Gertler, Paul Jerome
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Fields of Specialization
Impact evaluation, Health economics
Externally Hosted Work
Last updated January 31, 2023
Paul Gertler is the Li Ka Shing Professor of Economics at the University of California, Berkeley where he holds appointments in the Haas School of Business and the School of Public Health. He is also the Scientific Director of the UC Center for Effective Global Action. Dr. Gertler is an internationally recognized expert in impact evaluation. Dr. Gertler was Chief Economist of the Human Development Network of the World Bank from 2004-2007 and the Founding Chair of the Board of Directors of the International Initiative for Impact Evaluation (3ie) from 2009-2012. At the World Bank he led an effort to institutionalize and scale up impact evaluation for learning what works in human development. He is the author of the bestselling textbook Applied Impact Evaluation published by the World Bank Press. He has been a Principal Investigator on a large number of at-scale multi-site impact evaluations including Mexico’s CCT program, PROGRESA/OPORTUNIDADES, and Rwanda’s Health Care Pay-for-Performance scheme. He holds a PhD in economics from the University of Wisconsin and prior to UC Berkeley has held academic appointments at Harvard, RAND, and SUNY Stony Brook.
Publication Search Results
Now showing 1 - 10 of 10
Labor Market Returns to Early Childhood Stimulation : A 20-year Followup to an Experimental Intervention in Jamaica(World Bank, Washington, DC, 2013-07) Gertler, Paul ; Heckman, James ; Pinto, Rodrigo ; Zanolini, Arianna ; Vermeersch, Christel ; Walker, Susan ; Chang-Lopez, Susan ; Grantham-McGregor, SallyThis paper finds large effects on the earnings of participants from a randomized intervention that gave psychosocial stimulation to stunted Jamaican toddlers living in poverty. The intervention consisted of one-hour weekly visits from community Jamaican health workers over a 2-year period that taught parenting skills and encouraged mothers to interact and play with their children in ways that would develop their children's cognitive and personality skills. The authors re-interviewed the study participants 20 years after the intervention. Stimulation increased the average earnings of participants by 42 percent. Treatment group earnings caught up to the earnings of a matched non-stunted comparison group. These findings show that psychosocial stimulation early in childhood in disadvantaged settings can have substantial effects on labor market outcomes and reduce later life inequality.
Publication(World Bank, Washington, DC, 2007-04) Cattaneo, Matias D. ; Galiano, Sebastian ; Gertler, Paul J. ; Martinez, Sebastian ; Titiunik, RocioDespite the importance of housing for people's well-being, there has been little work done to assess the causal impact of housing and housing improvement programs on health and welfare. In this paper the authors help fill this gap by investigating the impact of a large-scale effort by the Mexican government to replace dirt floors with cement floors on child health and adult happiness. They find that replacing dirt floors with cement floors significantly reduces parasitic infestations in young children, reduces diarrhea, reduces anemia, and improves cognitive development. Finally, they also find that this program leave adults substantially better off, as measured by satisfaction with their housing and quality of life and by their significantly lower rates of depression and perceived stress.
Publication(World Bank, Washington, DC, 2008-05) Gertler, Paul ; Patrinos, Harry ; Rubio-Codina, MartaMexico's compensatory education program provides extra resources to primary schools that enroll disadvantaged students in highly disadvantaged rural communities. One of the most important components of the program is the school-based management intervention known as AGEs. The impact of the AGEs is assessed on intermediate school quality indicators (failure, repetition and dropout), controlling for the presence of the conditional cash transfer program. Results prove that school-based management is an effective measure for improving outcomes, based on an over time difference-in-difference evaluation. Complementary qualitative evidence corroborates the veracity of such findings.
Publication(World Bank, Washington, DC, 2006-08) Gertler, Paul ; Martinez, Sebastian ; Rubio-Codina, MartaThe authors test whether poor households use cash transfers to invest in income generating activities that they otherwise would not have been able to do. Using data from a controlled randomized experiment, they find that transfers from the Oportunidades program to households in rural Mexico resulted in increased investment in micro-enterprise and agricultural activities. For each peso transferred, beneficiary households used 88 cents to purchase consumption goods and services, and invested the rest. The investments improved the household's ability to generate income with an estimated rate of return of 17.55 percent, suggesting that these households were both liquidity and credit constrained. By investing transfers to raise income, beneficiary households were able to increase their consumption by 34 percent after five and a half years in the program. The results suggest that cash transfers to the poor may raise long-term living standards, which are maintained after program benefits end.
Publication(World Bank, Washington, DC, 2019-06) Garcia-Moreno, Vicente ; Gertler, Paul ; Patrinos, Harry AnthonyA school-based management program was implemented Mexico in 2001 and continued until 2014. This national program, Programa Escuelas de Calidad, was considered a key intervention to improve learning outcomes. In 2006, the national program was evaluated in the Mexican state of Colima, being the first experimental evaluation of the national program. All schools were invited to participate in the program; a random selection was performed to select the treatment and control groups among all the applicants. An intent-to-treat approach did not detect any impact on learning outcomes; a formal school-based management intervention plus a monetary grant was not enough to improve learning outcomes. First, the schools in the evaluation sample, control and treatment, were schools with high learning outcomes. Second, these schools had experienced some years of regular school-based management practices before the evaluation. A difference-in-difference design is used to identify heterogeneous effects of the program on learning outcomes. The difference-in-difference approach shows that the intensity of treatment increased test scores during the first year of the intervention.
