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Current Projects

Abstract: Reducing the gender gap in education is a primary goal for many countries. Two major challenges for many girls is the distance to school and their safety when commuting. We study 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 receives a bicycle with a small cost to her family to cover replacement parts, a bicycle where these costs are covered by the program and so is zero cost to the family, or a control group. We find that the bicycle reduced average commuting time to school by 35%, late arrival by 66%, and decreased absenteeism by 27% in the short and medium-run. We also find evidence of increased grade transition in the medium-run, 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 those impacts are larger for girls that live further away from school. This also suggests that empowerment outcomes worked through increased attendance in school.

Location: Southern Province, Zambia

Policy Partner: World Bicycle Relief and Ministry of General Education

Researchers Involved:


Location: Uttar Pradesh, India

Policy Partner: Agastya Foundation 

Researchers Involved: Nitin Bharti, Samreen Malik, and Abhiroop Mukhopadhyay, Nishith Prakash

Abstract: A large body of literature has found that early childhood interventions have effects on later outcomes in life such as lifetime earnings (Cunha and Heckman 2008), language, cognitive, and emotional skills (Chinen and Bos 2016), and participation in crime and other risky behaviors (Heckman and Masterov 2004). However, the extent to which these impacts last and through what channels they occur is not understood. We aim to study a large-scale intervention in Nepal on teacher, parent, and child outcomes. Using randomization into a treatment that provides teacher and parental training on how to encourage cognitive, physical, linguistic, emotional, and social development in children, we will study outcomes for children, teachers, and parents across 200 ECD schools. We will track children’s long-term development outcomes, as well as changes in teacher and parental investments, knowledge, and practices. We will use this information in order to determine the mechanisms through which children grow and develop, as well as the effectiveness of early childhood interventions in both the short term and the long term.

Location: Jhapa, Nepal

Policy Partner: World Bank, and Ministry of Education, Science and Technology (Nepal)

Researchers Involved: Lindsey Buck, Rachel Cohen, Nathan Fiala, Mridul Mishra, Shwetlena Sabarwal, and Deepak Saraswat, Nishith Prakash

Abstract: Curiosity and critical thinking are essential components of the learning process, enabling students to explore and evaluate information and ideas. By fostering curiosity and encouraging critical thinking, teachers can create a more engaging and effective learning environment that promotes deeper understanding and long-term retention of knowledge. To explore the role of curiosity and critical thinking in education, we have partnered with Chalees Minute Foundation to evaluate an innovative science teacher training program in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh. This program is designed to promote curiosity-based learning and a discussion-based curriculum, giving teachers new tools to inspire curiosity and creative thinking in their students. We will assess the effectiveness of this program in enhancing students’ human capital and identifying the pedagogical and psychological mechanisms that lead to improved learning outcomes. We aim to create a sustainable model for effective science education that can be scaled up across India and beyond.

Location: Uttar Pradesh, India

Policy Partner: District Administration, Sant Kabir Nagar

Researchers Involved: Nishith Prakash

Abstract: Despite progress in addressing barriers to human capital in the last two decades, significant learning gaps persist. A new line of research suggests that holistic skills have been associated with positive impacts on later life outcomes. However, there is little evidence supporting the effectiveness of existing traditional classroom-based instructional strategies in improving non-cognitive and socio-emotional skills. In this study, we conduct a randomized control trial in 100 schools in Uttarakhand, India to estimate the causal impacts of an experiential learning pedagogy in secondary schools. The curriculum consists of a total of 36 hours of arts and theater-based instruction spread over 24 weekly sessions. We will measure the impacts on cognitive skills (critical thinking and learning), social skills (class participation, network formation, communication skills, pro-sociality), and emotional skills (stress, anxiety, self-care, self-esteem).  

Location: Uttrakhand, India

Policy Partner: Rang Kaarwaan

Researchers Involved: 

Research Projects

Nishith Prakash

Silvia Prina

  • Long-Term Effects of Financial Education on Youth Financial Behavior: Evidence from Financial Diaries with Veronica Frisancho and Alejandro Herrera (WiP)