Human Capital, Financial Capital, and the Economic Empowerment of Female Adolescents in Uganda
Last registered on September 12, 2018

Pre-Trial

Trial Information
General Information
Title
Human Capital, Financial Capital, and the Economic Empowerment of Female Adolescents in Uganda
RCT ID
AEARCTR-0001558
Initial registration date
September 12, 2018
Last updated
September 12, 2018 12:40 PM EDT
Location(s)
Region
Primary Investigator
Affiliation
University College London (UCL)
Other Primary Investigator(s)
PI Affiliation
London School of Economics
PI Affiliation
London School of Economics
Additional Trial Information
Status
Completed
Start date
2008-03-01
End date
2010-06-30
Secondary IDs
Abstract
Women in developing countries are disempowered relative to their contemporaries in developed countries. High youth unemployment and early marriage and childbearing interact to limit human capital investment and enforce dependence on men. In this paper researchers evaluate an attempt to jump-start adolescent women’s empowerment in the world’s second youngest country: Uganda. In this two-pronged intervention, adolescent girls are simultaneously provided vocational training and information on sex, reproduction, and marriage. Relative to adolescents in control communities, after two years the intervention raises the likelihood that girls engage in income generating activities by 72% (mainly driven by increased participation in self-employment), and raises their monthly consumption expenditures by 41%. Teen pregnancy falls by 26%, and early entry into marriage/cohabitation falls by 58%. Strikingly, the share of girls reporting sex against their will drops from 14% to almost half that level and preferred ages of marriage and childbearing both move forward. The findings indicate that women’s economic and social empowerment can be jump-started through the combined provision of vocational and life skills, and is not necessarily held back by insurmountable constraints arising from binding social norms.
External Link(s)
Registration Citation
Citation
Bandeira, Oriana, Robin Burgess and Imran Rasul. 2018. "Human Capital, Financial Capital, and the Economic Empowerment of Female Adolescents in Uganda." AEA RCT Registry. September 12. https://www.socialscienceregistry.org/trials/1558/history/34194
Experimental Details
Interventions
Intervention(s)
In partnership with BRAC Uganda, researchers examined the impact of a combination of life skills and vocational training on female youth' s health knowledge, risky behaviors, and engagement in income-generating activities. From a sample of 150 communities served by one of 10 existing BRAC branches, researchers randomly selected 10 communities in each branch to receive the Empowerment and Livelihood for Adolescents Program (ELA) in 2008, while five communities in each branch served as a comparison group.

ELA provided female youth aged 14-20 with life skills and vocational training at adolescent development clubs that were open five afternoons per week so that both girls in school and out of school could attend. Each club had a mentor, a young woman slightly older than the club members, who led club activities. Mentors were selected by local BRAC staff and are paid a small lump-sum for their work.

The clubs' life skills training covered sexual and reproductive health, menstruation, pregnancy, sexually transmitted infections, HIV/AIDS awareness, family planning, and rape. Other topics included management skills, negotiation and conflict resolution, leadership, and legal knowledge on women' s issues such as bride price, child marriage, and violence against women. Vocational skills training was also provided, and focused on helping adolescent girls establish their own small enterprises. It offered a series of courses on hair-dressing, tailoring, computing, agriculture, poultry rearing, and small trades operation. The clubs also hosted popular recreational activities such as reading, staging dramas, singing, dancing and playing games, and served as a space in which adolescent girls could meet, socialize, and privately discuss issues of concern.
Intervention Start Date
2008-10-01
Intervention End Date
2010-06-30
Primary Outcomes
Primary Outcomes (end points)
ECONOMIC EMPOWERMENT: gender empowerment index; entrepreneurial ability index; income generation (engagement in IGA, self-employment, wage employment); welfare (satisfaction with earnings/income; never worry to get a good job in adulthood; expenditure on goods in the last month); education (current school enrollment status, hours spent on going to and attending school, homework, and study per week, plans to go back to school if dropped out).

CONTROL OVER BODY: childbearing and marriage (whether a woman has a child, is married or cohabitating); sexual violence (whether a woman had sex unwillingly in the past year); knowledge (pregnancy and HIV); contraception (usage of condoms and other contraceptives).

