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Evidence Briefs

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King Center Faculty Affiliates and Postdoctoral Fellows provide analyses of critical issues in low- and middle-income countries with new research, strategies, and policy proposals.

Can Online Media Reduce Polarization and Foster Democratic Development?

Both traditional and social media are often blamed for exacerbating political polarization, but little research has been carried out in nondemocratic settings, where the government controls traditional media outlets and increasingly influences social media. Postdoctoral Fellow Jeremy Bowles conducted field experiments to study how access to online media in Uganda and Turkey affects participants' political attitudes and behaviors.

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A splash of water

The Power of Passive Technology

Poor water quality contributes to diarrheal disease and high rates of child mortality in many low-income countries. Postdoctoral Fellow Yoshika Crider investigated to what extent people manually treat their water with chlorine and the impact of "passive chlorination", in which water is automatically treated before it is collected, in low-resources settings. While manual chlorination can improve health if used correctly, passive chlorination technologies are effective and more easily scaled.

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The Colombian flag waving on top of a building

Serving the Family and the Party: How Corruption Threatens State Capacity Building in Developing Democracies

Many developing democracies suffer from practices that incentivize leaders to serve interests other than the public, hindering economic development and eroding trust in government. Postdoctoral Fellow Juan Felipe Riaño investigated two types of corruption: nepotism, or favoritism toward family members, and clientelism, where public goods are doled out as a favor for political support.

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woman and child

Separate and Unequal: Evidence on Women's Access to Justice in India

Many acts of violence against women are never brought to justice due to underreporting and failures in justice systems. Research by Postdoctoral Fellow Nirvikar Jassal seeks to understand how women fare in accessing justice in India and to what extent gender-based reforms in policing are reaching their goals.

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two people exchanging money

Building State Capacity with Increased Tax Revenue

Low-income countries bring in relatively little revenue from taxation, hampering their ability to provide basic services to residents and invest in economic development. Research by Postdoctoral Fellow Augustin Bergeron in the Democratic Republic of Congo showcases how a few low-cost changes to tax policy could help governments improve revenue.

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satellite image

Using Satellite Imagery to Understand and Promote Sustainable Development

Researchers from the King Center's Data for Development initiative discuss how AI models can map satellite image inputs to sustainable development outcomes, their potential applications, the limitations of such an approach, and ways to address them.

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map of china

Tracking China's Growth

As the United States and China enter a new and contentious phase of their relationship, Stanford scholars are setting and expanding research agendas to analyze China’s economic development and its impact on the world. 

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people on train

The Conflict Legacy of China's Population Policies

China's One-Child Policy had surprisingly little to do with lowering fertility rates, but it did lead to a severe imbalance in the sex ratio — with consequences that are likely to haunt the country for years.

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person giving food aid

Aid Challenges in Fragile States

Foreign assistance is hampered by ineffective governments in fragile states, but state building may require more effort to work through rather than around governments.

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barbed wire fence

Conflict and Polarization

Intergroup conflicts are among the most formidable obstacles to economic development, but economic interventions can be promising approaches to mitigating polarization and conflict.

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wheat fields

Food Security

Because many of the world’s poorest people work in agriculture, raising farm productivity is critical to improving nutrition and limiting food insecurity.

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hospital sign


Addressing low coverage of preventive health services and products is critical to improving health outcomes. Subsidies, information campaigns, and bringing services closer to users can be effective tools to improve utilization.

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chinese market

Marketing and Entrepreneurship

Most businesses in the developing world are informal, small, and locked in a no-growth cycle of low sales and low profits. Improving access to management tools for small businesses is one way to help entrepreneurs.

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woman on bus

Migration and Refugees

Promoting safe and orderly migration that effectively integrates refugees can help mitigate tensions and foster development and economic growth.

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voting in action

Public Sector Performance

Ineffective public sector performance remains a major obstacle to development in many poor countries. Providing better information to voters and improving community participation can help increase public sector accountability and performance.

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woman gathering water

Water and Poverty

Inadequate water service contributes to poor health outcomes and limits opportunities for education and income generation. Getting better water closer to households and improving maintenance and monitoring can help to improve water supply investments.

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medical computer monitor

US Government Abortion Restrictions for Foreign Aid

US policy requires all foreign NGOs that receive funding to not support abortion, but Stanford researchers found that the policy led to increases in abortion and pregnancies, and a reduction in contraceptive use, in some sub-Saharan African countries.

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