James Berry

Department of Economics
Cornell University
486 Uris Hall
Ithaca, NY 14853

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NBER Working Papers and Publications

December 2016From Proof of Concept to Scalable Policies: Challenges and Solutions, with an Application
with Abhijit Banerjee, Rukmini Banerji, Esther Duflo, Harini Kannan, Shobhini Mukherji, Marc Shotland, Michael Walton: w22931
The promise of randomized controlled trials (RCTs) is that evidence gathered through the evaluation of a specific program helps us—possibly after several rounds of fine-tuning and multiple replications in different contexts—to inform policy. However, critics have pointed out that a potential constraint in this agenda is that results from small, NGO-run “proof-of-concept” studies may not apply to policies that can be implemented by governments on a large scale. After discussing the potential issues, this paper describes the journey from the original concept to the design and evaluation of scalable policy. We do so by evaluating a series of strategies that aim to integrate the NGO Pratham’s “Teaching at the Right Level” methodology into elementary schools in India. The methodology consists o...
October 2016Mainstreaming an Effective Intervention: Evidence from Randomized Evaluations of “Teaching at the Right Level” in India
with Abhijit Banerjee, Rukmini Banerji, Esther Duflo, Harini Kannan, Shobhini Mukherji, Marc Shotland, Michael Walton: w22746
Previous randomized studies have shown that addressing children’s current learning gaps, rather than following an over-ambitious uniform curriculum, can lead to significant learning gains. In this study, we evaluate a series of efforts to scale up the NGO Pratham’s approach to teaching children according to their actual learning level, in four Indian States. While this approach was previously shown to be extremely effective when implemented with community volunteers outside of school, the objective of these new scale-up evaluations was to develop a model that could be implemented within the government school system. In the first two instances (Bihar and Uttarakhand), the methodology was not adopted by government schoolteachers, despite well-received training sessions and Pratham support. M...
April 2015The Impact of Financial Education for Youth in Ghana
with Dean Karlan, Menno Pradhan: w21068
We evaluate, using a randomized trial, two school-based financial literacy education programs in government-run primary and junior high schools in Ghana. One program integrated financial and social education, whereas the second program only offered financial education. Both programs included a voluntary after-school savings club that provided students with a locked money box. After nine months, both programs had significant impacts on savings behavior relative to the control group, mostly because children moved savings from home to school. We observed few other impacts. We do find that financial education, when not accompanied by social education, led children to work more compared to the control group, whereas no such effect is found for the integrated curriculum; however, the difference ...
July 2007Can Higher Prices Stimulate Product Use? Evidence from a Field Experiment in Zambia
with Nava Ashraf, Jesse M. Shapiro: w13247
The controversy over whether and how much to charge for health products in the developing world rests, in part, on whether higher prices can increase use, either by targeting distribution to high-use households (a screening effect), or by stimulating use psychologically through a sunk-cost effect. We develop a methodology for separating these two effects. We implement the methodology in a field experiment in Zambia using door-to-door marketing of a home water purification solution. We find that higher prices screen out those who use the product less. By contrast, we find no consistent evidence of sunk-cost effects.

Published: Nava Ashraf & James Berry & Jesse M. Shapiro, 2010. "Can Higher Prices Stimulate Product Use? Evidence from a Field Experiment in Zambia," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 100(5), pages 2383-2413, December. citation courtesy of

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