South Asia

  • Study of Self-employed Women's Association (SEWA) program in India


    Intervention settings: Rural

    Intervention description: Program provided health care, child care, banking and insurance services.

    Methodology: Cross-sectional comparisons of participants and non-participants, and participants' reports on how program changed their lives.

    Sample: Mothers and children who attended centers in two districts 10 years ago.

    Findings: 42%-53% of mothers report increased productivity, employment days and family savings.

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  • Enhancing Adolescent Financial Capabilities through Financial Education in Bangladesh

    Amin et al (2010)

    Intervention settings: Mixed

    Intervention description: Financial literacy.

    Methodology: RCT.

    Sample: 620 women (ages: 14-19 years old).

    Findings: Increased knowledge on savings and budgeting, but no significant changes with regard to knowledge of loan options. Significantly higher numbers reported savings on their own (versus relying on family members), keeping records of expenditure and preparing a budget.

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  • Profile of Adolescent Girls: Findings from the Baseline Survey for Social and Financial Empowerment of Adolescents (SoFEA) Programme

    Bhattacharjee and Das (2011)

    Original Abstract:

    This study provides baseline profile of the adolescents from both SoFEA intervention areas and adjacent areas. Adolescent girls from the intervention areas are divided into two groups: girls from new SoFEA intervention areas and girls from areas with SoFEA intervention on the existing ADP clubs (hereafter denoted as ADP-layered). The adolescents surveyed from new SoFEA and ADP-layered SoFEA are not necessarily all participating members of the programme, because the baseline surveywas conducted on the potential adolescents before club formation. Ultimately, some of them may not have participated in the SoFEA programme. The baseline survey conducted in January and February 2010 collected information on the adolescent girls socio-demographic profile, their level of awareness regarding health, social and legal issues, financial literacy, their perception of marriage, gender roles, their overall status in personal and family settings, as well as their parents perceptions of the girls on these issues. Data on enrollment status of the adolescents show that approximately two-thirds ofthe adolescent girls (from a total of 6,176 girls) were currently enrolled in school. Among all the girls who had ever attended school, more than half have completed or were currently studying in classes 6-9. The main cause of girls withdrawing from school was marriage. Engaging in household chores was another common reason for leaving school. For others, difficulty in bearing educational expenses was the impetus for discontinuing school. Baseline data showed that the proportion of girls receiving any kind of vocational or livelihood training is low for girls from the different sample clusters. The most common types of training taken by girls were tailoring, cooking, poultry rearing, and handicrafts. With respect to income generation, the data reveal that an insignificant proportion (4-8%) of the adolescents were engaged in income generating activities, but this proportion seemed to be highest (8%) among girls from the ADP-layered SoFEA clubs. Households socioeconomic status appeared to be a significant determinant of the girls involvement in the income generating activity (IGA), with the indication that girls from financially better-off families were less likely to be involved with IGAs and vice versa. Level of education, enrollment status, receiving vocational training, and having cash savings were also found to be important in determining the girls IGA-involvement. The SoFEA programme's initiative towards providing livelihood training is, therefore, expected to have a direct contribution in the form of increased IGA-involvement of the targeted adolescent girls.

    Intervention settings: Mixed.

    Intervention description: Life-skills training, livelihood training, financial literacy, savings and credit facilities and community sensitization.

    Methodology: RCT.

    Sample: 6,000 women.

    Findings: No significant impact on financial literacy or earnings.

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  • The Effect of a Livelihoods Intervention in an Urban Slum in India: Do Vocational Counseling and Training Alter the Attitudes and Behavior of Adolescent Girls?

    Mensch et al (2004)

    Original Abstract:

    This paper examines whether an experimental intervention for girls aged 14-19 that provided reproductive health information, vocational counseling and training, and assistance with opening savings accounts in slum areas of Allahabad in Uttar Pradesh, India had an effect on their attitudes and behaviors. A quasi-experimental pre- and posttest design was used in which adolescent girls aged 14-19 residing in the interventionarea slums were compared with girls of the same age residing in control-area slums. Although the livelihoods program was acceptable to parents and feasible to implement, the project had only a minimal impact on the behavior and attitudes of adolescent girls in the experimental slums. The greatest changes between the baseline and the endline surveys were found in those outcomes that most closely reflected the content of the intervention. Girls exposed to the intervention were significantly more likely to have knowledge of safe spaces, be a member of a group, score higher on the social skills index, be informed about reproductive health, and spend time on leisure activities than were the matched control respondents. No effect was found on gender-role attitudes, mobility, self-esteem, work expectations, or on number of hours visiting friends, performing domestic chores, or engaging in labor-market work.

