PDRI affiliates receive support from the Penn Global Research and Engagement Grant Program

April 2022

PDRI is pleased to announce that several PDRI-affiliated faculty have received awards from the Penn Global Research and Engagement Grant Program. The program prioritizes projects that bring together leading scholars and practitioners across the University community and beyond to develop new insight on significant global issues in key countries and regions around the world. Several of these projects are funded through the new Holman Africa Research and Engagement Fund (HAREF) at Penn.

Penn Global will host a symposium on April 27th at Perry World House to introduce the new projects supported by the grant program.

The following PDRI-affiliated researchers received support from the initiative:

Susanna Berkouwer (The Wharton School)

Health and Environmental Benefits of Improved Cookstoves

Three billion people across the world still use traditional cooking methods: in Sub-Saharan Africa, 77% of households will still not have access to modern cooking services by 2030 according to the World Bank. East Africa in particular is a ‘hotspot’ where demand for charcoal, used to support traditional cooking methods, is unsustainable. In 2019 Berkouwer launched a randomized controlled trial with 1,000 residents of Nairobi, Kenya that demonstrated that the modern Jikokoa cookstove reduced daily charcoal usage by 40%. Given that initial research identified large charcoal usage reductions, significant health benefits are plausible, especially after three years of daily use. This 2022 follow-up is designed to rigorously measure air pollution and respiratory health outcomes using state-of-the-art pollution and medical monitoring technologies.

Heather Schofield (The Wharton School and PSOM)

 Building the Habit of Regular Labor Supply in the Informal Market

Many individuals in low-income settings work surprisingly few days. This is a cause of concern for two reasons. First, this directly translates into lower earnings – in itself a major policy concern. Second, when more people are working, the overall economy benefits due to increased demand and investment. The existing economics literature has traditionally viewed low employment levels as a result of difficulty in finding work. While this view is undoubtedly important, it has not been able to fully explain low levels of work. Using an RCT which incentivizes casual workers to arrive at the labor stand by 8am, Schofield’s project will explore whether building a habit of regular and timely labor supply can increase work and earnings. Understanding what gives rise to these patterns will have broad policy implications for understanding which policies may be leveraged to improve the livelihood of the poor and, ultimately, sustain economic growth.

Sharon Wolf (Penn GSE)

 Leveraging Early Adolescence for Development (LEAP) in Ghana

Early adolescence offers a key window of opportunity to support human development. Interventions during early adolescence may seize age-specific opportunities to prevent risks; bolster the effectiveness of investments made earlier in life; and mitigate damage from early-life adversity. Parenting programs are especially promising. Yet evidence on whether such programs can fulfill this potential, for which children, and through which channels, is scant, especially in low-resource settings. This project’s overall objective is to inform a deeper understanding of parents’ attitudes towards engagement in their adolescent’s education and well-being, with a gender-equity lens to understand attitudes towards children using community-based participatory research with caregivers and adolescents in four peri-urban communities in Ghana. The results will inform the adaptation of a parent engagement intervention to increase engagement and support adolescent well-being and to pilot test the program with a small group of families.


Guy Grossman (Political Science) and PDRI

Penn Development Research Institute (PDRI) Fellowship for African scholars

The Penn Development Research Initiative (PDRI) is launching a competitive fellowship for international development scholars from sub-Saharan Africa with PhDs to spend a semester in residence at Penn during the 2023 fall semester. The Fellowship will support efforts to build capacity for rigorous research on pressing policy challenges facing African countries through the establishment of interdisciplinary partnerships between Penn researchers and African scholars and provision of training and research opportunities for emerging African researchers. During their time at Penn, fellows will present their own research as guest lecturers, attend workshops and seminars, receive advanced training, and launch collaborative research projects with Penn faculty and students.