Hold the Phone? Social and Economic Implications of Improving Women's Agency and Control over Smartphones

Last registered on May 15, 2020

Pre-Trial

Trial Information

General Information

Title
Hold the Phone? Social and Economic Implications of Improving Women's Agency and Control over Smartphones
RCT ID
AEARCTR-0005855
Initial registration date
May 14, 2020
Last updated
May 15, 2020, 2:53 PM EDT

Locations

Region

Primary Investigator

Affiliation
University of Southern California

Other Primary Investigator(s)

PI Affiliation
Yale University
PI Affiliation
Harvard University
PI Affiliation
Yale University
PI Affiliation
Duke University
PI Affiliation
University of Warwick

Additional Trial Information

Status
On going
Start date
2018-08-01
End date
2020-12-31
Secondary IDs
Abstract
In 2018, the Indian state of Chhattisgarh distributed over 2 million smartphones to female heads of household. We build a randomized control trial on this phone distribution program to examine multiple research questions focused on gender gaps in technology use, the economic and social impacts of technology adoption, and norms related to women’s phone use. The RCT leverages three interventions to address the barriers to smartphone use that women face. The first is a basic digital training, designed to build skills women need to engage with phones. The second, a service titled Mor Awaaz, deploys a phone-based use case that is in line with the prevailing norm that women should care for the household. Women enrolled in the service receive weekly phone calls with entertaining, pre-recorded information on good health and nutrition practices and government social assistance programs. Once a month, we survey women on these topics. Additional treatment arms randomize the number of enrollees within villages to understand the role of peers in phone engagement and payment of in-kind incentives to individual enrollees to understand the value of amplifying the economic returns to phone use.
External Link(s)

Registration Citation

Citation
Barboni, Giorgia et al. 2020. "Hold the Phone? Social and Economic Implications of Improving Women's Agency and Control over Smartphones." AEA RCT Registry. May 15. https://doi.org/10.1257/rct.5855-1.0
Experimental Details

Interventions

Intervention(s)
1. Mobile phone training: Every woman who attended a camp was offered a basic digital literacy training. The training covered dialing a number, receiving an incoming call, taking photos, and using Google’s voice search feature. Women were trained in groups of 8-10.

2. Mor Awaaz: This is a phone service for women designed by the research team. It offers a use case that is in line with the prevailing norm that women should care for the household. Mor Awaaz sends women weekly push calls with pre-recorded information on good health practices, government health services, and updates on India’s workfare program. The service also includes monthly “pull calls”, where trained enumerators call women to conduct a short survey to measure women's phone usage and their awareness of, and access to, public health and nutrition-linked services.

3. Incentives: Incentives are linked to pull calls. Women earn INR 100 credit towards in-kind incentives for each pull call they complete. This credit can be redeemed for common consumables such as tea, lentils, and cooking oil.

4. High Saturation: Villages were randomly assigned to receive either a "high" or "low" saturation version of Mor Awaaz. In low saturation villages only 36 women per villages were eligible to enroll in the service. In high saturation villages the vast majority of women in the village were invited to enroll.
Intervention Start Date
2019-07-30
Intervention End Date
2020-11-30

Primary Outcomes

Primary Outcomes (end points)
Our analysis will focus on the following family of primary outcomes.

1. Women's Phone Ownership and Use: Here we will rely on both self-reported measures (ownership, frequency and types of use) as well as objective measures (direct pick up on supplementary calls, participation in supplementary calls). We will also use administrative data from Mor Awaaz to study impacts of saturation and incentives among Mor Awaaz enrollees.
Primary Outcomes (explanation)
When we collect multiple outcomes per family we will aggregate them into a standardized index to address concerns regarding multiple hypothesis testing.

Secondary Outcomes

Secondary Outcomes (end points)
Our analysis will focus on the following families of secondary outcomes.

1. Gender Norms and Attitudes: Here we will consider impacts on several sub-families of gender outcomes including actual and perceived norms governing women's phone use and broader norms about women's role in society. We will analyze impacts on norms and beliefs held by women and their husbands separately.

2. Mental Health and Well Being: We will study impacts on measures of anxiety and depression (K6 index) and a woman's sense of self worth.

3. Empowerment: The measure of empowerment most directly related to our intervention is a woman's ability to use a phone independently, without family interference. We will also study impacts on downstream measures of women's empowerment, including mobility, economic activity, and self-reported decision making power.

4. Social Connections and Networks: We will measure the number of social contacts a woman has, how often she interacts with them, and whether these interactions are by phone or in person. We will also measure participation in women's self help groups.

5. Economic Activity: We will measure women's labor force participation and engagement in income generating activities.
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)
When we collect multiple outcomes per family we will aggregate them into a standardized index to address concerns regarding multiple hypothesis testing.

Experimental Design

Experimental Design
First we randomized 212 villages into three groups: control (32 villages); low saturation (90 villages); high saturation (90 villages).

Then at the individual level within high and low saturation villages we randomly assign 12 "core sample" women to receive an offer of phone training only; 18 to receive an offer of training and Mor Awaaz; and 18 to receive an offer to training, Mor Awaaz, and incentives. In high saturation villages all "non-core" women eligible for a government phone distribution program were also invited to receive training and Mor Awaaz.
Experimental Design Details
Randomization Method
Randomization was conducted in office using Stata.
Randomization Unit
The control/high saturation/low saturation randomization is clustered at the village level.

Randomization to training only, training + Mor Awaaz, training + Mor Awaaz + incentives is conducted at the individual level.
Was the treatment clustered?
Yes

Experiment Characteristics

Sample size: planned number of clusters
212 clusters
Sample size: planned number of observations
1,696 core sample women participated in the baseline survey (8 women in 212 villages). We also interviewed their husband. At endline, we will enroll another 1,696 women and their husbands.
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
First we randomized 212 villages into three groups: control (32 villages); low saturation (90 villages); high saturation (90 villages).

Then at the individual level within high and low saturation villages we randomly assign 12 "core sample" women to receive an offer of phone training only; 18 to receive an offer of training and Mor Awaaz; and 18 to receive an offer to training, Mor Awaaz, and incentives. In high saturation villages all "non-core" women eligible for the government phone distribution were also invited to receive training and Mor Awaaz.
Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)
IRB

Institutional Review Boards (IRBs)

IRB Name
IFMR
IRB Approval Date
2018-08-13
IRB Approval Number
NA
IRB Name
Yale University
IRB Approval Date
2019-07-15
IRB Approval Number
2000025938
IRB Name
Harvard University
IRB Approval Date
2018-08-17
IRB Approval Number
IRB17-0987
Analysis Plan

Analysis Plan Documents

Pre-Analysis Plan: Hold the Phone? Social and Economic Implications of Improving Women's Agency and Control over Smartphones

MD5: 40b3bdc00868ef6d6182a3dee8b247c3

SHA1: 182752f862e83690a79841d74d7988520ab1ed2c

Uploaded At: May 14, 2020

Post-Trial

Post Trial Information

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Intervention

Is the intervention completed?
No
Data Collection Complete
Data Publication

Data Publication

Is public data available?
No

Program Files

Program Files
Reports, Papers & Other Materials

Relevant Paper(s)

Reports & Other Materials