This embedded lab-in-the-field study explores the psychosocial mechanisms of motivating women’s engagement in economic development activities in Niger. It is embedded within a larger study of the Niger Adaptive Safety Net Program (ASP) offering small, regular cash transfers and a set of productive accompanying measures to low-income households. The package of productive accompanying measures include several components (described in details here: https://www.socialscienceregistry.org/trials/2544), which are being evaluated as part of a multi-country study. Beneficiaries are organized in a group as they participate in most of these components, for instance for training in business skills or life skills and for savings. For this study, we focus on a subsample of female participants in villages where beneficiaries were offered psycho-social interventions. Individuals were eligible for participation in the ASP program on the basis of a Proxy Means Targeting (PMT) score and other methods seeking to identify poor and vulnerable households (selection process detailed here: http://documents.worldbank.org/curated/en/387791524060631076/pdf/WPS8412.pdf). 85% of ASP beneficiaries were found to fall below Niger’s national poverty line.
Among other components, ASP beneficiaries participate a community-wide sensitization session, consisting of a 20-minute film and subsequent discussion, and twelve sessions of business and life skills trainings. This lab-in-the-field embedded study takes place between the sensitization session and the business and life skills trainings. It links to both of these components in that the study compares the effects of particular features of the film shown in the sensitization session, and a behavioral outcome of the study is the rate of participation in the business and life skills trainings.
The film shown in the sensitization session is developed for the rural, predominantly Muslim ASP program population in Niger. It depicts the journey of a role model, an entrepreneurial woman named Amina, who works and negotiates with her family to start her own business and, in this process, shares her knowledge and example with her community and her children. The film is a launching point for a wider community discussion on adaptations to business practices and to the roles of men and women in the face of a changing climate. One to two months after the sensitization, female beneficiaries participate in group-based trainings on business and life skills that are intended to give them the business knowledge and psychosocial skills to create, build, or expand their economic activities and to achieve greater income-generating capacity.
This embedded lab-in-the-field study is conducted in the weeks between the sensitization session and the business and life skills trainings with a subsample of female participants in six communes of Niger. It tests the motivational effects of two different types of role models by making salient different elements of Amina’s story. The first presents Amina as a woman who takes “personal initiative” by being proactive, strategic, and innovative in her pursuit to build her business. The second presents Amina as a woman who takes “interpersonal initiative” by collaborating with her family and teaching others new skills in the course of building her business. We assess how these two narratives and accompanying reflection exercises (i.e. “salience interventions”, further described below) affect economic engagement behaviors, economic decision making, self-construals, and interpersonal processes.
We conduct the study in 33 villages receiving the psychosocial interventions as part of the ASP program in six communes. Our study includes 2,628 beneficiaries in these villages. First, groups of beneficiaries are randomized to have a saturation level of 25, 50, or 75 percent of the group treated. Thus, 1,332 participants are randomized to the treatment (a psychosocial intervention in a lab-in-the-field session) and 1,296 to the non-treated control group. These business and life skills training groups have between 11 to 33 participants, with an average of 25.
Within each group, individuals assigned to treatment are then randomly assigned to either one of the two brief psychosocial “salience” interventions (“personal initiative” or “interpersonal initiative”), delivered in the lab-in-the-field session. These randomizations are stratified by timing of the ASP training activities (Early: February-March / Late: April), the ASP treatment arm (Complete: all components / Social: all components except cash transfer), and participation in a prior ASP baseline survey (Y/N).