Additional Insights: 21st Century Strategies to Promote Economic Empowerment and Child Development Globally


The Context:

Historically, impact evaluation studies conducted by international NGOs and multilateral lending institutions have focused on simply learning what programs do and do not work. Additional Insights was developed to help build the knowledge base necessary for researchers to address “for whom” programs work, “why” they work, and “where” they work. Addressing such questions will critically expand the evidence base and our understanding of the returns to investment in high quality, large-scale programs to improve children and youth’s development.

The Project:

In this project, we will be focusing on impact evaluations targeting women’s economic empowerment and children’s development (education, early childhood, socio-emotional, mental health) in low- and middle- income countries. We will also be placing an emphasis on projects that allow for analyses of “settings-level” impact variation. In other words, we will be looking at differential effects by community, school, or household characteristics in order to assess under what conditions programs work.  In addition, this work will foster a fuller understanding of what parameters (e.g. sample size, baseline data collected) optimally support the ability to do secondary data analyses assessing variation in impact; identifying data sets currently available that meet these parameters; training emerging scholars on advance secondary data analytic techniques suitable for answering such questions; and supporting scholars in conducting research that advances our understanding of for whom, why, and where women’s economic empowerment and child development programs work.

Our Approach:
    1. Identify impact evaluation datasets publicly available for secondary data analysis (and encourage researchers to make their data public).
    2. Identify key settings- and individual-level variables needed (and optimal research design) to conduct variation in impact analyses.
    3. Train a global, diverse pool of emerging scholars on current, best practices for performing variation in impact analyses.
    4. Support scholars in applying these techniques to variation in impact questions in the field of women’s economic empowerment and child development.
    5. Make publicly available and actively disseminate training materials on secondary analysis techniques (e.g. individual and cluster-level moderation and multi-level mediation analyses) to a broader audience of international researchers.

Future plans include synthesizing the findings from these concerted analyses, to communicate the findings, and develop policy engagement tools and strategies.

Project Team:

Larry Aber (PI), Kate Schwartz (Project Director), Carly Tubbs (Adviser), Yeshim Iqbal (Graduate Student Assistant), Jessaca Spybrook (Statistical Consultant), Peter Halpin (Statistical Consultant), Michael Weiss (Statistical Consultant), Sharon Wolf (Statistical Consultant) 

Additional Insights International Research Fellowship:

About the Fellowship

The Additional Insights International Research Fellowship is a rigorous, multi-disciplinary program for emerging scholars (advanced doctoral students through early career research scientists) in the applied social sciences. This fellowship capitalizes on existing and under explored resources – the many hundreds of impact evaluations conducted in low- and middle- income countries over the past decade – and seeks to 1) build our knowledge base as a field about the factors influencing program success and 2) train a new cohort of scholars on how to best approach such questions within experimental designs.

The fellowship targets programs that seek to improve women’s economic empowerment and/or children’s development (education, early childhood, socio-emotional, mental health) in low- and middle- income countries. Participating scholars will be trained in rigorous, settings-level1, secondary data analytic techniques and supported in answering a research question of their own selection to better understand for whom, why, and where such programs work. Fellows are expected to produce a paper suitable for publication on their question(s).

Answering such questions concerning variation in and mechanisms of program impact, is crucial to guiding the replicability and scalability of successful program and greatly increases the returns yielded from (very expensive) large-scale interventions. We believe that this work, and the fellows selected and trained through this program, will push forward the field in its use (and sharing) of large-scale intervention data toward greater insights, and thus better outcomes, in women’s economic empowerment and child development in low- and middle-income countries.  

 Additional Insights International Research Fellowship 2015 Summer Training Institute

In the summer of 2015, fellows participated in a week-long Summer Training Institute at NYU Abu Dhabi. This summit was composed of mixture of methodological presentations, plenary addresses, and statistical workshops, with a high degree of individual support to researchers’ specific analyses. Presentations and workshops were led by researchers and statisticians trained in the use of secondary and settings-level analytic techniques The focus was on furthering fellows’ understanding of variation in program impact and why it is critical to understand and assess; strengthening fellows’ analytic skills; teaching specific techniques for secondary data analyses; and creating a structured, supported setting in which fellows can begin work toward answering their research questions.  

Detailed documentation, including the institute program and presentations, can be accessed by clicking below: 
2015 Summer Training Institute Agenda & Materials