We will recruit around 350 to 400 children working in markets in Delhi to administer a two-part survey.
The first part, in which each child will be approached by a “mystery shopper” (a surveyor dressed like a regular shopper), aims to verify that these children can calculate the amount due and change for transactions that are normally made in these markets.
The second part of the survey, wherein the mystery shopper will administer informed consent, aims to assess whether these children can perform abstract arithmetic calculations and to test for potential explanations why this might not be the case. This part of the survey will include:
i. ASER test which aims to assess the child’s ability to perform abstract arithmetic operations (e.g., divisions with remainders and subtractions with carry-overs);
ii. Orally-administered questions of school-type mathematics as well as market-type mathematics, in order to determine whether children struggle with abstract math because they are unfamiliar with the notation or cannot think in abstract terms; and
iii. Market-contextual questions, in order to determine whether children’s familiarity with the goods, prices, and transactions at their shops help them use arithmetic in the market, but not in other situations.
It is also possible that children perform better in the first than in the second part of the survey because they have a clear incentive to get the market transactions correctly. Thus, we will randomly assign children to non-incentivized and incentivized versions of the second part of the survey. In the incentivized version, children will be offered a reward proportional to the number of correct answers in the second part of the survey.
Finally, we are also interested in placing the abilities of these children in context. Thus, we plan to draw two comparison samples. First, we will administer a version of the survey to 200 adults working in the same markets, following the same sampling protocol described above. Second, in Delhi, we will identify public schools in the districts where the markets are located and administer a version of the survey to 200 children attending these schools.