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The Laboratory for Effective Anti-poverty Policies, directed by Eliana La Ferrara and funded by Fondazione Invernizzi, makes use of the social sciences to evaluate the policies adopted in developing countries and in Italy and to develop the most effective, in partnership with governments and NGOs.
Reducing poverty around the world through the design, the analysis and the dissemination of effective anti-poverty programs. This is the ambitious goal of LEAP, the Laboratory for Effective Anti-poverty Policies (http://www.unibocconi.eu), launched at Bocconi. But how to reach the goal? "By combining original data collection and rigorous scientific research in order to offer reliable solutions to policy-makers seeking to improve the lives of the poor", says Eliana La Ferrara, Scientific Director of the laboratory.
"We follow two lines of research", continues La Ferrara: "the rigorous evaluation of anti-poverty policies’ impact, in partnership with governments and NGOs from around the world, and the analysis of the causes of poverty, using administrative and survey data to explore different hypotheses". The latter aspect distinguishes LEAP from similar initiatives, such as J-PAL MIT.
The establishment of LEAP was made possible by a contribution of €1.25 mln from Fondazione Romeo ed Enrica Invernizzi, as part of its activities in support of scientific research in food, medical and economic sciences that dates back 25 years. "The relationship with the University, which in recent years had led to the naming of Eliana La Ferrara’s Chair in Development Economics", says the President of the Foundation, Anselmo Stucchi, "has further deepened this year with the naming of a research center (ICRIOS, the Invernizzi Center for Research on Innovation, Organization, Strategy and Entrepreneurship) and fundings to LEAP, the PhD School and three research projects". The Fondazione Invernizzi donation for these new initiatives is worth €9 mln. Since 1993 Fondazione Invernizzi has donated almost € 20 mln to Bocconi University.
Bocconi researchers and the other researchers affiliated to the laboratory have long been studying Development Economics and, therefore, LEAP starts with a portfolio of projects in Ghana, Nigeria, Kenya, Tanzania, South Africa, Lesotho, Jamaica, Turkey and Italy (because poverty is not just a developing countries’ problem).
The research areas LEAP covers are:
• agriculture (one project addresses the impact of property rights regulation on women’s status in Rwanda, another agricultural productivity in Uganda),
• education (an evaluation of the effects of education on Turkish women empowerment, an analysis of the educational choices of the children of immigrants in Italy; an assessment of racial integration policies in South Africa; an assessment of women's empowerment policies in Uganda),
• family (an assessment of entertainment education effectiveness: how do the attitudes of young Nigerians exposed to a MTV series focused on the risks of AIDS change?; the effect of famine and other wealth shocks on the chance that girls marry and reproduce precociously in societies that engage in bride price payments)
• finance (the effect of changes in credit contracts on small businesses growth),
• health (the effectiveness of an AIDS prevention policy in Lesotho),
• migration (a project analyzes the relationship between information and attitudes towards immigrants),
• the labor market (an analysis of the relationship between price and effectiveness of entrepreneurship programs in Jamaica; the evaluation of interventions on village economies in Bangladesh; the relationship between the richness of entrepreneurs’ social networks and business results in Africa).
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