Working Paper. Early Marriages in Middle East and North Africa. Initiative on VAW, Carr Center, Harvard Kennedy School. Abstract

    "Child marriage remains a widely ignored violation of the health and development rights of girls and young women” (IPPF, 2006). Many reasons are given by parents and guardians to justify child marriage.  Economic reasons often underpin these decisions which are directly linked to poverty and the lack of economic opportunities for girls in rural areas. Girls are either seen as an economic burden or valued as capital for their exchange value in terms of goods, money or livestock. A combination of cultural, traditional, and religious arguments are examples utilized to justify child marriage. The fear and stigma attached to premarital sex and bearing children outside marriage, and the associated family “honor,” are often seen as valid reasons for the actions that families take. Finally, many parents tend to curtail the education of their girls and marry them off, due to fear of the high level of sexual violence and abuse encountered en route to, and even at, school.

    R Zanibbi, M Hearst, S Zhu, M Menietti, J Crusan, I Metelsky, K Lakhani, and C Riedl. Working Paper. “Detecting Figures and Part Label in Patents: Competition-Based Development of Image Processing Algorithms.” Harvard-NASA Tournament Lab Technical Report, 01: 1-14. Publisher's Version Abstract

    We report the findings of a month-long online competition in which participants developed algorithms for augmenting the digital version of patent documents published by the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). The goal was to detect figures and part labels in U.S. patent drawing pages. The challenge drew 232 teams of two, of which 70 teams (30%) submitted solutions. Collectively, teams submitted 1,797 solutions that were compiled on the competition servers. Participants reported spending an average of 63 hours developing their solutions, resulting in a total of 5,591 hours of development time. A manually labeled dataset of 306 patents was used for training, online system tests, and evaluation. The design and performance of the top-5 systems are presented, along with a system developed after the competition which illustrates that winning teams produced near state-of-the-art results under strict time and computation constraints. For the 1st place system, the harmonic mean of recall and precision (f-measure) was 88.57% for figure region detection, 78.81% for figure regions with correctly recognized figure titles, and 70.98% for part label detection and character recognition. Data and software from the competition are available through the online UCI Machine Learning repository to inspire follow-on work by the image processing community.

    Andrea Blasco, Olivia S. Jung, Karim R. Lakhani, and Michael E. Menietti. Working Paper. “Motivating Effort in Contributing Public Goods Inside Organizations: Field Experimental Evidence”. Publisher's Version Abstract

    We investigate the factors driving workers’ decisions to generate public goods inside an organization through a randomized solicitation of workplace improvement proposals in a medical center with 1,200 employees. We find that pecuniary incentives, such as winning a prize, generate a threefold increase in participation compared to non-pecuniary incentives alone, such as prestige or recognition. Participation is also increased by a solicitation appealing to improving the workplace. However, emphasizing the patient mission of the organization led to countervailing effects on participation. Overall, these results are consistent with workers having multiple underlying motivations to contribute to public goods inside the organization consisting of a combination of pecuniary and altruistic incentives associated with the mission of the organization.

    This essay discusses the multiple roles played by the members of the Human Rights Committee in giving effect to the rights guaranteed by the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. It argues that the most important contribution the members make to the human rights project consists in their credible, professional elaboration of those rights, particularly by means of the Committee’s Views and General Comments, as emphasized by the International Court of Justice in the Diallo case. While the Committee members should be open to learning from the insights of other treaty bodies, they should resist urgings toward a simplistic harmonization. The texts and interpretations of other ‘core’ human rights treaties must be used with care in the members’ independent exercise of their own interpretive function.

    Simon Fraser University Fernando Aragon and Simon Fraser University Anke Kessler. Working Paper. “Property Rights on First Nations' Reserve Land”. Abstract

    This paper examines the economic effects of existing private property rights on First Na- tions’ reserves. We focus on three forms of land tenure regimes: lawful possession, designated land, and permits. These land regimes have been used to create individual land holdings and lease out reserve land to band and non-band members. Using confidential Census micro- data and rich administrative data, we find evidence of improvements in home ownership and housing conditions, as well as increments in band’s public spending. However, we do not find significant effects on household income or employment outcomes. Instead, we document a sizeable increase in non-Aboriginal population. Our findings suggest that some caution is warranted when discussing the potential economic benefits of property rights reforms for First Nations’ communities.

    Mercè Crosas. Working Paper. “The Rise of Data Publishing (and how Dataverse 4 can help).” Journal of Technology Science. Publisher's Version Abstract

     The research community needs reliable, standard ways to make the data produced by scientific research available to the community, while getting credit as data authors. As a result, a new form of scholarly publication is emerging: data publishing. Data pubishing - or making data long-term accessible, reusable and citable - is more involved than simply providing a link to a data file or posting the data to the researchers web site. In this paper, we define what is needed for proper data publishing and describe how the open-source Dataverse software helps define, enable and enhance data publishing for all.

