Research Projects

The use of mobile text messaging to increase participation in canine rabies vaccination campaigns (completed)

Dates: 1st December, 2017 to 31st March, 2018
PI: Sayantan Ghosal (Economics, Adam Smith Business School); Co-Is: Katie Hampson and Tiziana Lembo (Institute of Biodiversity, Animal Health and Comparative Medicine); Project Collaborators: Ifakara Health Institute, Tanzania,
Joel Changalucha

ProjectFunder: Scottish Funding Council, Grand Challenges Research Framework Small Fund, £45,283

Rabid domestic dog bites cause the most human rabies deaths in low and middle income countries. If you were to vaccinate 70% of dogs it would be effective in eliminating rabies. Campaigns are underway in Tanzania, but not all achieve their required vaccination target due to insufficient community participation. Two approaches that may increase participation are text messaging and mobilisation by religious leaders.

With almost 97% of households owning mobile phones, the low cost of text messages has the potential to be a cost-effective way of providing information about rabies risk to make it more salient to participants.

Religious leaders have a powerful influence on communities, and can help define and deliver messages about the need to vaccinate dogs collectively. Our proposed activities will expand our local networks in Tanzania by identifying the most relevant community members whose involvement will lead to the required vaccination coverage. We will generate critical baseline data to target large-scale external funding to rigorously test these two interventions. Similar collective action problems arise in a number of other public health initiatives. Our empirical findings and theoretical analysis will contribute to the design of prevention programmes which maximise and sustain participation more broadly.

We will conduct:

  • Workshops in 36 villages to identify community members whose involvement will lead to increased participation. The workshops together with household questionnaires will determine socio-economic factors, local knowledge and experience with rabies, perceived barriers to participation in vaccination campaigns, and perceptions about and potential impediments to the interventions proposed.
  • Focus groups, involving representative community members in a subset of villages to obtain an in-depth understanding of the perspective and attitude towards rabies and rabies vaccination campaigns. Participants will also contribute to the design of messages for mobile phone texting.
  • A pilot to create indicators for household and community level willingness to participate in a collective action problem. Participants will be given 10,000 Tanzanian Shillings (TZS) worth of phone credit and have the ability to choose to act non-cooperatively by keeping the credit, or cooperatively by returning it. The participants acting cooperatively will receive 20,000 TZS worth of phone credit.

The project will provide theoretical and empirical insight into a collective action problem in marginalised communities. It will focus on rabies in Tanzania because it is one of the six national priorities for global elimination. The project team will model and pilot interventions for increasing participation, hence vaccination coverage, during dog rabies vaccinations.
One of my PhD student, Putthi Cheat Lim, who is funded LKAS award is a named researcher on the grant.

It is expected this project will produce significant outputs and outcomes for the local communities involved and deliver tangible benefits to them. Firstly, it will provide information about rabies and rabies prevention, which will hopefully change their attitude and knowledge about rabies in a positive way.

Secondly, villages involved in the research will be provided with dog rabies vaccines during the vaccination campaigns. Thirdly, if successful, there will be an increase in vaccination coverage in villages involved in the research, which means community members will be at lower risk from rabies than before, therefore fewer human deaths from rabies are likely to occur.

This project also aims to create behavioural changes in the communities being studied. We expect it will increase awareness in the local communities about rabies and preventative measures, which include not only vaccination, but also for example, the importance of post exposure prophylaxis and wound cleaning after exposure. We expect this will lead to sustained active participation in vaccination campaigns by the community members.

We anticipate the project will generate a novel data set, a new theoretical model, at least one academic paper and a short policy briefing.
Our interdisciplinary project provides opportunities for researchers and institutions from different disciplinary and cultural backgrounds, to exchange knowledge and expertise. It will provide a collaboration involving a public health economist new to official development assistance related research (Putthi Cheat Lim) and a biomedical Tanzanian scientist with experience predominantly in rabies epidemiological research (Joel Changalucha).

This project therefore contributes a behavioural economics perspective and provides capacity to generate solutions to a collective action problem in rural African communities. It also increases the ability of the University of Glasgow to contribute to Global Challenges Research Fund priorities through training of Glasgow scientists in international development research.

The findings of this project will enable the project team to participate in and lead future GCRF, Newton, ESRC-DFID and MRC bids with a focus on participation in prevention programmes using insights from behavioural economics.

Disadvantage and participation accountability processes: theory and evidence from school development and management committees in Karnataka, India

PI: Sayantan Ghosal (Economics, Adam Smith Business School). Co-Is: Michele Schweisfurth (Education), Chris Chapman (Education), Theodre Koutmeridis (Economics, Adam Smith Business School), Patricio Dalton (Economics, Tilburg University). Project Collaborators: Public Affairs Centre, Bengaluru, India (Dr. S. Nanda and Dr. M. Nair).

Project Funders: ESRC/DFID, £746,628.51 (FEC)

This interdisciplinary project will carry out innovative, policy-relevant research, focused on addressing the research question: "How do interacting dynamics in the social, political, economic and cultural context enable or inhibit the delivery of quality education in specific developing country contexts?".

