Linking literacy and mobile phone usage among women: Evidence from a women's adult literacy programme in India
MetadataShow full item record
In this paper we evaluate the impact of a female adult literacy programme (FALP henceforth) on the ownership, access and use of mobile phones among its participants. Using a mixed methods research design, we present both quantitative and qualitative evidence, that going through the programme increases both the quantity and quality of mobile phone use. We use propensity score matching (PSM) techniques to estimate the treatment effects. Going through the FALP increases both the probability of ownership and the use of the mobile phone. These results assume significance in light of the fact that, in spite of a long history of adult literacy programmes, 50% of women above the age of 15 in India continue to be illiterate (Census 2011). In fact, in the state of UP, where the programme is located, 56% adult women are illiterate. Using the nationally representative Financial Inclusions Insights (FII) data from India on mobile phone ownership and access from 2013 – 2016, we show that women are less likely to own and use a phone compared to men. The use and ownership of phones increases with education levels and illiterate women are significantly less likely to own and use a phone compared to literate women. These results are robust to inclusion of various controls and fixed effects. This paper therefore first establishes the presence of a digital divide in terms of gender and education and then provides causal evidence on illiteracy as one of the reasons for this divide. The results of this paper show that purely supply side interventions will not be enough to bridge digital divides in terms of gender and education.
- R & P Seminar