Rewarding Provider Performance to Enable a Healthy Start to Life : Evidence from Argentina's Plan Nacer(World Bank, Washington, DC, 2014-05) Gertler, Paul ; Giovagnoli, Paula ; Martinez, SebastianArgentina's Plan Nacer provides insurance for maternal and child health care to uninsured families. The program allocates funding to provinces based on enrollment of beneficiaries and adds performance incentives based on indicators of the use and quality of maternal and child health care services and health outcomes. The provinces use these resources to pay health facilities to provide maternal and child health care services to beneficiaries. This paper analyzes the impact of Plan Nacer on birth outcomes. The analysis uses data from the universe of birth records in seven Argentine provinces for 2004 to 2008 and exploits the geographic phasing in of Plan Nacer over time. The paper finds that the program increases the use and quality of prenatal care as measured by the number of visits and the probability of receiving a tetanus vaccine. Beneficiaries' probability of low birth-weight is estimated to be reduced by 19 percent. Beneficiaries have a 74 percent lower chance of in-hospital neonatal mortality in larger facilities and approximately half this reduction comes from preventing low birth weight and half from better postnatal care. The analysis finds that the cost of saving a disability-adjusted life year through the program was $814, which is highly cost-effective compared with Argentina's $6,075 gross domestic product per capita over this period. Although there are small negative spillover effects on prenatal care utilization of non-beneficiary populations in clinics covered by Plan Nacer, no spillover is found on their birth outcomes.
Promoting Handwashing Behavior in Peru : The Effect of Large-Scale Mass-Media and Community Level Interventions(World Bank, Washington, DC, 2012-11) Galiani, Sebastian ; Gertler, Paul ; Orsola-Vidal, AlexandraThis paper analyzes a randomized experiment that uses novel strategies to promote handwashing with soap at critical times in Peru. It evaluates a large-scale intervention that includes a mass media provincial campaign and a district-level community component. The analysis finds that the mass media intervention alone had no significant effect on exposure to the handwashing promotion campaign messages, and therefore no effect on handwashing knowledge or handwashing behavior. In contrast, the community-level intervention, a more comprehensive intervention that included several community and school activities in addition to the communications campaign, was successful in reaching the target audience with handwashing promotion messages and in improving the knowledge of the treated population on appropriate handwashing behavior. Those improvements translated into higher self-reported and observed handwashing with soap at critical junctures. However, no significant improvements in the health of children under the age of five were observed. The results are consistent with earlier literature, which indicates that substantively changing behavior to improve health is a complex task requiring intensive and more personalized interventions.
Publication(American Economic Association, 2014-11) Davis, Lucas W. ; Fuchs, Alan ; Gertler, PaulThis paper evaluates a large-scale appliance replacement program in Mexico that from 2009 to 2012 helped 1.9 million households replace their old refrigerators and air conditioners with energy-efficient models. Using household-level billing records from the universe of Mexican residential customers, we find that refrigerator replacement reduces electricity consumption by 8 percent, about one-quarter of what was predicted by ex ante analyses. Moreover, we find that air conditioning replacement actually increases electricity consumption. Overall, we find that the program is an expensive way to reduce externalities from energy use, reducing carbon dioxide emissions at a program cost of over $500 per ton.
Publication(World Bank, Washington, DC, 2020-10) Barrera-Osorio, Felipe ; Gertler, Paul ; Nakajima, Nozomi ; Patrinos, Harry AnthonyParental involvement programs aim to increase school-and-parent communication and support children's overall learning environment. This paper examines the effects of low-cost, group-based parental involvement interventions in Mexico using data from two randomized controlled trials. The first experiment provided financial resources to parent associations. The second experiment provided information to parents about how to support their children's learning. Overall, the interventions induced different types of parental engagement in schools. The information intervention changed parenting behavior at home -- with large effects among indigenous parents who have historically been discriminated and socially excluded -- and improved student behavior in school. The grants did not impact parent or student behaviors. Notably, the paper does not find impacts of either intervention on educational achievement. To understand these 0 effects, the paper explores how social ties between parents and teachers evolved over the course of the two interventions. Parental involvement interventions led to significant changes in perceived trustworthiness between teachers and parents. The results suggest that parental involvement interventions can backfire if institutional rules are unclear about the expectations of parents and teachers as parents increase their involvement in schools.
Publication(World Bank, Washington, DC, 2021-09) Gertler, Paul ; Heckman, James ; Pinto, Rodrigo ; Chang-Lopez, Susan M. ; Grantham-McGregor, Sally ; Vermeersch, Christel ; Walker, Susan ; Wright, Amika S.This paper reports the labor market effects of the Jamaica Early Childhood Stimulation intervention at age 31. The study is a small-sample randomized early childhood education stimulation intervention targeting stunted children living in the poor neighborhoods of Kingston, Jamaica. Implemented in 1987–89, treatment consisted of a two-year, home-based intervention designed to improve nutrition and the quality of mother-child interactions to foster cognitive, language, and psycho-social skills. The original sample was 127 stunted children between ages 9 and 24 months. The study was able to track and interview 75 percent of the original sample 30 years after the intervention, both still living in Jamaica and migrated abroad. The findings reveal large and statistically significant effects on income and schooling; the treatment group had 43 percent higher hourly wages and 37 percent higher earnings than the control group. This is a substantial increase over the treatment effect estimated for age 22, when a 25 percent increase in earnings was observed.