Driving Low-Income Mothers to Greater Success: The Impact of Ride-Hailing on Employment and Income

Last registered on May 26, 2022


Trial Information

General Information

Driving Low-Income Mothers to Greater Success: The Impact of Ride-Hailing on Employment and Income
Initial registration date
May 24, 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
May 26, 2022, 11:44 AM EDT

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


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Primary Investigator

Carnegie Mellon University

Other Primary Investigator(s)

PI Affiliation
Carnegie Mellon University
PI Affiliation
Carnegie Mellon University
PI Affiliation
Carnegie Mellon University

Additional Trial Information

On going
Start date
End date
Secondary IDs
Prior work
This trial does not extend or rely on any prior RCTs.
Transportation remains a significant barrier to employment for low-income populations, especially for female caregivers who do not have a car. This pre-analysis plan describes a field experiment that will provide a limited-duration car subsidy to approximately 900 low-income mothers in Allegheny County, Pennsylvania who do not have a car. Study participants will be randomly assigned to receive $200 worth of free Uber rides per month for either one month (control) or six months (treatment). Study outcomes include earnings and labor supply, measures of spatial mobility, and receipt of public benefits.
External Link(s)

Registration Citation

Branstetter, Lee et al. 2022. "Driving Low-Income Mothers to Greater Success: The Impact of Ride-Hailing on Employment and Income." AEA RCT Registry. May 26. https://doi.org/10.1257/rct.9411-1.0
Experimental Details


Study subjects will be randomly assigned to one of two conditions. In the treatment condition, subjects will be set up with an Uber account if they do not already have one. They will then be provided with $200 of Uber ride credits per month for six months, for a total of $1,200. Subjects will be asked to download a smartphone app that contains a transit trip planning tool, as well as a link to the Pennsylvania Career Link website, which contains information on career services and job search resources. This app will also collect geolocation data and administer the follow-up surveys. The career resources in the app will only be available for six months after enrollment. The app will automatically stop collecting geolocation data at this time as well.

The control condition has all the same components as the treatment, except that subjects will receive only $200 of Uber ride credits, all paid within the first month.

For both groups, ride credit balances cannot be carried over from one month to the next. Rides may be used for any purpose. The only restriction is that the subject herself must be present during the ride. She may not purchase a ride solely for someone else.
Intervention Start Date
Intervention End Date

Primary Outcomes

Primary Outcomes (end points)
Self-reported outcomes from surveys:

- Employment status in the past four weeks
- Number of weeks worked in the past four weeks
- Number of hours worked per week in the past four weeks
- Hourly wage in the past four weeks

Outcomes from administrative Pennsylvania unemployment insurance earnings records:

- Employment status in calendar quarter
- Total earnings in calendar quarter
- Total unemployment benefits in calendar quarter
Primary Outcomes (explanation)

Secondary Outcomes

Secondary Outcomes (end points)
Self-reported transportation outcomes:
- Total time spent commuting on days worked last week
- Total daily commuting expenditures on days worked last week
- Total transportation expenditures for the subject's entire family last week
- Mode of commuting during previous four weeks (e.g. walk, bike, bus, car, Uber)

Mobility outcomes measured from subject's mobile phone GPS data:

- Daily distance traveled - measured as the sum total of distance between two consecutive GPS location traces for a subject in a day
- Daily maximum distance from home - measured as the distance between home location and the farthest location visited by a subject in a day
- Daily radius of gyration - measured as the radius of all the locations visited (with the home location as the center) by a subject in a day
- Daily unique number of locations visited - measured as the total number of unique locations visited by a subject in a day
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)

Experimental Design

Experimental Design
The goal of this project is to test the impact of reduced transportation costs on labor market outcomes of a group of individuals who are likely to be particularly sensitive to transportation costs—families headed by women of limited means who do not have regular access to a car. Recruitment of low-income mothers in the Pittsburgh region will be facilitated by cooperation with Allegheny County Department of Human Services (DHS), which has a database on county residents that will help us identify eligible participants.

To be included in the study, subjects must meet the following criteria:

- Is female
- Is between 18 and 50 years old
- Has at least one child under age 18 who lives with them and for whom they are the child's parent or legal guardian
- Has a smartphone and is willing to download an app for the study
- Does not have regular access to a car
- Is a resident of Allegheny County, Pennsylvania

Subjects will enroll in the study via a website. They will first complete a screening survey to determine their eligibility. Eligible applicants will then provide informed consent, followed by randomization into treatment or control group. They will then receive the interventions as described above.
Experimental Design Details
Not available
Randomization Method
Randomization done in office by a computer
Randomization Unit
Was the treatment clustered?

Experiment Characteristics

Sample size: planned number of clusters
Not a clustered design
Sample size: planned number of observations
Target sample size is 900, with 450 in each study arm.
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
450 in treatment arm ($200 worth of rides for 6 months), and 450 in control arm ($200 worth of rides for 1 month)
Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)

Institutional Review Boards (IRBs)

IRB Name
Carnegie Mellon University Institutional Review Board
IRB Approval Date
IRB Approval Number