Works Cited Introduction Wide consensus exists that the international drug trade poses significant health and national security risks for the nations of the Americas.
Illustration by Davor Pavelic Would you rather help one child a little bit today, or wait a few years and help five children even more? Admittedly, this trade-off is complex, imprecise, and uncertain.
But the promise of research that can help us do more good per dollar spent is enticing. Good impact evaluations—those that answer policy-relevant questions with rigor—have improved development knowledge, policy, and practice.
For example, the NGO Living Goods conducted a rigorous evaluation to measure the impact of its community health model based on door-to-door sales and promotions.
The evidence of impact was strong: Their model generated a percent reduction in child mortality. Meanwhile, rigorous evidence continues to further validate the model and help to make it work even better. Of course, not all rigorous research offers such quick and rosy results.
Consider the many studies required to discover a successful drug and the lengthy process of seeking regulatory approval and adoption by the healthcare system. The same holds true for fighting poverty: Innovations for Poverty Action IPAa research and policy nonprofit that promotes impact evaluations for finding solutions to global poverty, has conducted more than randomized controlled trials RCTs since its inception in These studies have sometimes provided evidence about how best to use scarce resources e.
But the vast majority of studies did not paint a clear picture that led to immediate policy changes. Developing an evidence base is more like building a mosaic: Each individual piece does not make the picture, but bit by bit a picture becomes clearer and clearer.
How do these investments in evidence pay off? The ratio was 74x—a huge result. But this is far from a precise measure of impact, since IPA cannot establish what would have happened had IPA never existed.
Yes, IPA recognizes the irony of advocating for RCTs while being unable to subject its own operations to that standard. Many questions and circumstances do not call for RCTs. Even so, a simple thought exercise helps to demonstrate the potential payoff.
IPA never works alone—all evaluations and policy engagements are conducted in partnership with academics and implementing organizations, and increasingly with governments. Moving from an idea to the research phase to policy takes multiple steps and actors, often over many years.
But even if IPA deserves only 10 percent of the credit for the policy changes behind the benefits calculated above, the ratio of benefits to costs is still 7.Transgender people face specific and unique difficulty in prisons and jails due to ignorance, discrimination, and violence from guards and other prisoners.
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U.S. Drug Control in the Americas: Time for a Change by Wesley A. Fryer 30 August A Fulbright-Garcia Robles grant administered by the U.S.-Mexico Commission for Educational and Cultural Exchange supported this research.
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