Negotiating a better future: Tracking girls for post-secondary follow-up

Project Active from to Inclusive Growth

This study evaluates the long-term effects of a randomised control trial that taught Zambian adolescent girls negotiation skills in 2013. The study focused on adolescent girls both because growing evidence suggests that adolescence is a critical period for the development of non-cognitive interpersonal skills (Choudhury, Blakemore, and Charman, 2006), and because adolescence is a period when girls face many obstacles, including high female dropout rates.

In a medium-term evaluation of the intervention, Ashraf, Bau, Low and McGinn (2018) found that negotiation skills reduced dropout, improved an aggregate index of girls’ human capital outcomes and fostered co-operation between girls and their parents within the household. These findings suggest that non-material resources can improve girls’ educational outcomes, even without directly alleviating financial constraints, whereas, in much of Sub-Saharan Africa, female secondary schooling is low.

After reviewing initial results from this study showing that negotiation training improved negotiation skills, the Zambian Ministry of General Education Curriculum Development Centre integrated negotiation training into their revised life skills and sexual health curriculum.  The new curriculum reached all 8th-grade pupils in government schools beginning in early 2016. After the release of the initial study results, Zambian policymakers also asked the researchers to continue the study to evaluate the longer-term effects of the negotiation training.

In this follow-up study, the researchers aim to assess the effects of the training on longer-term educational and non-educational outcomes, including secondary school completion and the transition to college, fertility, employment, wages, mental health and decision-making by spouses in the household. Thus, in addition to providing information on the benefits of the intervention to Zambian policymakers, this study will produce among the first estimates of the long-term returns to interpersonal, non-cognitive skills.