Mobile money has been shown to reduce aggregate poverty and improve outcomes for households and businesses. However, not everyone has equal access to this important economic tool. In low income communities, women lag behind men in participation in both mobile money and labor markets. This research project will use experimental methods to study how discrimination against women in the mobile money market affects their labor market participation, human capital formation, and other social outcomes. It also studies whether employing women as mobile money agents decreases labor market discrimination against women generally and improves their social outcomes. The results of this research will provide guidance on policies to decrease labor markets against women but could also provide mechanisms to decrease poverty and reduce income inequality. Hiring women as mobile money agents offers an opportunity to increase economic opportunities for women, change social attitudes towards women's labor force participation, and improve their access to mobile money.
This research uses a randomized controlled trial to measure the causal effects of employing women as mobile money agents on the economic and other social outcomes in low income environments. It also studies the effects of work on the incomes, skill accumulation, and autonomy of women compared to men; and whether the availability of female mobile money agents increases the use of mobile money by female customers. The research will study how female labor supply responds to the number of women working as mobile money agents by randomly assigning subsidies to 500 shops for hiring either male or female employees. On the demand side, the researchers will randomize the digitization of loan repayments at 90 BRAC branches, which increases the demand for mobile money by female customers. The results of this research will not only provide guidance on policies to decrease labor market discrimination against women but could also decrease poverty as well as reduce income inequality.
This award reflects NSF's statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation's intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.