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Uzbek accents are to be heard in the global experience




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After a series of negotiations of the Center for Economic Research and Reforms under the Administration of the president of the Republic of Uzbekistan (CERR) with J-PAL and its European branch J-PAL Europe, a trip of their representatives to Uzbekistan was organized on 10-11 May, writes Feruzbek Davletov, CERR.

The purpose of the trip was to establish close ties, expand the research potential of the ministries and departments of the republic, clarify some priority areas for combating poverty and identify prospects for further partnership in the field of joint research on social protection, employment, entrepreneurship, education, etc.

In Uzbekistan J-PAL was represented by J-PAL Europe Policy Director Killian Nolan, Evidence Scaling Manager at J-PAL Global and Policy Manager at J-PAL Europe Kate Petersen and Senior Policy Specialist at J-PAL Europe Anna Lazzarin.

Potential of the research partnership

The Abdul Latif Jamil Poverty Action Laboratory (J-PAL) is a global research center working on poverty reduction using integrated research. J-PAL was founded in 2003 at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) by Professors Abhijit Banerjee, Esther Duflo and Sendhil Mullainathan with the aim of changing the global approach to the problems of global poverty.

Today, the core staff of J-PAL includes more than 400 specialists from various fields in seven offices around the world. In addition, the laboratory has a network of 260 affiliated professors at various universities around the world who conduct so-called “randomized controlled trials” (RCT) – it is a scientific experiment whose purpose is to identify a causal relationship between an intervention and a result, for example, to test the economic effectiveness of various government programs.

In RCT, participants are randomly distributed (by randomization) between groups. The so-called “experimental group” will include those who will directly receive a new social program, compared with the “control group”, for whose participants the status quo will remain. This installation, subject to certain conditions, provides statistical control over the interventions, allowing to correctly compare groups and assess the impact of the intervention from the point of view of economic feasibility.


It is such studies that have made J-PAL a world leader in conducting high-quality impact assessments. It is worth noting that J-PAL has conducted more than 1,000 randomized assessments in 90 countries over the entire history of its existence on a wide range of topics ranging from providing clean drinking water to microfinance of the population and crime prevention. The role of research personnel responsible for the proper development of survey tools, data collection and statistical analysis is very important here.

In addition to field research, J-PAL continuously supports the creation of practical research resources in the public domain and provides grants and technical assistance to affiliated researchers. Its extensive library of resources contains various guides, analysis tools, surveys, coding, and case study examples.

J-PAL, together with the Department of Economics of MIT, also conducts certified MicroMasters courses focused on the development and implementation of randomized assessments to assess the effectiveness of social programs. In particular, a series of five online courses aims to gain a solid foundation in microeconomics, economic development and statistics with an emphasis on practical data analysis skills.

Thus, thanks to the activities of J-PAL, an extensive database has been created, constantly updated with research on a wide range of topics that makes a huge contribution to the science of social policy.

A profile workshop

As part of the trip of J-PAL experts to Uzbekistan, a two-day scientific and methodological workshop was organized for representatives of relevant ministries and departments of the republic, including the Ministry of Economic Development and Poverty Reduction, the Ministry of Finance, the Ministry of Higher Education, the Ministry of Public Education, the Ministry of Preschool Education, the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Agriculture, the Agency for Labor and Entrepreneurship Development Makhallabay, Institute of Forecasting and Macroeconomic Research, Institute of Labor Market Research, The State Statistics Committee and others.

During the workshop, J-PAL experts presented to the audience the world's best practices and methods for combating poverty. In particular, strengthening social protection and targeting, improving the quality of training programs in the labor market, supporting the growth of small businesses, expanding access to high-quality education, and others. During the workshop, participants were introduced to the basics of the methodology of randomized control trials based on the experience of Peru, India, South Africa, Indonesia, Saudi Arabia and Turkey. Upon completion of the workshop, the participants were issued the participant certificates.

The workshop provided an opportunity for the parties to discuss J-PAL's experience in combating poverty through evidence-based policy-making. The participants were presented with the largest social protection programs in the world and the results of their impact assessments.

Meetings and evaluations

In addition, for a deeper study of the current situation in Uzbekistan by J-PAL Europe experts and the establishment of mutually beneficial partnership, a series of meetings of experts with representatives of ministries and departments directly involved in the process of developing policies towards poverty reduction in the republic were organized. During these meetings, common points of contact of interests were found and prospects for further mutually beneficial partnership were determined. At the same time, the delegation of J-PAL Europe highly noted the work of the government in the field of social policies. It is recommended to pay special attention to the study of global experience in the fight against poverty for consideration in various government programs.

The program of the trip also included visiting the “Monomarkaz: Ishga Marhamat” (mono-center for learning and employment) in Tashkent city in order to get acquainted in more detail with the work to ensure the employment of the unemployed population. According to representatives of J-PAL Europe, the idea of creating such centers for training professional courses in various areas, providing assistance in organized labor migration and other short-term courses on entrepreneurship is one of the important points in the fight against poverty in Uzbekistan, and their activities are noted as "impressive".

Special interest

Experts were particularly interested in the recently introduced institution of the assistants to the khokims in makhallas. In order to become more familiar with their activities, a trip to the makhalla "Hazora" in Samarkand city was organized. Here, representatives of J-PAL Europe were able to see the significance of this institution personally and get acquainted in detail with the arsenal of tools of the assistants to the khokims. In particular, the experts got acquainted with the assistants’ online platform for working with the population and business representatives. At the same time, various assistance programs were explained to them in detail, including the provision of preferential loans, land allocation, training in mono-centers and others. The implementation of the institution of the assistants to the khokims throughout the republic and their activities by experts were assessed as having no analogues around the world.

It is this innovation, due to its originality, that can become the next stage of partnership between the Abdul Latif Jamil Poverty Action Laboratory with Uzbekistan. In particular, the issues of starting field research with the involvement of affiliated J-PAL researchers in makhallas throughout the republic were raised. It is of scientific interest to assess the impact of various programs to assist the population and business, the results of which could contribute to optimizing and improving the effectiveness of the institution of the assistants to the khokims.

Designated priorities

The visit of representatives of a prestigious global organization to Uzbekistan is one of the important stages of strengthening the research potential of the republic in the fight against poverty. There is a constant exchange of information between the relevant ministries and departments and J-PAL. An agreement was achieved on the formation of priority directions of social policies to attract affiliated laboratory researchers around the world to field research in Uzbekistan.

Considering that Uzbekistan is at the initial stage of forming integrated approaches to combat poverty, the study of the J-PAL research process using evidence, the application of advanced methodology to assess the effect of various programs and the development of appropriate social policies is an invaluable experience for employees of ministries and departments of the republic.

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