Tomoko Harigaya

I am the Director of Research at Precision Development (PxD), a global non-profit that provides actionable information to enable the poor to improve their wellbeing. A core principle of PxD’s approach is to use evidence and rigorous research in learning, innovating, and scaling low-cost interventions that generate large aggregate impacts for low-income households in developing countries.


I am a development economist. In my research I use insights from economics and experimentation to inform the design of development interventions and policies.

I graduated from Harvard Kennedy School with a PhD in Public Policy in 2017. My PhD research focused on understanding how the design of financial service for the poor affects its access, take-up, and impact. Working as a research consultant for Grameen Foundation, I conducted an experiment with a rural bank to assess the effects of digitizing group microfinance transactions.

Prior to graduate school, I lived in the Philippines and served as a Philippines Country Director for Innovations for Poverty Action.



Working papers

Cole S., Harigaya T., Kileen G., and Krishna A. 2021. “Using Satellites and Phones to Evaluate and Promote Agricultural Technology Adoption: Evidence from Smallholder Farms in India”.

A nascent literature demonstrates the feasibility of using satellite data to measure smallholder farmers’ agricultural yields. Yet, such techniques have not yet been widely adopted, particularly within the context of randomized evaluations. In this paper, we use an experiment to estimate the impact of a customized soil nutrient management advice for farmers in Gujarat, India, delivered at low cost via mobile phones.

Harigaya T. 2020. “Effects of Digitization on Financial Behaviors: Experimental Evidence from the Philippines”.

Mobile technology has the potential to increase the efficiency and the usage of financial services for the poor. Many of these services are, however, traditionally delivered in a group setting. Digitization may then disrupt the existing social architecture, leaving its overall effect uncertain. Using a randomized experiment in the Philippines, I examine how the introduction of mobile banking in group microfinance affects savings behavior of existing clients and find that the average daily balance and frequency of deposits declined by 20% over two years.

Work in progress

Evaluating the impact of a digital agricultural advisory service (joint with Shawn Cole, Jessica Goldberg, and Jessica Zhu)

We designed a randomized controlled trial to evaluate the impact of a digital agricultural advisory service offered by a state government in India. We will recruit eligible households cultivating rice across 1,300 villages in 19 blocks using a random-walk method and randomly select half of the households to receive a free digital advisory service. We plan to measure the impact on yield using satellites and agricultural knowledge and adoption of recommended practices using surveys over two years.

Personality-based Nudges for Extension Agents (joint with Martin Abel, Michael Kremer, and Jessica Zhu)

This study examines how customizing motivational messages for volunteer agents by personality traits influences performance and motivation in the context of agricultural extension in Rwanda. We administered a phone survey with 10,187 village agricultural volunteers to gather personality traits using Susceptibility to Persuasion Scale (STPS) questions and designed four sets of SMS task reminders that appeal to four different STPS personality traits. We then randomly assigned volunteers to receive (i) no SMS messages, (ii) randomly assigned SMS messages, (iii) personality-matched messages, or (iv) personality-mismatched messages. In addition we cross-randomize whether FPs receive a reminder of the performance goals they set. We will compare self-reported performance and motivation among agents across experimental groups using a combination of phone survey data and administrative data. [Link to the AEA registry]

Credit for Climate Change: Promoting Asset-Collateralized Loans for Water Tanks (joint with Joshua Deutschmann and Michael Kremer)

Climate change induced rainfall and temperature variability pose a substantial economic risk to smallholder dairy farmers in developing countries. Rainwater harvesting tanks may help farmers adapt to climate uncertainty. Previous work has found that Asset Collateralized Loans (ACLs) help farmers purchase water tanks in Kenya (Jack et al, 2019). In this project, we are working with two dairy cooperatives in Rift Valley, Kenya, to evaluate the impact of ACLs for water tanks on milk production and climate adaptation outcomes. 


Fabregas R., Harigaya T., and Kremer, M. 2022. “Digital Agricultural Extension for Development”. In Development Engineering. Springer.

Harigaya T and Karlan D. 2014. “Chapter 5. Experimental Designs” in The Practical Guide to Impact Assessments of Microinsurance.” In The Practical Guide to Impact Assessments of Microinsurance. Microinsurance Network.

De Braw A and Harigaya T. 2007. “Seasonal Migration and Improving Living Standards in Vietnam.” American Journal of Agricultural Economics, 89, 2, Pp. 439-447.

Giné X, Harigaya T, Karlan D, and Nguyen B. 2006. Evaluating Microfinance Program Innovation with Randomized Controlled Trials: An Example from Group versus Individual Liability. Asian Development Bank Economics and Research Department Technical Note Series #16.