The Thought Leadership Paper series launched in August 2012 as another path for Abt Associates’ talented staff to share their ideas with the world. The series includes working papers, white papers, and re-publications representing a rich diversity of thought leadership from across Abt Associates. Papers in the series undergo a peer review process.

"The Centers of Excellence Approach in the Dominican Republic: Empowering Teams to Improve Maternal and Neonatal Health Outcomes"

This paper by Elizabeth Conklin, Alexandra Hulme, and Carlos Cuellar describes how a “Centers of Excellence” capacity building approach in the Dominican Republic brought about changes in the health system that led to service delivery and quality improvements and substantial reductions in maternal and neonatal mortality.

"Empowering Vulnerable Populations to Build Resilience: Concept Note and Project-Based Applications"

Thierry van Bastelaer proposes a simple framework to analyze resilience and to guide the development of programs to strengthen it across the domestic and international spheres. The paper is guided and illustrated by Abt Associates’ experience with almost 50 years of research and implementation programs in areas as diverse as social and economic policy, health, food security, and climate change. Beyond arguing for the broad applicability of the concept of resilience across these areas, the paper also sets out to identify four resilience-enhancing strategies that, when combined, significantly increase the effectiveness of risk management efforts. Finally, the paper underscores the potential for cross-fertilization between the domestic and international applications of resilience.

"A Review of Methods to Evaluate HIV Prevention Interventions for People Who Inject Drugs in Low- and Middle-income Countries: Methods, Gaps, Challenges and Opportunities"

Theodore M. Hammett investigates the inter-related epidemics of HIV and injection drug use, which are global in geography but concentrated in low- and middle-income countries (LMIC). There has been substantial evaluation of HIV prevention programs for people who inject drugs but persistent debate about, and generally low uptake and coverage of, interventions in LMIC.

"How Much Money Should Be Set Aside for Accruals in HUD’s Rental Assistance Demonstration?"

Abt Associates' Meryl Finkel examines the range of funds that Public Housing Authorities and other multifamily property owners currently set aside in their reserves for accrual of capital needs, describes why deposits to public housing replacement reserves typically are substantially lower than in other comparable properties, and explains why PHAs properties should be setting aside more funds up front.

"The Moving to Opportunity Demonstration’s Impact on Health and Well-being Among High Dosage Participants"

Abt Associates’ Shawn Moulton and Laura R. Peck and independent consultant Keri-Nicole Dillman estimate the impact of the Moving to Opportunity (MTO) Fair Housing Demonstration Program for participants who spent more than half of their follow-up time in low poverty neighborhoods. They find that those who spend more time in lower poverty neighborhoodsexperience higher levels of neighborhood and housing quality, lower levels of psychological distress and depressive symptoms among adults, and higher levels of general health among children relative to their control group counterparts. 

Jacob Klerman explores Unemployment Insurance (UI) programs and possible reforms.  Specifically, the paper reviews the theory of UI, the details of American UI programs, and the evaluation evidence—from the U.S. and from Europe.  Drawing on this review, the paper considers the implications of secular and cyclical changes in the U.S. economy for the details of American Unemployment Insurance programs.

Laura Peck explores an approach to identify what specifically it is about a policy intervention that is responsible for any observed effects. Researchers and policymakers are increasingly dissatisfied with the “average treatment effect.” This paper recasts earlier work on analyzing “what works” as this call to action for evaluators and policy analysts: We can and should do better.
Stephen Bell and Laura Peck address concerns about social experiments.The authors explore 15 concerns about such experiments and find each of them less objectionable than is widely believed.


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