Phone Sharing and Cash Transfers in Togo: Quantitative Evidence from Mobile Phone Data

10/30/2021
by   Emily L. Aiken, et al.
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Phone sharing is pervasive in many low- and middle-income countries, affecting how millions of people interact with technology and each other. Yet there is very little quantitative evidence available on the extent or nature of phone sharing in resource-constrained contexts. This paper provides a comprehensive quantitative analysis of phone sharing in Togo, and documents how a large cash transfer program during the COVID-19 pandemic impacted sharing patterns. We analyze mobile phone records from the entire Togolese mobile network to measure the movement of SIM cards between SIM card slots (often on different mobile devices). First, we document the prevalence of sharing in Togo, with 22 data from a government-run cash transfer program, we find that phone sharing is most common among women, young people, and people in rural areas. Finally, we find that the delivery of cash aid via mobile money significantly increases phone sharing among beneficiaries. We discuss the limitations of measuring phone sharing with mobile network data and the implications of our results for future aid programs delivered via mobile money.

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