The effects of a randomized controlled health information campaign on sex workers' health, labour, and other outcomes in Bangladesh

Lead Researcher(s):
Russell Smyth (Monash University)
Alex Tan (Monash University)
Choon Wang (Monash University)
Asad Islam  (Monash University)

Sex workers have much higher HIV infection rates than the general population in Bangladesh because they have misconceptions about how HIV/AIDS is spread, poor knowledge about prevention of sexually transmitted infections, and do not consistently use condoms. We collaborate with ICDDR,B for testing STIs of sex workers. The project aims to evaluate whether a randomized controlled trial (RCT) of an innovative health information campaign in Bangladesh: 1) improve sex workers’ knowledge about safe sex practices and STIs, as well as their safe sex practices; 2) influence the health and labour market outcomes of sex workers; 3) affect other outcomes of sex workers, such as risk attitudes and other psychometrically valid measures of wellbeing.

Can Learning Chess Improve Student Creativity? A field experiment in Bangladesh

Lead Researcher(s):  
Wang-Sheng Lee (Deakin University)
Aaron Nicholas (Deakin University)
Asad Islam (Monash)

This project involves a randomized experiment of primary school students in Bangladesh using chess instruction as an intervention. We assess the effect of chess lessons on both creativity and academic achievement. Creativity is increasingly recognised as a core component of economic development and competitive advantage. Games like chess teach children to plan, calculate and think ahead, but also to think abstractly, visually, and to focus on certain aspects of a large-scale problem. These are aspects that are ignored by education systems that foster conformity, compliance and standardisation and emphasize test scores. Experimental results evaluating game-like interventions such as chess instruction will help inform evidence-based policies that emphasize creativity and non-cognitive skills.

The project is a joint collaboration with Deakin University and Monash University.

Improving educational outcomes of female and disadvantaged primary school students: randomized experiments to evaluate efficacy of supplementary teaching in Bangladesh

Lead Researcher(s):
Asad Islam (Monash University)
Yves Zenou (Monash University)

The project involves randomised experiments to evaluate effectiveness of supplementary teaching in Bangladesh. The project was conducted in about 360 schools, out of which we hired 200 teachers in the same number of (treatment) schools. We particularly focused on poor, girls and underperforming children in these schools where additional teachers hired by the project help students doing their homework and complete the class tasks. The teaching started in 2014 for two years. We are not waiting to obtain the post-intervention outcomes of these children to understand if the effects of intervention sustain beyond the duration of the project.

The project is being funded by AusAID (DFAT).

Technology adoption, System of Rice Intensification and Food Security in rural Bangladesh

Lead Researcher(s): 
Marcel fafchamps (Stanford Univeristy)
Chris Barrett (Cornel University)
Debayan Pakrashi (IIT, Kanpur)
M.A. Malek (BRAC)
Asad Islam (Monash University)

SRI is a rice management practice aimed at increasing the yield of rice produced in farming. It has increased rice production in developing countries by up to 80%. In collaboration with BRAC, we went into 300 villages and randomly selected 180 villages for training and information about SRI. We trained about 3000 farmers from these villages. This study is the first examining the effects and diffusion of SRI to a wider scale using RCTs. We provided farmers with training in SRI and taught them how to apply techniques to their farms. We also provided incentives to a group of the farmers to see if that would have any impact in the number of farmers they referred.


Network and Peer Effects in Education: Evidence from a Field Experiment in Bangladesh

Lead Researcher(s): 
Eleonora Pattachini (Cornel University)
Yves Zenou (Monash Universty)
Youjin Hahn (Yonsei University, Korea)
Asad Islam (Monash University)

The project investigates the effects of social networks on the educational outcomes of students in Bangladesh. We randomize 150 schools into three different groups: (i) the pure random group where we randomly allocate students into groups; (ii) the friendship group where we group students based on their friendship; (iii) the pure control group where we did not group students at all. We then study the importance of network centrality of a group on own outcomes among students from the pure random groups only.

In a separate paper, we examine what types of grouping matter in schools, and then test peer effects among students in different groups.