ASPIRATIONS RELATED TO MARRIAGE AND CHILD BEARING: marriage (suitable age for marriage for a woman and a man); child bearing (preferred number of children, suitable age for women to have the first baby); children’s marriage (preferred age at which daughter(s) and son(s) get married).
Primary Outcomes (explanation)
Secondary Outcomes
Secondary Outcomes (end points)
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)
Experimental Design
Experimental Design
Researchers evaluate the Empowerment and Livelihood for Adolescents (ELA)
program using a randomized control trial. BRAC has established branch offices throughout Uganda, ten of which were chosen for the evaluation. Five of these branches are located in the urban or semi-urban regions of Kampala and Mukono; the other branches are located in the mostly rural region around Iganga and Jinja. In each branch, fifteen communities with the potential to host an ELA club were identified. From this list, ten locations within each branch office were randomly assigned to receive the treatment, i.e., to set up a club and deliver the ELA program, with the remaining five locations randomly assigned as controls. In each treatment community, a single club was opened up. Hence, the research design delivers 100 treatment and 50 control communities, stratified by branch office.

The practicalities of program implementation led to possible non-compliance with the research design: an adolescent girl resident in a control community wishing to attend a club in a treated community is always able to do so. However, in practice the number of participants from control communities is negligible, and such non-compliance biases the estimated impact towards zero. Of course in treated communities, as club participation is voluntary, not all eligible girls will comply with the design and decide to take-up the offer of receiving the ELA program. Therefore, researchers estimate both ITT and TOT impacts.

The primary data sources are a baseline survey administered to adolescent girls conducted at baseline, and a follow-up survey two years after the ELA program is initiated. Baseline interviews were conducted from March to June 2008. The vast majority of ELA clubs were established between June and September 2008, and the follow-up survey was fielded from March to June 2010. The questionnaire covers topics including: (i) those directly related to the vocational skills component, such as financial literacy, analytical ability, labor market and income generating activities; (ii) those related directly to the life skills component, such as engagement in sex, childbearing and marriage/cohabitation, HIV related knowledge; (iii) other margins such as educational investments, time use, expenditures, and further measures of economic and social empowerment.

In total, at baseline 5,966 adolescents were surveyed: 3,964 reside in treatment communities, and 2,002 girls in controls, with an average of 39.9 (39.7) girls being surveyed in each rural (urban) community. Despite the high degree of geographic mobility of girls in Uganda in this age range, 4,888 adolescents were tracked to follow-up, corresponding to a two-year tracking-rate of 82%. This is comparable to tracking rates from studies in similar contexts. While residing in a treatment community does not predict attrition, researchers present robustness checks on our core findings that account for attrition.

Researchers first estimate the intent-to-treat (ITT) impact of the ELA program using OLS, controlling for adolescent’s age at baseline, a series of indicator variables for branch areas as we stratify the sample of communities by branch before randomly assigning them to treatment or control status. The disturbance term is clustered by community as there are likely to be common unobserved factors within communities that determine outcomes.

Because some outcomes are related to dichotomous or censored outcomes, researchers also report ITT estimates based on non-linear Probit and Tobit specifications analogous to the OLS specification. Given that club participation is not universal, the ITT underestimates the impact of the program on actual club participants. Therefore, researchers also present estimates of the treatment-on-the-treated (TOT) effect of the program following a standard approach of instrumenting individual club participation with the community treatment dummy (i.e., treatment offer). The impacts are computed using a standard two-stage least squares procedure and, therefore, all coefficients are computed using a linear probability model in the first stage. In the first stage, researchers regress a dummy variable for participation on the treatment dummy, branch fixed effects and individual baseline characteristics. Under the assumption that treatment assignment has no spillover impacts on non-participants, the IV estimate produces the local average treatment effect (LATE) on those that are induced to participate in the presence of a club in their community.