    K Lakhani, K Boudreau, I Ganguli, P Gaule, E Guinan, and T Hollenberg. Working Paper. “A Field Experiment on Search Costs and the Formation of Scientific Collaborations”. Publisher's Version Abstract

    Scientists typically self-organize into teams, matching with others to collaborate in the production of new knowledge. We present the results of a field experiment conducted at Harvard Medical School to understand the extent to which search costs affect matching among scientific collaborators. We generated exogenous variation in search costs for pairs of potential collaborators by randomly assigning individuals to 90-minute structured information-sharing sessions as part of a grant funding opportunity for biomedical researchers. We estimate that the treatment increases the baseline probability of grant co-application of a given pair of researchers by 75% (increasing the likelihood of a pair collaborating from 0.16 percent to 0.28 percent), with effects higher among those in the same specialization. The findings indicate that matching between scientists is subject to considerable frictions, even in the case of geographically-proximate scientists working in the same institutional context with ample access to common information and funding opportunities.

    Felipe Barrera-Osorio, David S. Blakeslee, Matthew Hoover, Leigh L. Linden, Dhushyanth Raju, and Stephen Ryan. Working Paper. “Leveraging the Private Sector to Improve Primary School Enrolment: Evidence from a Randomized Controlled Trial in Pakistan 1”. Abstract

    We evaluate the effects of publicly funded private primary schools on child enrollment in a sample of 199 villages in 10 underserved districts of rural Sindh province, Pakistan. The program is found to significantly increase child enrollment, which increases by 30 percentage points in treated villages. There is no overall differential effect of the intervention for boys and girls, due to similar enrollment rates in control villages. We find no evidence that providing greater financial incentives to entrepreneurs for the recruitment of girls leads to a greater increase in female enrollment than does an equal compensation scheme for boys and girls. Test scores improve dramatically in treatment villages, rising by 0.67 standard deviations relative to control villages. (November 2013)


    The movement of Effective Altruism and social impact investing signifies a shift in philanthropy towards measured impact. GiveDirectly, a nonprofit organization that facilitates unconditional cash transfers to the poor in Kenya and Uganda, operates under the reasonable premise that poor people know what makes them better off. Microfinance institutions operate under the same assumption and provide low-interest loans to the poor. Models of providing poor people with funds through unconstrained donations or microloans tout how the funds are often used to start businesses. Research suggests that this is true in practice[1] and, more importantly, that business creation is an important component of economic development[2].

    These models, however, neglect the influence of culture on the use of funds. Some empirical research has already shown that culture influences how people spend money[3]. It is plausible that members of ‘interdependent’ communities allocate a smaller proportion of their income to personal spending due to a social stigma in comparison to ‘individual’ communities. This phenomenon plausibly extends to the use of unconstrained funds that are either donated or loaned. This research project will study the relationship between cultures of interdependence and spending. It will investigate the question: how does interdependence in a community influence the ways in which community members spend donated or loaned funds?



    [1] Canales, Rodrigo, Dean Karlan, and Tony Sheldon. "What Are the Realities of Microfinance?" Yale School of Management. N.p., 20 Sept. 2016. Web. 18 Dec. 2016.


    [2] Szirmai, Adam, Wim Naudé, and Micheline Goedhuys. "Entrepreneurship, Innovation, and Economic Development: An Overview." Entrepreneurship, Innovation, and Economic Development (2011): 3-32. Web.

    [3] Boris, Cynthia. "New Study Shows Cultural Impact on Shopping Habits." Marketing Pilgrim Links RSS. N.p., 3 July 2013. Web. 18 Dec. 2016.


    Working Paper. Substantive Rights Protected by International Human Rights Instruments (ICCPR, ACHR, ECHR, ACHPR*). Initiative on VAW, Carr Center, Harvard Kennedy School. Abstract

    This working paper explores specific articles of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), American Convention on Human Rights (ACHR), European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (ECHR), and African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights (ACHPR). The following chart examines which articles in these international instruments protect different human rights. 

    The Power of Numbers: A Critical Review of MDG Targets and Indicators

    The Power of Numbers project is a goal-by-goal analysis of the Millennium Development Goals which refocuses the debate on the MDGs, assessing whether they have shifted the policy priorities of governments, donors, NGOs, and other stakeholders. The analysis brings much needed attention to understanding the global goals as policy instruments, and seeks to inform discussions of the post-2015 sustainable development agenda. The papers below have been further developed and have been published in book form.

    Building on 11 case studies and a conceptual framework, this book provides a goal-by-goal analysis by leading specialists in the relevant fields. These specialists analyse the choices made, as well as the empirical and normative effects of the MDGs to offer insights for a more rigorous use of indicators and cautions on their limitations and perverse consequences. This book was originally published as a special issue of the Journal of Human Development and Capabilities.