Understanding the volunteers’ motivation: Evidence from tutoring

Lead Researcher(s): 
Liang Choon Wang (Monash University)
Sakiba Tasneem (BRAC)
M.A. Malek (BRAC)
Asad Islam(Monash University)

In collaboration with BRAC, the project uses RCTs in 600 schools to examine (a) if the use of training, or performance-based certificate or a combination of the two is more effective in retaining volunteer tutors and improve their performance; (b) how retention rates and students’ performance differ based on non-financial incentives to volunteer tutors. Both BRAC & GDRI runs a large-scale volunteer tutor (Chattabandhu) program to provide fresh university graduates with training and to help economically disadvantaged students to improve learning in rural Bangladesh. The Chattabandhus work as a community volunteers who provide tutoring services for selected poor secondary school students. This research will help inform if training provision and the use of performance-based certificate in general have any effect on unpaid interns’ likelihood of staying in a program or finding a new paid job, as well as their performance.

Experiment on Microfinance and Women Bargaining power and Empowerment

Lead Researcher(s): 
Chau Nguyen (Monash University)
Klaus Abbink (Monash University)
Asad Islam (Monash University)

This study aims to provide an experiment approach to the household decision-making problem, with a focus on women’s control over household’s investment in the context of microfinance.

We would address the following research questions: (1) Is there any gender bias in household’s financial decision-making?; (2) Why do women tend to relinquish loans to their husbands’ control? ; (3) Are women more likely to invest in safe project over risky project?; (4) Under which circumstances are women more likely to engage in decision making?

Labour Supply Response to Earnings of Fisherman from a Developing Country: Identifying Intertemporal Substitution and Reference-Dependent Preferences

Lead Researcher(s): 
Asad Islam (Monash University)

We study daily labour supply responses to temporary earnings increases of fishermen in a developing country. We collected individual-level daily labour force participation, labour supply and the value of catches for fishermen from Southern Bangladesh.

The data was collected for 500 fishermen from 20 villages over a period of two years. Each fisherman has been interviewed weekly to get their daily fish catch, amount they consume and sell, and the time period and daily hours of work for catching fish and other purposes.

Risk-sharing and Social networks: Experimental and survey evidence from rural Bangladesh

Lead Researcher(s): 
Minhaj Mahmud (BIGD)
Paul Raschky (Monash University)
Asad Islam (Monash University)

We investigate whether disaster affects risk sharing behaviour by conducting field experiments in Bangladesh. By varying the level of exogenous commitment and information, we measure and compare risk sharing behaviour among exogenously defined treatment and control group of villagers with regards to disaster exposure.

We then examine the effects of pre-existing social networks and enforcement mechanisms on risk-sharing group formation and link subjects’ behavior in the game to their households’ real risk-sharing and risk-coping practices.

Understanding Corruption and risk-coping behaviour following disaster

Lead Researcher(s): 
Paul Raschky (Monash University)
Asad Islam (Monash University)

In May 2009 Bangladesh experienced a catastrophic cyclone (Known as Aila) in some parts of its country. Thousands of Cyclone Aila survivors have been hit again in February-March 2010 because of the embankments that were damaged by Aila were either not built in time.

We examine the impact of the cyclone/ flood on affected households, corruption in post-disaster aid disbursement and risk-coping strategies using a panel household level survey data set covering 1500 rural households. We also examine the insurance take-up following disaster, as well as risk and time preference using field experiment.

The first survey was conducted during October 2010-January 2011. The follow-up survey was completed in 2013.

Gender Differences in School Enrolment: Are they a Reflection of Gender Bias in Parental Attitudes?

Lead Researcher(s): 
Phil Grossman (Monash University)
Lutfunnahar Begum (NBER)
Asad Islam (Monash University)

This study focuses on parental attitudes towards different children’s gender. The survey data provides information on parental decisions that might not reflect their true attitudes.

We randomly selected households that had at least two school-aged children (6-18 years) of different genders. Parents, either jointly or individually, were given endowments to allocate, freely or restricted, for the benefit of anonymous girls or boys at a nearby school.

We then investigate how parents’ inherent gender bias is associated with their decisions regarding the schooling and health of their own son and daughter.