Section 21 of The Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act, 2009 (RTE) in India calls for the establishment of a School Development and Management Committee (SMC) consisting of teachers, parents and guardians of children and elected representatives within the concerned local area; a minimum 75% of the SMC are required to be parents/guardians (of which 50% must be women) with proportionate representation from disadvantaged groups e.g. scheduled castes and tribes and minority religions. The SMC monitors the working of the school, prepares and recommends the School Development Plan and monitors the utilization of grants received from the appropriate government or any other source. In practice, parents (especially those who belong to scheduled castes/tribes and minorities) are passive participants and rarely exercise voice within the SMC and tend to be dominated by Head Teachers of the concerned Schools.

In this project, we will:

  • Develop a conceptual framework (use insights from education research, behavioural economics and game theory to examine, both theoretically and empirically, how poverty, marginalization and exclusion (collectively referred to as "disadvantage") impact on the beliefs and agency of parents;
  • Collect evidence, combining both quantitative (baseline/endline surveys, Randomized Control Trials (RCT)) and qualitative methods (focus groups, semi-structured interviews), on the potential impact of a pro-poor accountability framework. The baseline survey will lead to an analysis of supply side constraints and a the Community Score Card (CSC) (both pioneered by the Public Affairs Centre (PAC), our collaborators);
  • Examine whether a training programme (based on "Reflect" and "Reflect!on Act!on", developed by Action Aid ) to encourage active participation and critical engagement by disadvantaged groups (a) impacts positively on the beliefs, aspirations and agency of parents belonging to poor marginalised communities (scheduled castes/tribes and minorities) in certain districts in rural Northern Karnataka , (b) results in their active, critical engagement within the SMC, and (c) improves the educational/learning outcomes of their children (both boys and girls). To the best of our knowledge, our project would constitute the first randomized control trial (RCT) evaluation of a Reflect program;
  • Provide evidence and make the normative case for amending the RTE Act in India (and similar provisions in other ODA countries such as Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal) by including such training for parents as part of the provisions of the act: this will be of direct interest to the SSA and the Education department in Karnataka and in other states in India as well as the Central Government;
  • Develop training programmes tailored to encourage participation by disadvantaged groups in social accountability processes and these will be documented in detail and be made available to all interested parties in India (including blocks, villages and districts that were not randomly selected for the training via local panchayats) and elsewhere (via the project website).

We anticipate that the insights and the evidence generated by this combined theoretical and empirical approach will inform community-led initiatives to raise the educational outcomes of children more broadly in Asia and Africa.

The starting point of our project is the following observation: although parents belonging to disadvantaged groups may be aware of their rights, they may lack confidence and be pessimistic about their ability to influence the system even if they were to take an active role in an accountability process which impacts on the education outcomes of their children. When a critical threshold of active participation is required for an accountability process to be effective but such participation is costly, such beliefs could lead to an outcome of the underlying collective action problem where nobody exercises their formal rights of participation, thus contributing to the low educational outcomes of their children.

To the best of our knowledge, our project would constitute the first randomized control trial (RCT) evaluation of a Reflect program and we will be able to identify the causal effect of this interventions on empowerment and accountability.

The project will examine whether such a programme (a) impacts positively on the beliefs, aspirations and agency of parents belonging to poor marginalised communities (scheduled castes/tribes and minorities) in certain districts in rural Northern Karnataka , (b) results in their active, critical engagement within the SMC, and (c) improves the educational/learning outcomes of their children (both boys and girls).


Do role models increase hope and effort? Evidence from primary schools in India

PI: Prateek Chandra Bhan (Economics, Adam Smith Business School)

Supervisors: Prof. Sayantan Ghosal (Economics, Adam Smith Business School), Dr. Theodore Koutmeridis (Economics, Adam Smith Business School) and Prof. Michele Schweisfurth (School of Education)

Project collaborators: Muskaan – Foundation for Road Safety, Jaipur, India (Dr. Mridul Bhasin and Mr. Sameer Nainawat)

Project Funder: BSI and College of Social Sciences Seed-corn funds, University of Glasgow

Dates: 1st February 2018 to 1st September 2020

Pre-analysis plan (PAP):

 This study examines the effect of role models on student hope and effort. A growing body of literature in behavioural economics indicates that hopefulness is associated with superior academic and athletic performance. Hope can be an instigator of higher goal-setting and effort. A randomised controlled trial (RCT) is conducted to examine the effect of a role-modelling intervention in primary school students aged 9-11 years in Jaipur, India.

 The experimental treatment comprises of three motivational films that aim to influence the mental models of the participants by exposing them to comparable and relatable protagonists that succeeded in achieving their aspirations through hope and hard work.

Student effort is measured directly as an aggregate of two indicators: attendance at a remedial class and third party observations in a substitution class. Accompanying survey instruments and Snyder’s Children’s Hope Scale (CHS) track the psychological effects on hope. Additionally, a psychometric analysis approach of children’s drawings is used to measure hope. The primary objective of the research is to: (i) test if hope is malleable, and (ii) offer a cost-effective and scalable intervention that not only increases children's hope but also translates into higher effort and improved academic performance.

A brief summary of the research methodology is available in the following video. Further details can be found at the American Economic Society’s RCT registry.

Hope is Real