    Intervention settings: Urban.

    Intervention description: Reproductive health education, vocational counseling and training, and assistance with opening savings accounts.

    Methodology: RCT.

    Sample: Young women aged 14-19.

    Findings: No effect on number of hours engaging in labor-market work or performing domestic chores. Women were significantly more likely to have knowledge of safe spaces and be a member of a group.

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  • Providing Microfinance and Social Space to Empower Adolescent Girls: An Evaluation of BRAC's ELA Centres

    Shahnaz (2008)

    Original Abstract:

    Lately there has been a surge in the variety of approaches to assist the adolescents, specially the girls, in building up their lives and livelihoods. With financial assistance from Nike Foundation, BRAC started combining financial and social interventions in 2005 by setting up ELA (Employment and Livelihood for Adolescents) Centres for the ELA microfinance group members. This study is intended to assess the usefulness of this combined approach. It is based on a panel dataset of ELA Centre participants and non-participants, which tried to capture changes using qualitative tools. Despite a number of methodological drawbacks, we found indication of the programme being useful in reducing the chances of early marriage, engaging the participants in economic activities, increasing their mobility and involvement in extracurricular reading. Qualitative exploration indicated much stronger effects than our survey estimates, which may have happened because of the participants' over-attribution of their status on their participation, which is biased by self-selection. On the other hand, there are some indications that the surveys failed to capture some changes due to methodological limitations. Nonetheless, it appears that girls at disadvantaged position in terms of education and parents' openness to girl's empowerment are less likely to participate in the programme. It points the need for targeting such girls. Moreover, the skill development training should include a generic module on financial literacy focusing on budgeting, financial management, insurance schemes etc. There is still scope of improvement in general awareness on health issues. The materials that are provided to the centre should include more health specific knowledge based issues.

    Intervention settings: Mixed.

    Intervention description: Reproductive health education and vocational skills training.

    Methodology: RCT.

    Sample: Young women 14-20 years old.

    Findings: 35% increase in income generation.

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  • Do Labor Market Opportunities Affect Young Women's Work and Family Decisions? Experimental Evidence from India

    Jensen (2012)

    Intervention settings: Rural.

    Intervention description: Recruiters from business process outsourcing industry held information and recruitment sessions in villages.

    Methodology: RCT.

    Sample: Young women.

    Findings: Young women from these villages were significantly less likely to ge married or have children. They were also more likely to enter the labor market or obtain more schooling or postschool training.

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  • Marketing Complex Financial Products in Emerging Markets: Evidence from Rainfall Insurance in India

    Gaurav, Cole and Tobacman (2011)

    Original Abstract:

    Recent financial liberalization in emerging economies has led to the rapid introduction of new financial products. Lack of experience with financial products, low levels of education, and low financial literacy may slow adoption of these products. This article reports on a field experiment that offered an innovative new financial product, rainfall insurance, to 600 small-scale farmers in India. A customized financial literacy and insurance education module communicating the need for personal financial management and the usefulness of formal hedging of agricultural production risks was offered to randomly selected farmers in Gujarat, India. The authors evaluate the effect of the financial literacy training and three marketing treatments using a randomized controlled trial. Financial education has a positive and significant effect on rainfall insurance adoption, increasing take-up from 8% to 16%. Only one marketing intervention, the money-back guarantee, has a consistent and large effect on farmers' purchase decisions. This guarantee, comparable to a price reduction of approximately 40%, increases demand by seven percentage points.

    Intervention settings: Rural: Gujarat.

    Intervention description: Farmers offered rainfall insurance, with some offered a money-back guarantee (equivalent to a 60% price discount). Half of the treatment group was also given financial literacy training in two three-hour sessions.

    Methodology: RCT.

