Wheels of Change: Transforming Girls' Lives with Bicycles

84 Pages Posted: 29 Jul 2022

See all articles by Nathan Fiala

Nathan Fiala

University of Connecticut

Ana Garcia-Hernandez

University of Connecticut

Kritika Narula

Analysis Group

Nishith Prakash

University of Connecticut; Institute for the Study of Labor

Date Written: 2022

Abstract

Reducing the gender gap in education is a primary goal for many countries. Some major challenges for many girls include the distance to school, their safety when commuting to school, lack of agency, and deep-rooted cultural norms. In Zambia, we studied the impact of providing a bicycle to a school-going girl who lives more than 3 km from the school. We randomized whether a girl received a bicycle with a small cost to her family to cover replacement parts, a bicycle where these costs are covered by the program, and therefore is zero cost to the family, or a control group. One year after the intervention, we find that the bicycle reduced average commuting time to school by 35%, reduced late arrival by 66%, and decreased absenteeism by 27%. We find continued improvement in girls’ attendance and reduction in dropouts two, three, and four years after the intervention. We also find evidence of improved math test scores, girls expressing higher feelings of control over their lives and, for those who received bicycles with a small cost to her family, higher levels of aspirations, self-image, and a desire to delay marriage and pregnancy. Heterogeneity analysis by distance to school shows an inverted U-shape for most of the schooling and empowerment results, suggesting greater impact for girls that live further away from school. These results suggest that empowerment outcomes worked through increased attendance in school.

Keywords: bicycles, commute time, girls’ education, female empowerment, safety, Zambia

JEL Classification: H420, I210, I250, J160, O150

Suggested Citation

Fiala, Nathan and Garcia-Hernandez, Ana and Narula, Kritika and Prakash, Nishith, Wheels of Change: Transforming Girls' Lives with Bicycles (2022). CESifo Working Paper No. 9865, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=4175822 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.4175822

Nathan Fiala (Contact Author)

University of Connecticut ( email )

Storrs, CT 06269-1063
United States

Ana Garcia-Hernandez

University of Connecticut ( email )

Storrs, CT 06269-1063
United States

Kritika Narula

Analysis Group ( email )

Los Angeles, CA 90071
United States

Nishith Prakash

University of Connecticut ( email )

365 Fairfield Way, U-1063
Storrs, CT 06269-1063
United States

HOME PAGE: http://https://sites.google.com/site/nishithprakash1978/

Institute for the Study of Labor ( email )

P.O. Box 7240
Bonn, D-53072
Germany

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