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Study Overview

Gendered Differences in Mobility and the Demand for Transport: Evidence from a Field Experiment in Urban Ethiopia
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Study Status:
In Development

We document the extent to which mobility varies by gender, and particularly for women, with the introduction of an improved private transport option. To this end, we will conduct a field experiment to evaluate the causal impact of introducing free and efficient transport on mobility, access to services and desired destinations, and measures of empowerment and well-being. Our key research aims are to: 1) examine gender differences in mobility patterns, travel demand, and transport preferences in urban settings; and 2) identify how the removal of key barriers to efficient and safe transport affects: a) travel demand and mobility; b) travel patterns and preferences; and c) autonomy and well-being, particularly for women. Our study is a three-armed randomized controlled trial with an estimated 1,000 households in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia that consists of a baseline survey followed by implementation of our transport intervention over a two-month period. Following a baseline survey, each household will be randomly assigned to one of three treatment arms: 1) a “woman transport” arm (N = 400 households); 2) a “man transport” arm (N = 300 households); or 3) a “couples transport” arm (N = 300 households). Each household will then be provided with the name and contact information of a private taxi service in Addis Ababa. For households that are randomly assigned to the woman transport arm, the taxi service will be offered to women in the household for their private use. For households that are randomly assigned to the men transport arm, the service will be offered to men in the household. Finally, for households that are randomly assigned to the couples transport arm, the service will be offered to both men and women in the household. A follow-up survey will be conducted with all participants after completion of the intervention.

Registration Citation:
Public Sector Management
Water and Sanitation
Additional Keywords:
transport, gender, household bargaining, mobility, travel demand, Ethiopia
Secondary ID Number(s):

Principal Investigator(s)

Name of First PI:
Mahesh Karra
Boston University
Name of Second PI:

Research Partner

Name of Partner Institution:
Econinsight Center for Development Research
Type of Organization:
Research institute/University

Intervention Overview


As part of the intervention, participants will receive transport credit in the form of a personalized transport voucher, which they may use over a two-month period to reimburse the cost of any trips that they take with a team of 10 hired taxis that are hired and contracted to be on call for the duration of the intervention period. The total value of the voucher that is presented to each participant will be randomized to vary between 1150 ETB ($25 USD) and 4600 ETB ($100 USD) such that an average couple will receive 2300 ETB ($50 USD). In addition, the voucher and transport intervention package will be randomized to either be presented to the woman alone (the “woman arm,” N = 400 households), the man alone (the “man arm,” N = 300 households), or the couple together (the “couples arm,” N = 300 households).

Recipients of the voucher (women, men, or couples) will be informed that they are the primary benefiiceries of the service and will be presented with a number of terms and conditions to using the service. Participants will receive other intervention materials, including a customized ID card that will be used to verify their identity each time they take a trip, the names and contact information for each of the 10 hired taxi drivers, and the names and contact information for our study team whom participants may contact to set up appointments, ask questions about the services that are provided, etc. Participants will be asked to make any taxi appointments at least 3 hours in advance of a planned trip. Each taxi driver will be accompanied by an enumerator, who will be responsible for: 1) confirming eligibility of passengers by checking their voucher and ID details; 2) collecting the data on trips’ origin, stops, duration, purpose, accompanying travelers, etc.; and 3) handling the reimbursement process for the trip upon completion directly with the driver.

Theory of Change:

Women’s travel patterns and means of mobility are notably different from men’s, and these differences are characterized by deep and persistent inequalities. Women typically have inferior access to both private and public means of transport while concurrently assuming a higher share of their household’s travel burden. Poor access to safe and efficient transit limits a time- and resource-constrained woman’s ability to choose whether and how to travel outside the home. A woman may therefore modify her travel behavior (e.g. traveling during certain times of the day, taking multiple transport routes, trip chaining, avoiding travel during peak travel times, etc.) in order to minimize any risks that she may face in public spaces, especially when using multiple modes of transport. These mobility constraints, along with the costs that women have to bear to overcome them, have significant and adverse implications for women’s productivity, engagement with markets and services, and well-being.

The introduction of effective transportation services for women has the potential to: 1) meet women’s demand for transport and access to destinations of interest; 2) promote women’s access to services, including those that enhance their human capital, productivity, and well-being (health, education, etc.); and 3) improve women's access to economic, political and social opportunities (jobs, markets, social services, cultural and political spaces, etc.), which in turn, may positively affect their autonomy and well-being. Few evaluations have sought to identify the impact of improved services on women’s travel demand, and no randomized control trial, to our knowledge, has attempted to causally identify the impact of improved mobility and transport on more expansive measures of women’s empowerment and well-being in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Multiple Treatment Arms Evaluated?

