana Mendive, Joaquín Reyes, Felipe Godoy, Francisca Del Río, Catherine Snow, Diana Leyva, Clara Barata, MaryCatherine Arbour, and Andrea Rolla. Evaluation Review, April 2011. Un Buen Comienzo, an ongoing early childhood program in Chile, was directly affected by the 2010 earthquake in that country. This article discusses the factors the team considered for deciding whether to put on hold or continue implementation and data collection for this experimental study.
  • "Mortality Risk and Human Capital Investment: The Impact of HIV/AIDS in Sub-Saharan Africa." Jane G. Fortson. The Review of Economics and Statistics, February 2011. Using data from Demographic and Health Surveys for 15 sub-Saharan African countries, this article estimates the relationship between regional HIV prevalence and the change in individual human capital investment over time. Areas with higher levels of HIV experienced relatively larger declines in schooling.
  • "Toward Closing the Evaluation Gap: Lessons Learned from Three Recent Impact Evaluations of Social Programs in Latin America and the Caribbean." Lorenzo Moreno, Larissa Campuzano, Dan Levy, and Randall Blair. Well-Being and Social Policy, fall 2009. This journal article identifies how impact evaluations are encouraged and resisted in Latin America and the Caribbean. Drawing on case studies from work in El Salvador, Jamaica, and Mexico, the authors outline best practices for successfully designing and implementing a high quality impact evaluation.

  • "Electricity in Zanzibar's Unguja Island: Initial Evaluation Findings." Issue Brief. Denzel Hankinson, Lauren Pierce, Duncan Chaplin, Arif Mamun, Minki Chatterji, Shawn Powers, and Elana Safran, March 2011. This issue brief presents baseline findings from the impact evaluation and the case study before the installation of a new electricity cable connecting Unguja Island in Zanzibar to the electricity grid of mainland Tanzania. Information for the baseline analysis comes from electricity data provided by the Millennium Challenge Account-Tanzania and the Zanzibar Electricity Company. The case study is based on a survey of 30 hotels. A follow-up analysis will take place in 2013.
  • "Child Labor, Schooling, and Child Ability." Richard Akresh, Emilie Bagby, Daien de Walque, and Harounan Kazianga, February 2012. Using data collected in rural Burkina Faso, this working paper examines how children's cognitive abilities influence households' decisions to invest in their education. The analysis uses variations in rainfall experienced in utero or early childhood to measure ability. It finds that rainfall shocks experienced in utero have direct negative impacts on a child's education and increase labor hours compared with the child's siblings.
  • Economic and Social Costs and Benefits to Employers of Retaining, Recruiting and Employing Disabled People and/or People with Health Conditions or an Injury: A Review of the Evidence. Edited by Karen Needels and Robert Schmitz, 2006. During the past 20 years, the United Kingdom (UK) has promoted fuller inclusion of people with disabilities into the workplace and, more broadly, into all aspects of public life. This volume identifies and synthesizes the best available evidence on the benefits and costs to UK employers of recruiting and retaining workers with disabilities. It addresses the following issues: (1) employers' understanding of disability and the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 (DDA), (2) costs and benefits associated with employing people with disabilities, and (3) the extent to which public policy can alter the labor market outcomes of this population.  Mathematica staff authored the following chapters:
  • "Overview of the Legislative and Labour Market Context for Disabled Workers." Debra Brucker and Robert Schmitz. The authors summarize the DDA and describe employer responsibilities, noting that 6.9 million working-age people in the UK were disabled under the DDA definition in 2005. Of this group, about half were employed during the year, compared with 78 percent of nondisabled people. As the population ages, the number of working-age individuals with disabilities will also grow, so policies encouraging employment are important to sustain economic growth.
  • "Framework for Employer Decision-Making." Karen Needels. This chapter provides a theoretical context for categorizing the economic forces that determine recruiting and retention of disabled and nondisabled workers. The model makes three important points: (1) employers want to find the right workers and retain them as long as possible, since recruiting is costly, (2) it is not possible to predict a candidate's productivity with certainty, and (3) some traits related to productivity are easy to assess, but others, such as self-assurance, appearance, and demeanor, may put candidates with disabilities at a disadvantage.
  • "Evidence-Based Recommendations for Policy and Research." Karen Needels. This chapter synthesizes the arguments and evidence presented in the entire volume. The author notes that policies must be developed with an eye toward distinctions among employers and people with disabilities, in particular, differences between small and large employers, public and voluntary entities, and mental and physical impairments. The chapter concludes with recommendations for future research.
  • "Guide to Employers for the Recruitment and Retention of Disabled People." Clara Williams and Craig Thornton. This appendix reviews factors and questions employers can consider in employment decisions.

Comparative and International Education Society Annual ConferenceSan Juan, PRApril 22-27, 2012
Nancy Murray, Discussant: Impact Assessment in Education: Rigor and Reality
Larissa Campuzano: "Low Participation Rates in a RCT of a Scholarship Program in El Salvador"
Matt Sloan: "A Comparison of the Impacts of a Girls' Education Program in Burkina Faso and Niger"

Center for Global Development Presents a Massachusetts Avenue Development SeminarTeacher Performance Pay and Long-Term Learning in India—Washington, DCFebruary 29, 2012
Elias Walsh, Discussant

Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Sanitation Models Results Framework Workshop—Nairobi, KenyaNovember 2-4, 2011
Samia Amin, Panelist: Evaluation in Practice: TSSM in Indonesia and Lessons from TSSM: Group Work

Millennium Challenge CorporationWashington, DCOctober 11, 2011
Ira Nichols-Barrer, Lindsay Wood, Matt Sloan, and Anu Rangarajan: "Rwanda Threshold Program: Baseline Findings"

International Initiative for Impact Evaluation (3ie)MIND THE GAP: From Evidence to Policy Impact—Cuernavaca, Mexico—June 15-17, 2011
Lorenzo Moreno: "Aftershocks of Chile's Earthquake on an Ongoing, Large-Scale Experimental Evaluation"
Larissa Campuzano: "Impact Evaluation Design for the Production and Business Services Activity of the MCC-funded Productive Development Project in El Salvador"

International Workshop on Comparative Survey Design and Implementation—City University London, UK—March 24-26, 2011
Matt Sloan: "Survey Response and Data Quality Issues in the Evaluation of the Rwanda Threshold Program"