Evidence for Policy Design at Harvard

  • MA

About Us

EPoD is built on the conviction that scarce public resources need to be optimized for the benefit of low-income populations through evidence-based policymaking. In order to be effective, governments must design mechanisms to select competent leaders, enlist citizen preferences, identify beneficiaries, hold service providers accountable, and evaluate the impact of policies. Civil society and private sector actors must identify means to effectively represent and meet the needs of poor populations. In many low-income countries, these mechanisms either do not exist or are weak and inadequate, resulting in ineffective social policies, corruption, and poor use of available resources.

EPoD's primary activity is research that utilizes the tools of microeconomics to provide answers to pressing questions of policy design in low-income countries. Current areas of research include education, entrepreneurship, pollution regulation, health, agriculture, governance, tax administration, and access to finance. EPoD also engages in policy dialogues and trains current and future policymakers to utilize analytical tools and frameworks for smart policy design. New knowledge generated through EPoD research has been disseminated through media outlets such as CNN, the BBC, Al-Jazeera, Foreign Policy, The Economist, and the Financial Times, as well as through testimony to the U.S. Senate and the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights.

EPoD trains students at Harvard and policymakers around the world on the use of microeconomic theory and evidence to design and evaluate policy. EPoD faculty teach a variety of courses and student workshops that employ rigorous empirical methods to inform development and social programs. We provide executive-level training and capacity-building to equip policymakers with tools for evidence-based policy design. EPoD has also supported the development of research and evaluation capacity in South Asia by advising on training activities at the Institute for Financial Management and Research (IFMR) in India and the Center for Economic Research in Pakistan (CERP).

EPoD collaborates with institutions around the world to produce and disseminate cutting-edge research. A principal strategy is to partner with central and state governments, multilateral institutions such as USAID and DFID, and private and civil society organizations in low-income countries. These activities provide clear channels for translating research into input for policy decisions. Partner research institutions include:

  • Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab (J-PAL), MIT
  • Innovations for Poverty Action (IPA), New Haven, CT
  • National Bureau of Economic Research, Cambridge, MA
  • Center for Economic Research in Pakistan (CERP), Lahore, Pakistan
  • Institute for Financial Management and Research (IFMR), Chennai, India
  • International Growth Centre (IGC), London, UK

In addition, EPoD works closely with scholars across Harvard, from the School of Public Health to the Economics Department and the Business School.

EPoD is led by Harvard Kennedy School faculty, Professors Rohini Pande and Asim Ijaz Khwaja. Other EPoD group members are Professors Rema Hanna, Amitabh Chandra, David Yanagizawa-Drott and Ryan Sheely. EPoD incorporates what was previously known as the Micro-Development Initiative (MDI) and also includes the Entrepreneurial Finance Lab Research Initiative (EFLRI) and Governance Innovations for Sustainable Development.