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Abstract: Botswana-based nonprofit organization Youth Impact was interested in replicating a well-known HIV prevention program in Kenya. Youth Impact’s founders, Moitshepi Matsheng and Noam Angrist were looking to address staggeringly high rates of HIV infection in Botswana and wondered if a Kenyan intervention, with rigorously proven success in reducing HIV transmission among adolescent girls, would work in Botswana. The school-based intervention was designed to reduce the high prevalence of “sugar daddy” relationships in which younger girls engaged in relationships with older men in exchange for gifts or financial support. In 2003, Princeton economist Pascaline Dupas conducted a randomized controlled trial of the intervention which proved that the program successfully changed behavior. In the multimedia case, Matsheng and Angrist grapple with whether the results of the Kenyan intervention can be generalized to the Botswana context and if any changes are necessary to produce similar results. The case ends with Matsheng and Angrist at a crossroads: Should they gather more evidence on the impact of their pilot or roll out the program nationwide? A final video (accessible to educators only) may be shown in class to reveal Matsheng and Angrist’s path forward and the results of their decision.
Learning Objectives: Students will use the real-life example of Youth Impact to: evaluate the external validity of rigorous research; gain skills in building theories of change to identify and articulate assumptions behind successful interventions and explore whether those assumptions hold in different contexts (Kenya vis-à-vis Botswana); and, understand the reality of implementing programs and what constitutes “good enough” information as a critical part of using evidence in policy.