    Overview – The Power of Numbers: A Critical Review of MDG Targets for Human Development and Human Rights,Sakiko Fukuda-Parr and Alicia Ely Yamin, May 2013.

    Lessons for Setting Targets and Selecting Indicators – The Power of Numbers: A Critical Review of MDG Targets for Human Development and Human Rights, Sakiko Fukuda-Parr and Alicia Ely Yamin, May 2013.

    Synthesis Paper – The Power of Numbers: A Critical Review of MDG Targets for Human Development and Human Rights, Sakiko Fukuda-Parr, Alicia Ely Yamin, and Joshua Greenstein, May 2013.

    The inclusion of Full Employment in MDG1, What lessons for a Post-2015 Development Agenda?, Rolph van der Hoeven, May 2013.

    Setting an Income Poverty Goal After 2015, Ugo Gentilini and Andy Sumner, May 2013.

    The MDG Hunger Target and the Contested Visions of Food Security, Sakiko Fukuda-Parr and Amy Orr, May 2013.

    Education targets, indicators and a post-2015 development agenda: Education for All, the MDGs, and human development, Elaine Unterhalter, May 2013.

    No Empowerment without Rights, No Rights without Politics: Gender-Equality, MDGs and the post 2015 Development Agenda, Gita Sen and Avanti Mukherjee, May 2013.

    The Questionable Power of the Millennium Development Goal to Reduce Child Mortality, Elisa Diaz-Martinez and Elizabeth D. Gibbons, May 2013.

    From Transforming Power to Counting Numbers: The evolution of sexual and reproductive health and rights in development; and where we want to go from here, Alicia Ely Yamin and Vanessa M. Boulanger, May 2013.

    MDG 6: AIDS and the International Health Agenda, Nicoli Nattrass, May 2013.

    The City is Missing in the Millennium Development Goals, Michael Cohen, May 2013.

    Quantifying Water and Sanitation in Development Cooperation: Power or Perversity?, Malcolm Langford and Inga T. Winkler, May 2013.

    Analysis of Millennium Development Goal 8: A global partnership for development, Aldo Caliari, May 2013.

    Nicole S. Simon, Susan Moore Johnson, and Stefanie K. Reinhorn. Working Paper. “The Matchmaking Process: Teacher Hiring in Six Successful, High-Poverty, Urban Schools”. Abstract

    This qualitative analysis of teacher teams is part of a larger, comparative case study, “Developing Human Capital Within Schools,” conducted by the Project on the Next Generation of Teachers.  Within one city, we interviewed 142 teachers and administrators in six high-poverty schools (three charter and three district), all of which had achieved the highest ranking in the state’s accountability system.  Here, we analyze how each school approached the process of teacher hiring and how both administrators and teachers experienced it.  All schools assessed candidates through a two-way hiring process which provided both schools and candidates with opportunities to exchange information and assess one another before making an offer or signing a contract.  Each school’s hiring process included multiple steps, such as screening résumés and cover letters, a pre-interview phone screening, an interview with the principal, a teaching demonstration and debrief, and a school visit.  Throughout these steps, schools recognized that they needed to court candidates if they offered a position, so that the applicant would accept it.  Those involved were clear that the investment of time and resources was very worthwhile and helped to ensure a good, secure fit between a school and its teachers.  

    Susan Moore Johnson, Stefanie K. Reinhorn, and Nicole S. Simon. Working Paper. “Ending Isolation: The Payoff of Teacher Teams in Successful High-Poverty Urban Schools”. Abstract

    Teacher teams are increasingly common in schools today, yet their record for promoting meaningful collaboration is uneven. Recently, however, research suggests that teams have promise for supporting teachers’ development and improving student achievement (Rondfelt, Farmer, McQueen, and Grissom (2015); Author, forthcoming.) For this qualitative study of school-based teacher teams, we interviewed 142 teachers and administrators in six schools (3 district, 3 charter) located in one city. All schools served students in high-poverty, high-minority communities and had achieved the highest ranking in the state’s accountability system. Five of the six schools relied on teams as a central mechanism for school improvement, dedicating substantial blocks of time each week for teachers’ meetings. Teams focused on matters of content (curriculum, lesson plans, and student achievement) and the student cohort (individual progress, group behavior, and organizational culture). Teachers valued their work on teams, saying that it supported their instruction and contributed to their school’s success by creating coherence across classrooms and shared responsibility for students. Factors that supported teams included having a worthy purpose in support of the school’s mission; sufficient, regular time for meetings; engaged support by administrators; and facilitation by trained teacher leaders. We discuss implications for policy, practice, and research.