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pdel_research_icons_under_titles-03.06.17-02.pngThe mobile phone has emerged as a critical conduit to offer a whole suite of financial services to previously marginalized populations.

Mobile money has opened access to financial services for millions of the world’s poorest people. PDEL projects are developing innovative platforms for cash transfers, savings services, agricultural trading, and the payment of school fees.

Current Projects

Improving Tax Collection Capacity in the Developing World

Researcher: David Lagakos (UC San Diego) and Anders Jensen (Harvard)
Location: Ghana

The goal of the project is to identify the key constraints on local government tax collection capacity, which remains low in most developing countries. This low level of tax collection leads to a low level of public goods provision. After creating a database of taxation capacity in Ghana, researchers will conduct a randomized control trial to assess the impact of introducing a combination of new technologies and new tax collection methods. 

How Does First-Time Mobile Phone Access Affect Remote Communities?

Researchers: Arman Rezaee (UC Davis), Joshua Blumenstock (UC Berkeley), and Erin Troland (Treasury Department)
Location: Philippines

What are the net social and economic impacts of providing first-time mobile phone network access to previously disconnected communities? Researchers will use a randomized control trial which varies the timing of new cell phone tower installation in geographically isolated villages in the Philippines. 

Building a High-Tech Trading Platform for Smallholder Farmers in Uganda 

Researchers: Craig McIntosh (GPS), Paul Gertler (UC Berkeley), Lauren Falcao (UC Berkeley), and Richard Ssekibuule (Makerere University)
Location: Uganda

Using highly scalable technologies, this study aims to develop a suite of tools and methods that both measure the shallowness in African food markets and offer solutions for market deepening.

Paying School Fees via Mobile Money in Benin 

Researchers: Claire Adida (UC San Diego), Jennifer Burney (UC San Diego), and Ganz Chockalingam (UC San Diego)
Location: Benin

This project develops and tests a system that allows users to make remittances directly towards secondary school fees, rather than to an individual, by mobile phone, with low transaction costs.

Past Projects

Tracking the Impact of GiveDirectly Transfers with Mobile Surveys in Kenya 

Researchers: Paul Niehaus (UC San Diego) and Johannes Haushofer
Location: Kenya

Conducting traditional survey-based research in developing countries can be labor-intensive and costly, and the end result can lack nuance and multi-dimensionality. This project addresses weaknesses in traditional experimental social-science research design through innovative use of mobile phones in conducting surveys.

Mobile Salary-linked Savings in Afghanistan

Researchers: Mike Callen (UC San Diego), Josh Blumenstock, and Tarek Ghani
Location: Afghanistan

In a country where only 3 percent of the adult population uses a saving account, this project aims to develop and pilot a simple mobile phone-based saving system that will enable Afghan mobile subscribers to deposit and accumulate balances in a phone-based savings account.

Interlinking Insurance and Credit for Agriculture in Ethiopia

Researchers: Craig McIntosh (GPS), Aleko Sarris (University of Athens), Shukri Ahmed (FAO), and Assefa Admassie (Ethiopian Economics Association)
Location: Ethiopia

This study tests whether a simultaneous provision of credit and insurance can improve uptake of inputs including fertilizer and improved seeds, which lead to increased agricultural productivity.


Claire Adida
Department of Political Science

Ganz Chockalingam

Craig McIntosh

Paul Niehaus
Department of Economics

Ramesh Rao

Krislert Sampantharak