J-PAL North America, a research center in the MIT Department of Economics, is announcing two calls for proposals designed to help policymakers better fight poverty. The competitions invite state and local governments and health care organizations to apply for support answering their priority policy questions using randomized evaluations.
State and local governments are increasingly looking to data and evidence to make better-informed decisions on behalf of the people they serve. Through the State and Local Innovation Initiative, J-PAL North America works to support governments in testing innovative approaches to addressing critical social challenges and building their capacity to create and use rigorous evidence. Governments previously selected through the initiative have taken on issues ranging from homelessness to unemployment to the opioid crisis.
“State and local governments often have opportunities to test out promising new ideas,” says initiative co-chair Melissa Kearney, a professor of economics at the University of Maryland and a non-resident senior fellow at the Brookings Institution. “By partnering with governments to help find answers to the tough problems they’re facing, we’re hoping to give policymakers the tools they need to better understand which programs work and why. We hope the lessons learned will also support other governments facing similar challenges.”
Health care agencies, organizations, and nonprofits face a similar challenge: While treatments are scientifically tested, the same level of rigor is not typically applied to health care delivery programs.
Low-income individuals and other vulnerable groups often have difficulty accessing effective treatments. With the Health Care Delivery Innovation Competition, J-PAL North America seeks to partner with organizations to evaluate ways to provide better health care for those who are currently underserved. Selected organizations have worked with J-PAL North America to evaluate substance abuse treatment, care integration, social-service delivery, and patient-engagement programs.
“There’s often a close connection between poverty and poor health in the United States,” says Amy Finkelstein, the Ford Professor of Economics at MIT and co-scientific director of J-PAL North America. “With this initiative, we want to help health care organizations find effective programs to make sure better services reach those who need them most.”
Through these two initiatives, J-PAL North America intends to help organizations answer practical questions about which social programs work, which work best, and why; as well as to build a greater culture of evidence-based policymaking.
Details on how to apply to the State and Local Innovation Initiative can be found online, or through information contact Julia Chabrier. Details on how to apply to the Health Care Delivery Innovation Competition can be found on the competition's web page, or through information contact Anna Spier.
J-PAL North America, a regional office of the Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab, was established with support from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation and the Laura and John Arnold Foundation. It works to reduce poverty by ensuring that policies are informed by scientific evidence.