Children often walk long distances to get to school in rural areas of developing countries, which contributes to high rates of absenteeism, particularly for girls. Can providing girls with bicycles to travel to school help address this problem? In rural Zambia, researchers partnered with World Bicycle Relief (WBR) to evaluate the impact of providing girls with bicycles to travel to school. The evaluation measured the impacts of the program on girls’ educational attainment and empowerment outcomes. Girls were eligible for the program if they were in 5th, 6th, or 7th grade and walked at least three kilometers to school.
Besides generating negative environmental externalities, a household’s water consumption entails another “market failure”: household members free-ride off each other and overconsume. This problem stems from the difficulty of attributing usage to specific individuals. We document the importance of this phenomenon in urban Zambia by combining utility billing records and randomized person-specific price variation. We derive and empirically confirm the following prediction: Individuals with weaker incentives to conserve under the household’s financial arrangements reduce water use more when their person-specific price rises. Our results offer a novel explanation for the low price sensitivity of residential water (and electricity) consumption.
In Zambia, we have continued our global tradition of rigorous, applicable research by building foundational research capacity and conducting evaluations in areas of pressing national concern. Examples of our research below offer promising insights into everyday issues that affect the lives of the Zambian poor.
We embed a field experiment in a nationwide recruitment drive for nurses in Zambia to test whether career benefits attract talent at the expense of prosocial motivation. We randomize the offer of career benefits at the recruitment stage. In line with common wisdom, treatment attracts less prosocial applicants. However, the trade-off only exists at low levels of talent; the marginal applicants in treatment are more talented and equally pro-social. These are hired, and they perform better at every step of the chain: they deliver more services, promote institutional childbirth, and reduce child malnutrition by 25% in the communities they serve.
In Zambia, 40% of children under the age of five are stunted. Addressing stunting in children requires continuous efforts by caregivers; if caregivers are unaware of their child’s growth faltering, increased attention to child nutrition in the household seems unlikely. In 2015, we conducted a cluster- randomized trial to test a pair of interventions designed to provide caregivers with information on their children’s physical growth. This report describes a qualitative follow-up study with participants of that trial. The aim of the follow-up study was to learn about parents’ perceptions of the original interventions and to understand the general views of parents on early child physical growth. The learnings generated by this follow-up study will be used to refine the design of the interventions and will also shed light on challenges in addressing child growth in Zambia more generally.