The American University in Cairo (AUC) in Egypt has established a new research center in partnership with the nonprofit Community Jameel in Dubai in the United Arab Emirates; the Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab (J-PAL) in Cambridge, Massachusetts; and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), also in Cambridge. Based at the AUC’s School of Business, the Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab in the Middle East and North Africa (J-PAL MENA) will focus on alleviating poverty and improving lives through evidence-informed policymaking. Since its launch at MIT in 2003, J-PAL has founded seven research centers in Africa, Europe, North America, Latin America and the Caribbean, and Asia.
J-PAL MENA will focus on three main activities: conducting research to inform the decisions of business leaders and policymakers; working with governments, NGOs, foundations, and other organizations to bridge the gap between research and policy; and leading training and workshops for policymakers and researchers. Through these activities, the center will address the causes of poverty in the region, exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. These issues include poor educational outcomes for children, high unemployment among youth and women, gender inequality, strained natural resources, and political conflict that has displaced communities. The new center will be led by Bruno Crépon, professor of economics and econometrics at ENSAE and École Polytechnique in France, and Adam Osman, assistant professor of economics at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in the United States.