    Sample: Small-scale land-owning farmers from rainfed villages in coastal districts; 2/3 of sample own less than 4 hectares of land. Gender included in model but gender-specific effects not reported.

    Findings: The training increased the take up by 8.1% (compared to a base take-up rate of 8%). The 60% price discount increases the base take-up rate by 6.9 percentage points.

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  • Microfinance and Poverty: Using Panel Data from Bangladesh

    Khandker (2005)

    Original Abstract:

    Microfinance supports mainly informal activities that often have a low return and low market demand. It may therefore be hypothesized that the aggregate poverty impact of microfinance is modest or even nonexistent. If true, the poverty impact of microfinance observed at the participant level represents either income redistribution or short-run income generation from the microfinance intervention. This article examines the effects of microfinance on poverty reduction at both the participant and the aggregate levels using panel data from Bangladesh. The results suggest that access to microfinance contributes to poverty reduction, especially for female participants, and to overall poverty reduction at the village level. Microfinance thus helps not only poor participants but also the local economy.

    Intervention settings: Rural.

    Intervention description: Group-liability credit for income-generation activity. Some loans for consumption and housing.

    Methodology: Ex-post evaluation with panel data of clients and non-clients.

    Sample: Mainly women; very poor and poor.

    Findings: Credit led to much higher poverty reduction among women clients' HHs than among men's. Slightly higher impact on HHs in exterme poverty, than those in moderate poverty. MF accounts for more than half of the 3% decline in poverty among clients. Female borrowing has a positive effect on HH food consumption (male borrowing has no effect).

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  • Do Women's Land Rights Promote Empowerment and Child Health in Nepal?

    Allendorf (2007)

    Original Abstract:

    Women's land rights are increasingly put forth as a means to promote development by empowering women and increasing productivity and welfare. However, little empirical research has evaluated these claims. I use the 2001 Nepal Demographic and Health Survey to explore whether women's land rights empower women and benefit young children's health. Regression models provide evidence that land rights empower women by increasing their control over household decision making. Regression models using nutritional indicators also support the hypothesis that women's land rights benefit children's health. Children of mothers who own land are significantly less likely to be severely underweight or stunted.

    Intervention settings:

    Intervention description: Land titling.

    Methodology: Logit models for empowerment measure and decision-making measure with 2001 DHS data.

    Sample: 4,884 women.

    Findings: Women who own land more likely to have final word in household decision-making. Inverse relationship between women's land rights and children's malnutrition, a relationship attributed primarily to the additional income and resources that women's ownership of land brings, rather than the empowering effect of land ownership.

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  • Selling Formal Insurance to the Informally Insured

    Mobarak and Rosezweig (2012)

    Original Abstract:

    Unpredictable rainfall is an important risk for agricultural activity, and farmers in developing countries often receive incomplete insurance from informal risk-sharing networks. We study the demand for, and effects of, offering formal index-based rainfall insurance through a randomized experiment in an environment where the informal risk sharing network can be readily identified and richly characterized: sub-castes in rural India. A model allowing for both idiosyncratic and aggregate risk shows that informal networks lower the demand for formal insurance only if the network indemnifies against aggregate risk, but not if its primary role is to insure against farmer-specific losses. When formal insurance carries basis risk (mismatches between payouts and actual losses due to the remote location of the rainfall gauge), informal risk sharing that covers idiosyncratic losses enhance the benefits of index insurance. Formal index insurance enables households to take more risk even in the presence of informal insurance. We find substantial empirical support of these nuanced predictions of the model by conducting the experiment (randomizing both index insurance offers, and the locations of rainfall gauges) on castes for whom we have a rich history of group responsiveness to household and aggregate rainfall shocks.

    Intervention settings: Rural: Andhra Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh and Tamil Nadu.

    Intervention description: Rainfall insurance offered to farmers at actuarially fair or discounted prices.

    Methodology: RCT.

    Sample: Cultivator HH from 42 villages randomly selected for a large previous rural survey. Gender of farmers not specified but assumed to include females.

    Findings: Take up rate very low (about 40% overall). However, additional follow-up data collected in Tamil Nadu indicate that households offered rainfall insurance at discounted prices tended to plant more higher yielding and less drought-resistant varieties.

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