How Can We Engage the Private Sector to Reach Family Planning Goals in Nigeria?

At this time when the world is working together to achieve the FP 2020 goal of increasing the number of women of childbearing age on family planning methods by 2020 - there is need for a radical change in Nigeria. In addition to supporting Family Planning 2020, Nigeria has set its own target of securing a 36% contraceptive prevalence rate (CPR) by 2018.

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Categories: Family Planning

Sometimes, the Story is in the Subgroups

Program evaluators are often asked to determine whether a given program or program had its intended effects. Getting answers to the question "did it work?" remains the primary goal of many evaluations. But recently, many policy makers and program leaders also want to know "for whom and under what circumstances did the program work?"

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The Special Education Graduation Gap

More than four out of five students in 2014 graduated high school on-time, the highest U.S. rate on record. Now we need to focus on improving graduation rates for students with disabilities.

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Categories: Education

Taxing Unhealthy Foods and Beverages: A Burden or Blessing for the Poor?

In a blog post for the Global Health Council, I debate the benefits and drawbacks to taxing food and beverages that are high in calories but have little nutritional value.

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Rethinking Food Assistance: From Evidence to Policy

It is hard for most of us to imagine going to bed hungry or worried that we can't feed our family because we lack money to do so. Unfortunately 15 percent of American households-48 million people-face this situation. For these people, food security-defined as having access to food at all times and enough food for an active, healthy life-is elusive.

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Categories: Food Security

Social Determinants of Health: Can We Address Equity with Communications?

Both having good health and coping with challenges to health are a journey. Inadequate resources make a successful journey harder. At an individual level, lack of personal resources such as income and knowledge, limit an individual's ability to follow optimal paths to health and vice versa. At a macro level, our society has a finite amount of resources - both monetary and serviceā€related - that realistically will not provide everything to everyone. We do not "naturally" think about health in terms of social factors. However, our health is significantly affected by our homes, jobs, and schools. The social determinants of health are the economic and social conditions—and their distribution among the population – that influence individual and group differences in health status.

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Want Better Evaluations? First Do This

The ultimate goal of policy analysis is to identify programs that work. Policymakers need to know: Does this program work? For whom does this program work? When does this program work? And would some variant of this program work better? To answer these questions, we need estimates of program impact; i.e., outcomes with the program relative to what outcomes would have been without the program. The "gold standard" approach to estimating impact is random assignment, but other methods are often appropriate.

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Can a Policy Innovation Help Families in Public Housing Build Assets and Increase Their Earnings?

Imagine if all recipients of federal rental assistance had access to a savings account that grew as their earnings grew. This shift could potentially lead to a range of benefits, including increased earnings; investments in education, homeownership and small businesses that materially enhance households' well-being; and improvements in mental health. Of course, we don't know for sure whether these outcomes would occur - like all significant policy changes, this policy innovation would need to be rigorously tested. But it's an idea that merits further exploration, especially since any increases in earnings induced by the policy change would generate increased rent revenue that could help offset program costs.

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The Role of #SocialMedia in #PolicyResearch

Social media is replete with promotions, half-truths, and blatant falsehoods. Pith triumphs over validity and nuance. So social media seems like the last place to advance the cause of rigorous social, economic, environmental, or health policy research, which is at the core of Abt Associates' mission.

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Climate Change: A Tipping Point in Paris

My expectations weren't high as I headed toward Paris earlier this month for the United Nations Conference on Climate Change in Paris (COP21). Frankly, I'd been jaded by the lack of progress on climate change over the last 20 years.

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