Researchers assess program impact on economic empowerment, as reflected in business skills and income generating activities, and control over the body, as reflected in, childbearing, marriage, and sex and on aspirations on childbearing and marriage. They also document program fixed and variable costs to benchmark how large the per-girl benefits would have to be for the intervention to be effective for a social planner. Researchers assess ITT anticipation impacts of future assignment to microfinance. To check the robustness of the results to panel attrition, researchers re-estimate each ITT impact using weights, where these weights are constructed from the inverse of the estimated probability of panel inclusion. They also check for whether particular subsamples of the data are driving the main impacts on economic and social empowerment. They check for heterogeneous impacts among outcomes related to current investments in schooling and explore impact heterogeneity along the following dimensions: (i) rural versus urban households; (ii) rich versus poor households, as defined by whether the household’s asset values at baseline are above or below the median for all households; (iii) girls aged above 16 at baseline versus older girls at baseline.
Experimental Design Details
Randomization Method
Computer
Randomization Unit
Community
Was the treatment clustered?
Yes
Experiment Characteristics
Sample size: planned number of clusters
150 communities
Sample size: planned number of observations
NA; clustered randomization
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
100 treatment communities; 50 control communities
Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)
IRB
INSTITUTIONAL REVIEW BOARDS (IRBs)
IRB Name
IRB Approval Date
IRB Approval Number
Post-Trial
Post Trial Information
Study Withdrawal
Intervention
Is the intervention completed?
Yes
Intervention Completion Date
June 30, 2010, 12:00 AM +00:00
Is data collection complete?
Yes
Data Collection Completion Date
June 30, 2010, 12:00 AM +00:00
Final Sample Size: Number of Clusters (Unit of Randomization)
150 communities
Was attrition correlated with treatment status?
No
Final Sample Size: Total Number of Observations
4,888 girls/young women
Final Sample Size (or Number of Clusters) by Treatment Arms
100 treatment communities; 50 control communities
Data Publication
Data Publication
Is public data available?
No
Program Files
Program Files
No
Reports and Papers
Preliminary Reports
Relevant Papers
Abstract
Almost one third of the population in developing countries is under age 15. Hence improving the effectiveness of policy interventions that target adolescents might be especially important. Researchers analyze the intention to participate in training programs of adolescent girls in Uganda, a country with perhaps the most skewed age distribution anywhere in the world. The training program researchers focus on is BRAC’s Adolescent Development Program, which emphasizes the provision of life skills and entrepreneurship training, and microfinance. Researchers find that girls who are more likely to benefit from the program are more likely to intend to participate. The program also attracts girls who are likely to place a high value on financial independence: single mothers and girls that are alienated from their families. The program attracts girls who are more likely to benefit from training: girls who believe they could be successful entrepreneurs but currently lack the quantitative skills to do so. Reassuringly, girls that are in school full-time are less likely to intend to participate. Researchers also find that the program attracts girls from poorer villages but they find no evidence that poorer girls within each village are more likely to want to participate. Finally, girls from villages that have previously been exposed to NGO projects are less likely to intend to participate. The results have implications for the design, management, and evaluation of similar programs throughout East Africa.
Citation
Bandiera, Oriana, Robin Burgess, Markus Goldstein, Selim Gulesci, Imran Rasul, and Munshi Sulaiman. 2010. "Intentions to Participate in Adolescent Training Programs: Evidence from Uganda." Journal of European Economic Association 8(2-3): 549-60.
Abstract
Women in developing countries are disempowered relative to their contemporaries in developed countries. High youth unemployment and early marriage and childbearing interact to limit human capital investment and enforce dependence on men. In this paper researchers evaluate an attempt to jump-start adolescent women’s empowerment in the world’s second youngest country: Uganda. In this two-pronged intervention, adolescent girls are simultaneously provided vocational training and information on sex, reproduction, and marriage. Relative to adolescents in control communities, after two years the intervention raises the likelihood that girls engage in income generating activities by 72% (mainly driven by increased participation in self-employment), and raises their monthly consumption expenditures by 41%. Teen pregnancy falls by 26%, and early entry into marriage/cohabitation falls by 58%. Strikingly, the share of girls reporting sex against their will drops from 14% to almost half that level and preferred ages of marriage and childbearing both move forward. The findings indicate that women’s economic and social empowerment can be jump-started through the combined provision of vocational and life skills, and is not necessarily held back by insurmountable constraints arising from binding social norms.
Citation
Bandiera, Oriana, Niklas Buehren, Robin Burgess, Markus Goldstein, Selim Gulesci, Imran Rasul and Munshi Sulaiman. "Women' s Empowerment in Action: Evidence from a Randomized Control Trial in Africa." Working Paper, June 2015