Does Relationship Counselling, Reduce Gender Inequality? Evidence from a Randomized Control Trial in India

Last registered on May 19, 2023


Trial Information

General Information

Does Relationship Counselling, Reduce Gender Inequality? Evidence from a Randomized Control Trial in India
Initial registration date
December 03, 2022

Initial registration date is when the trial was registered.

It corresponds to when the registration was submitted to the Registry to be reviewed for publication.

First published
December 13, 2022, 10:18 PM EST

First published corresponds to when the trial was first made public on the Registry after being reviewed.

Last updated
May 19, 2023, 2:37 PM EDT

Last updated is the most recent time when changes to the trial's registration were published.


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Primary Investigator

Department of Economic Sciences, Indian Institute of Technology Kanpur

Other Primary Investigator(s)

PI Affiliation
Department of Economic Sciences, Indian Institute of Technology Kanpur
PI Affiliation
Department of Economics College of Business University of Texas at Arlington
PI Affiliation
University of Utah

Additional Trial Information

On going
Start date
End date
Secondary IDs
Prior work
This trial does not extend or rely on any prior RCTs.
Rigid gender norms of home production and caregiving have deterred female labor force participation (FLFP) and women’s economic autonomy and are major causes of intimate partner violence and mental health issues, especially among women and girls. Women’s social and economic exclusion is a global problem with drastic repercussions evident in developing economies, especially in India, where since 2005, FLFP is on a steady decline and indicators of gender inequality are higher than in comparable economies. In this context, this study using a randomized control trial will attempt to examine if providing relationship counseling to couples on gender equality, stereotype, discrimination, trust, and cooperation could reduce gender inequality in labor force participation and unpaid work, affect social and economic decision-making by men and women, and improve overall household welfare. In addition, we seek to examine if relationship counseling could improve the self-efficacy and self-esteem of women and children in the household. The treatment is divided into two arms, first, we examine the impact of informational relationship counseling, and in the second arm, in addition to the relationship counseling, couples will carry out activities and play games, related to social and economic issues around gender, with community members in order to assess if ‘learning by doing' has an additional effect on the outcomes of interest. The study will draw the attention of policymakers to the relative lack of relationship counseling in developing economies and potentially highlight its significance.
External Link(s)

Registration Citation

Pakrashi, Debayan et al. 2023. "Does Relationship Counselling, Reduce Gender Inequality? Evidence from a Randomized Control Trial in India." AEA RCT Registry. May 19.
Sponsors & Partners

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Experimental Details


The design of the experiment will be as follows:
The experiment design involves two treatment arms, each comprising four sessions that will last for about 50-60 minutes each.
Treatment 1 will be provided to 300 randomly selected couples and will include providing informative counseling to couples on four broad issues – gender equality, gender discrimination, gender stereotypes, and the importance of trust, cooperation, and respect in marital relationships. The sessions will include explaining gender-related concepts, watching short videos/films on social norms and women’s autonomy, and discussing the keys to successful and happy marriages. The counseling modules are prepared jointly by the principal investigators and a team of professional experts.
Further, another 300 randomly selected couples will be provided Treatment 2 in addition to Treatment 1. The second treatment will involve activities and games designed around the same four broad issues mentioned above. The underlying difference between the two treatments is that the former captures learning via one-to-one information/discussion sessions whereas the latter captures learning by doing in addition to learning by learning.
Finally, the control group will include the remaining 300 couples who will not receive any treatment
Intervention Start Date
Intervention End Date

Primary Outcomes

Primary Outcomes (end points)
1. Time-use outcomes:
Total time spent in minutes per day on paid work/employment, unpaid care work, domestic chores, leisure, self-care, socializing, learning, seeking employment, and acquiring vocational skills.
2. Sharing of care work:
Does anyone else help with household work? Who all? (specify), Do you have a domestic maid (Y/N)? Did you hire an external caregiver in the last week etc?
3. Marital Relationship
3.1 Do you spend quality time with your spouse? what activities do you engage in/how do you spend quality time? How many hours in a week?
3.2 Do you discuss matters with your partner (like things that happen at work / on the farm; what you feel or have in your mind; your health-related issues (physical, psychological-emotional); about your ambitions/dreams; about things that happen in the community such as elections or politics etc. )
3.3 How well do you know your partner game? Ask questions about your partner's favorite food, music, pass time, actor/actress; ambition in life, name of a best friend etc.
3.4 Satisfaction with relationship (0-10 scale)
4. Women- empowerment (including women's mobility, decision-making, freedom from violence etc.)
5. Gender norms around gender roles and societal expectations
6. Experimental games to capture resource sharing, trust, cooperation, altruism, etc.
Primary Outcomes (explanation)

Secondary Outcomes

Secondary Outcomes (end points)
1. Economic
1.1 Employment (total employment, self-employment, wage employment)
1.2 Intensity of Employment (Days in a year, Hours per day)
1.3 Earnings from employment (INR per month/annual)
1.4 Household consumption expenditure (clothing, food, health, festivals, alcohol, tobacco etc.)
1.5 Household income (INR per month/annual)
1.6 Days unable to go to work? (Days in the last month)
2. Health and well-being of couples (physical and mental health, life satisfaction, happiness, hopes, aspirations, confidence in life etc.).
3. Intergenerational/ children’s outcome (spillover effects): Child’s psycho-social welfare in terms of self-efficacy, self-esteem, parent relations, peer relations, subjective well-being etc.

Secondary Outcomes (explanation)

Experimental Design

Experimental Design
Methods and Procedures: The main estimating equation will be:
𝑦𝑖𝑗 = 𝛼 + 𝛽1𝑇𝑖1 + 𝛽2𝑇𝑖2 + 𝛾𝑋𝑖𝑗 + 𝜖𝑖𝑗
where 𝑦𝑖𝑗 is an outcome of individual i who lives in region j. This outcome variable can be any of
the outcome variables of interest. The dummy variable 𝑇𝑖1( 𝑜𝑟 𝑇𝑖2)
takes the value of one if the individual is assigned randomly the first couple counselling treatment
(or couple counselling+game participation treatment), and zero otherwise. 𝑋𝑖𝑗 will capture other
household and demographic characteristics that may also affect women’s autonomy and child
psycho-social welfare. The control variables may include age, religion, caste, educational
attainment, baseline employment status of the married women as well as education and
employment status of the father or household head, household structure (nuclear or joint), wealth
index, household composition, and type of roof, floor, walls, drinking water facilities (variables
that affect child health and education). In the child-specific regressions, we will also add the age,
gender and birth order of the child. Wherever available, we will also control for the baseline
value of the outcome variables on the right-hand side. The term 𝜖 is the error term. All regressions
will be clustered at the regional level. We shall also look into multiple hypothesis testing, attrition
bias, social desirability bias, and recall bias.
Experimental Design Details
Not available
Randomization Method
Randomization will be done on a computer using STATA.
Randomization Unit
At the village or region level.
Was the treatment clustered?

Experiment Characteristics

Sample size: planned number of clusters
90 clusters
Sample size: planned number of observations
1800 individuals/ 900 couples
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
Treatment arm 1: 300 couples
Treatment arm 2: 300 couples
Control group: 300 couples
Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)

Institutional Review Boards (IRBs)

IRB Name
Indian Institute of Technology Kanpur
IRB Approval Date
IRB Approval Number