Information Frictions in Internal Migration

Last registered on September 19, 2022


Trial Information

General Information

Information Frictions in Internal Migration
Initial registration date
September 11, 2022

Initial registration date is when the trial was registered.

It corresponds to when the registration was submitted to the Registry to be reviewed for publication.

First published
September 19, 2022, 3:04 PM EDT

First published corresponds to when the trial was first made public on the Registry after being reviewed.



Primary Investigator

University of Rochester

Other Primary Investigator(s)

PI Affiliation
PI Affiliation
Center for Global Development

Additional Trial Information

In development
Start date
End date
Secondary IDs
Prior work
This trial does not extend or rely on any prior RCTs.
We study the importance of information frictions facing potential rural-urban migrants in Kenya using a cluster-randomized trial with a representative set households across 5 Kenyan counties. Pre-experimental work shows that rural workers' beliefs about income in the largest city, Nairobi, are severely downward biased on average, and that many potential migrants have limited or no social connections in Nairobi. Given the importance of social networks in forming beliefs, assisting with job search, and providing localized information, it is possible that weak networks act as a barrier to migration.

Our baseline intervention provides detailed information about earnings in Nairobi. Our "group'' and "guide'' interventions supplement the baseline information by attempting to leverage origin and destination social networks, respectively, to facilitate migration. Our "group'' intervention presents the same information in a group setting, and encourages villagers to share information with each other about Nairobi, discuss their plans to migrate in the future, and potentially coordinate their trips. Our "guide'' intervention pairs prospective migrants with established local guides in Nairobi, who meet with them and share information about the city. We also reserve a set of villages where we treat a subset of the experimental sample, allowing us to study the determinants of information diffusion.
External Link(s)

Registration Citation

Barnett-Howell, Zachary, Travis Baseler and Thomas Ginn. 2022. "Information Frictions in Internal Migration." AEA RCT Registry. September 19.
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Experimental Details


Control: Households in these villages will be surveyed, but will not receive any treatment.

Information: Households in these villages will receive a detailed information sheet about earnings in Nairobi. When they receive the sheet, they will also hear a detailed script read by the enumerator explaining where the information on the sheet came from and how to interpret it.

Spillover: A random two-thirds of sampled households in these villages will be given the information sheet and script, as described above. The remaining one-third will be surveyed, but not given any information.

Group Information: Households in these villages will be invited to a group presentation where they will receive the same information (sheet+script) as the ``Information'' households. Afterward, our project staff will facilitate group discussions about migrating to Nairobi by inviting prior migrants to describe their experiences and take questions, and breaking attendees into small groups to discuss their plans for migrating and potentially coordinate trips.

Guide + Information: Households in these villages will be given the same information as in the ``Information'' villages, plus will be offered to pair with a local guide in Nairobi. We will identify local guides who are established in Nairobi, willing to guide a new migrant around the city, and fit the profile desired by the household (for example, having experience in the occupation the migrant wants to work in). The guides will also speak with the prospective migrants over the phone prior to migrating, if they wish.
Intervention Start Date
Intervention End Date

Primary Outcomes

Primary Outcomes (end points)
Migration to Nairobi, family income.
Primary Outcomes (explanation)
We will measure total migration as the number of individuals in a family who have migrated to Nairobi at any point after treatment. We will measure family income by combining:
- Individual labor income over the past 30 days, elicited person-by-person
- Household enterprise profits at the origin over the past 30 days, elicited business-by-business
- Enterprise profits earned by migrants over the past 30 days, elicited migrant-by-migrant
- Estimated value of crop harvest at the origin, measured over the most recently finished season and converted to a monthly value

Secondary Outcomes

Secondary Outcomes (end points)
Perceived own earnings in Nairobi, uncertainty about own earning in Nairobi, planned migration to Nairobi, coordinated migration, well-being, aspirations for children.
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)
Coordinated migration includes traveling together, residing together in the destination, searching for jobs together, or seeking advice from one another prior to migrating. Well-being will be constructed as an index comprising family income, access to four improved amenities (piped water, electricity, improved toilet, improved cooking fuel), the presence of financial worries, and self-reported happiness for the primary respondent.

Experimental Design

Experimental Design
Our sample was selected from 5 counties in three stages using census data provided by the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics. We randomly select sub-locations from the universe of sub-locations in our 5 study counties, after excluding sub-locations in the bottom 5% or top 10% of the county-specific density distribution (population per square kilometer). We randomly select one enumeration area (essentially, village) within each sampled sub-location, after excluding villages with fewer than 50 households. We randomly select approximately 30 households per village to form our experimental sample. Households were randomly chosen from an exhaustive list of households in each village which we collected prior to the experiment with the assistance of village leaders. We stratify selection by intended migration, oversampling households who report that they might send a migrant to a city within the next year.
Experimental Design Details
Not available
Randomization Method
Done in office by computer.
Randomization Unit
Village and household
Was the treatment clustered?

Experiment Characteristics

Sample size: planned number of clusters
560 villages
Sample size: planned number of observations
16,800 households
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
Control: 116, Info: 172, Spillover: 88, Group: 64, Guide: 120
Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)

Institutional Review Boards (IRBs)

IRB Name
University of Rochester Research Subjects Review Board
IRB Approval Date
IRB Approval Number
IRB Name
Maseno University Ethics Review Committee
IRB Approval Date
IRB Approval Number
Analysis Plan

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