Implementing Agency

Name of Organization:
Econinsight Center for Development Research
Type of Organization:
Research Institution/University

Program Funder

Name of Organization:
William and Flora Hewlett Foundation
Type of Organization:
Private for profit organization

Intervention Timing

Intervention or Program Started at time of Registration?
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End Date:
Evaluation Method

Evaluation Method Overview

Primary (or First) Evaluation Method:
Randomized control trial
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Method Details

Details of Evaluation Approach:

This study is a three-armed randomized controlled trial that aims to identify the causal impact of high-quality and accessible transport on a range of mobility and empowerment outcomes. The study consists of a baseline survey followed by implementation of our private transport intervention over a two month period. A follow-up survey will be conducted with all participants after completion of the intervention.

Our main econometric specifications will estimate the intent-to-treat (ITT) effect of our transport intervention on taxi utilization, number of trips, length of trips and other outcomes related to travel behavior by directly regressing our outcomes of interest on variables indicating assignment to either the “woman only” intervention arm or the “couples” intervention arm (with the “man only” intervention arm serving as the reference group). To this end, we conduct comparisons across different intervention arms to identify how travel behavior might differ by who in the couple received the voucher (man, woman, or jointly). We will also conduct analyses to infer the elasticity of demand for travel across treatment arms by assessing how the uptake of transport changed based on the transport credit amount received. We will conduct several sub-group analyses to examine how our transport intervention effects vary across key subpopulations. Subgroups of interest include: couples where women may have lower mobility and bargaining power (e.g. have to get approval to travel, have fewer resources for transport), poorer households, households with lower baseline mobility, and households with dependents. Finally, robustness checks (5 percent and 10 percent sample truncations, coarsening of independent variables) and falsification tests, which include placebo regression, simulation, and resampling methods, will be conducted to ascertain the strength and significance of our estimates.

Outcomes (Endpoints):

All participating households and clients will be re-interviewed after two months of exposure to the intervention. Outcomes of interest include: 1) uptake of the taxi service; 2) attitudes and perceptions around access, and satisfaction with transport; 3) measures of access and travel to key destinations (markets, points of interest, etc.); 4) time use and changes in travel demand and preferences; 5) access to and utilization of public services (healthcare, public goods, etc.); 6) changes to labor market activity and productivity; and 7) broader measures of autonomy, empowerment, and economic well-being. As part of our primary analyses, we will estimate the extent to which gender gaps in travel, including travel distance, mobility (number of trips taken per participant per week), and spatial access (number of new destinations travelled), are reduced over the study period.

Unit of Analysis:
couple (women and men individually as well as jointly)

Our study seeks to achieve the following:

  1. By providing private, free transport that is available on demand and at any time, we reduce a wide range of constraints that typically exist in cases where some determinants of travel burden are relaxed (e.g. through the subsidization of fares, improved safety of vehicles, increased geographic coverage, etc.). In doing so, we seek to more effectively estimate the true latent demand for travel by observing how mobility patterns, travel frequency, and measures of travel behavior change in a simulated, less constrained environment.
  2. Through our study design, we document travel preferences, demand, and other measures of well-being by gender. Our experimental approach will allow us to rigorously assess the extent to which gender-specific barriers to mobility and effective transport account for any relative differences between women’s and men’s observed (realized) travel behavior and outcomes.
Unit of Intervention or Assignment:
The unit of randomization is the couple (either women only, men only, or the couple jointly)
Number of Clusters in Sample:
N/A - The intervention is randomized at the couple level
Number of Individuals in Sample:
1000 couples from 1000 selected households in Addis Ababa
Size of Treatment, Control, or Comparison Subsamples:
T1 (Woman Only Arm): 400 couples; T2 (Man Only Arm): 300 couples; T3 (Couples Arm): 300 couples

Outcomes Data

We will collect a range of quantitative and qualitative data. Quantitative data is comprised of survey data from the main experiment, including baseline surveys, taxi intervention monitoring data (trip-level data), and endline surveys with respondents. To complement our quantitative data collection, we will also conduct qualita
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Treatment Assignment Data

Participation or Assignment Information:
Data Obtained by the Study Researchers?
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Data Analysis

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Study Materials

Upload Study Materials:
Concept Note and Data Collection Plan: Woman Transport Study Concept Note - MVK 7-25-21.pdf

Registration Category

Registration Category:
Prospective, Category 1: Data for measuring impacts have not been collected

Completion Overview

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Preliminary Report:
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Data Availability

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Other Materials

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Study Stopped