BERI, an initiative of the Center for Effective Global Action (CEGA) at UC Berkeley, is founded on the recognition that increased availability of reproductive health and family planning services in developing countries may not be sufficient to ensure that individuals achieve their desired reproductive outcomes. Insights from behavioral economics can help overcome many of the remaining challenges (including procrastination, misaligned incentives for health care providers, and problems with intra-household bargaining). BERI researchers partner with service providers to identify such constraints, design interventions to overcome them and evaluate their effectiveness. Ultimately, BERI seeks to generate actionable evidence that improves the lives of women and their families throughout the developing world.
To understand the impacts of economic and social programs and policies, BERI researchers use randomized trials and other rigorous techniques for evaluation.
Randomized evaluations, adapted from clinical research, allow us to compare the behavior of a “test” or “treatment” group (for example, children enrolled in a tutoring program) with the behavior of a closely matched comparison group that does not receive the treatment. By randomizing allocation of the treatment, we can assume that the treatment and comparison groups are identical at baseline, before the program begins. After the program has been delivered, we can then attribute any differences between the two groups to the treatment. This approach allows us to control for any “outside” factors that may have influenced program outcomes—such as changes in the economy, or regional outbreaks of a disease.
In addition to randomized evaluation, BERI researchers use quasi-experimental methods to assess program impacts. These methods allow for precise measurement of treatment effects, by constructing a comparison group that closely matches the treatment group at baseline. Combined with careful qualitative research, these techniques can help us answer whether, why, and how a strategy works.
BERI generates publicly available evidence to improve program design across the developing world.
Our evaluations focus on how to overcome salient challenges common to practitioners across many settings, where there is currently a gap in the evidence. Our investigators aim to isolate, understand, and disseminate the generalizable features of a particular program or policy. In this way, the results from one evaluation can benefit many. Ultimately our researchers’ results will reach a wide array of actors – NGOs, government agencies, policymakers and donors – who can scale up workable interventions well beyond the immediate scope of the evaluation.