UBS-Optimus Foundation

Professor Prakash Studies the Impact of Bicycles on Female Education and Empowerment in Zambia

Professor Nishith Prakash’s project, ‘Wheels of Change: Impact of Cycles on Female Education and Empowerment in Zambia’, has received generous funding from UBS-Optimus Foundation and World Bicycle Relief and will be in joint collaboration with Innovations for Poverty Action (IPA) at Yale University:

Many countries worldwide have made significant progress towards gender equality in education, labor force participation, and political representation in recent decades. However, in many developing and less developed countries, there also exist discriminatory social norms that favor early marriage and limit girl’s access to education and labor force participation. Therefore, it is not surprising that reducing gender disparity in primary, secondary and tertiary education has been one of the most important goals for international education policy over the past decade, and has been enshrined as one of the United Nation’s Millennium Development Goals (MDG’s).

In this experimental study we aim to study the impact of providing cycles to girls in grade 7 and 8 on education and empowerment. The aim of this evaluation is to estimate the impact of World Bicycle Relief’s BEEP program in Zambia, which provides access to cycles to students who live far from schools in their communities. The study proposes to rigorously test the impact of cycle distribution on education outcomes as well as outcomes pertaining to girls’ empowerment and their bargaining position in the households.

This study will build on the previous study by Muralidharan and Prakash (2016) by testing if increased school access through cycles could create an enabling environment for girls to negotiate better health outcomes in addition to education outcomes. The study proposes to test the following hypotheses:

1)  What is the impact of providing cycles to adolescent girls on education outcomes such as attendance, drop outs and examination scores?

2)  What is the impact of providing cycles to adolescent girls on pregnancy, marriage, fertility, mobility, bargaining power, and empowerment?