For completed Poverty & Equity projects click here.

Democracy, Human Rights and Governance Revisited

Brigitte Seim–PI. In this project, a team of 12 affiliates of the Varieties of Democracy (V-Dem) Project will produce a set of research and policy deliverables for the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). V-Dem has built up a world-leading research infrastructure for collection, curation and aggregation of expert-based data on democracy, human rights and governance (DRG) and is the largest data provider of its kind with more than 350 indicators and 50 indices capturing the various dimensions in these areas. The project will result in five research papers addressing priority DRG issues, including in the areas of closing democratic space, anti-corruption, human rights, female empowerment and development. The project will also produce four data portraits on priority countries for USAID DRG assistance that will outline and analyze the development trends of the main components of democracy from 1974 to 2017. Similarly, the project will involve five regional analyses – one for each USAID geographic region (Latin America/Caribbean, Europe and Eurasia, Middle East/North Africa, Africa and Asia) – that will summarize regional trends in democratic, governance and human rights institutions across multiple indicators from 1974 to 2017. A final set of deliverables is developing data-driven customized applications for easy-to-use data simulations that can be used by DRG officers and other scholars and practitioners.

Planning for India’s Urban Century: Urban Innovations and The Search for SMART Alternatives to Business-as-usual Urbanization

Meenu Tewari–PI. India is facing immense urban development challenges, and therefore important and exciting opportunities. During the next two decades India’s urban population is expected to double to 600 million, when this shift is completed nearly 1 in 2 Indians will live in cities. To support this transition, and ensure that economically successful, climate safe and livable cities are fostered as India urbanizes, an extensive body of new research will be needed to influence plans and policy-making. This research proposes to take advantage of advances in geospatial data, and for the first time combine it with on the ground econometric analysis, as well as case studies, to analyze urban growth patterns, their drivers and assess their costs. The research will analyze, assess and maps out the patterns of India’s urbanization and critically analyze the economic, social and environmental costs of business-as-usual urbanization in India. This evidence will provide insights into the benefits of smarter urban development, including proposing innovative approaches towards encouraging more compact and connected urban growth that can support economic development, reduce poverty and cut down carbon emissions.

Chokepoints: A Comparative Global Ethnograph

Townsend Middleton–PI. This project brings together social scientists from anthropology, geography and sociology to examine chokepoints–canals, tunnels, pipelines, geopolitical corridors, etc–from around the world. Chokepoints are sites that constrict–or ‘choke’–the flow of information, bodies, and goods due to their natural and anthropogenic qualities. They are, by definition, integral yet difficult to bypass. These bottlenecks accordingly funnel the movements of capital, commodities and populations in ways that ripple far beyond their immediate surrounds. The project will send six established ethnographers to six corresponding chokepoints to conduct 2-4 months of concentrated research. Fieldwork will be conducted in the summer of 2016, with the team convening for a workshop that will lead to individual and collaborative publications (peer-reviewed journal articles, an edited volume and a website) in 2017 and early 2018. Our mission is to define the problem and intellectual field of chokepoints through rigorous ethnographic and interdisciplinary inquiry. Doing so, the Chokepoints Collective aims to develop analytics of vital interest to a number of scholarly disciplines–and, more importantly, to a range of contemporary global concerns.

Investigating Transitions in Agricultural Livelihoods: Global Change, Response Diversity and Local Food Production in Dominica

Colin Thor West–PI. This project investigates how rural households in the Commonwealth of Dominica continue to cultivate sustainable livelihoods from farming amidst complex dynamics of global economic and environmental change.

PayGoal Evaluation

Kim Manturuk and Jessica DorranceCo-PIs. The UNC Center for Community Capital (CCC) will partner with Neighborhood Trust Financial Partners (NTFP) to conduct an evaluation of the PayGoal project. This evaluation will determine whether PayGoal is an effective way to help lower-wage workers transition away from higher-cost financial services such as check cashing. The evaluation will also measure the impacts that PayGoal has on participants’ credit reports, progress towards savings goals, debt levels, and beliefs about money management. The evaluation will use data collected before participants enroll in PayGoal and at several points throughout the project in order to understand how PayGoal fits in people’s overall financial lives.

Assessing the Impacts of Pairing Coaching with Financial Products: Research on Effective Money Management/Manejo de Efectivo

Jessica Dorrance–PI. The four-city pilot project tests product, incentive, outreach, and support innovations for encouraging regular savings patterns with a goal of building long-term, beneficial banking relationships anchored on savings accounts for under- or poorly-served Latino households. It will also generate important insights about the challenges and opportunities inherent in offering mainstream banking services to and building financial capability of underserved Latino households. Participants in the Effective Money Management/Manejo de Efectivo program meet one-on-one with financial coaches for one year. The coaching focuses on increasing knowledge, improving budgeting skills, using banking services, establishing and maintaining credit, building savings, using insurance, and protecting assets. Counselors work with participants to assess their current financial situation, help tailor a financial action plan to achieve both short- and long-term financial goals, and track progress over a 12-month period. The ultimate goal is to develop a customer acquisition approach that fosters long-term attachment to mainstream financial institutions and products and to make a significant impact on market practices and to inform policy in this arena.

Durham Innovation Fund Professional Development

Mark McDaniel–PI. Bridges2Success (B2S) is an early childhood-to-career research and demonstration collaborative focused on helping males of color achieve academic and life success. Our view is that for minority males, difficulties often begin early in life–perhaps even before birth–and that the structural, organizational, and individual obstacles become ever more daunting as they move progressively through the life course. The project with the Durham Innovation Fund will involve implementation of a comprehensive professional development program, including a series of ongoing, specialized B2S teacher professional development modules to help teachers and schools improve the academic and social outcomes of their male students. The B2S professional development modules are designed to provide teachers with the opportunity to examine in-depth males’ achievement and engagement in their classes, to reflect on their pedagogy and practices for engaging and supporting males’ learning, and to replace ineffective practices with evidence-based practices and enact policies that will result in improved outcomes for males. The professional development modules will contain opportunities for participants to learn about the latest research, to engage their peers in identifying successful practices, to rehearse and role-play alternative strategies and techniques, and to develop patterns of monitoring their own and males’ progress over time.