Generating Skilled Self-Employment in Developing Countries: Experimental Evidence from Uganda

Last registered on February 09, 2016


Trial Information

General Information

Generating Skilled Self-Employment in Developing Countries: Experimental Evidence from Uganda
Initial registration date
February 09, 2016

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
February 09, 2016, 4:38 PM EST

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



Primary Investigator

University of Chicago

Other Primary Investigator(s)

PI Affiliation
The World Bank and Innovations for Poverty Action (IPA)
PI Affiliation
University of Connecticut & Innovations for Poverty Action (IPA)

Additional Trial Information

Start date
End date
Secondary IDs
We study a government program in Uganda designed to help the poor and unemployed become self-employed artisans, increase incomes, and thus promote social stability. Young adults in Uganda’s conflict-affected north were invited to form groups and submit grant proposals for vocational training and business start-up. Funding was randomly assigned among screened and eligible groups. Treatment groups received unsupervised grants of $382 per member. Grant recipients invest some in skills training but most in tools and materials. After four years, half practice a skilled trade. Relative to the control group, the program increases business assets by 57%, work hours by 17%, and earnings
by 38%. Many also formalize their enterprises and hire labor. We see no effect, however, on social cohesion, antisocial behavior, or protest. Effects are similar by gender but are qualitatively different for women because they begin poorer (meaning the impact is larger relative to their starting point) and because women’s work and earnings stagnate without the program but take off with it. The patterns we observe are consistent with credit constraints

Registration Citation

Blattman, Christopher, Nathan Fiala and Sebastian Martinez. 2016. "Generating Skilled Self-Employment in Developing Countries: Experimental Evidence from Uganda." AEA RCT Registry. February 09.
Former Citation
Blattman, Christopher et al. 2016. "Generating Skilled Self-Employment in Developing Countries: Experimental Evidence from Uganda." AEA RCT Registry. February 09.
Sponsors & Partners

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Experimental Details


To increase employment in northern Uganda, the government rolled out the Youth Opportunities Program (YOP) to help poor and unemployed adults become self-employed artisans. The government invited young adults to form groups and prepare proposals for how they would use a grant to train in and start independent trades. Funding was randomly assigned among 535 screened, eligible applicant groups consisting of both men and women. Successful proposals received one-time unsupervised grants worth $7,500 on average—about $382 per group member, roughly their average annual income. Treatment and control groups were surveyed at baseline and two and four years after the intervention.
Intervention Start Date
Intervention End Date

Primary Outcomes

Primary Outcomes (end points)
(i) Income
(ii) Investment in training and asset
(iii) level of employment
(iv) occupational type
(v) hiring of labor
(vi) formalization of firms
(vii) increase in social cohesion
Primary Outcomes (explanation)
(I) Income, being a difficult variable to measure, is constructed from consumption data. Consumption is estimated using two indices. The first index is uses durable assets—a z score is constructed by taking the first principal component of 70 measures of land, housing quality, and household assets. The second index is for short-term nondurable consumption—a z-score constructed by taking the first principal component of 30 select food items consumed in the past three days and expenditures on 28 select nonfood items.
(II) Investment in training and asset: group reports to surveyor on self and members
(III) level of employment: self-reported
(IV) occupational type: self-reported
(V) hiring of labor: self-reported
(VI) formalization of firms: self-reported
(VII) increase in social cohesion: Self-reported data on 50 measures of sociopolitical attitudes and behavior such as (i) kin integration, capturing 4 measures of household relations; (ii) community participation, capturing 10 measures of associational life and collective action; (iii) community public good contributions, including 7 types of goods; (iv) antisocial behavior, based on 8 forms of aggressive behavior with neighbors, community leaders, and police, plus 18 additional measures; and (v) protest attitudes and participation, based on 7 measures of participation in and attitudes around violent antigovernment protests following the 2011elections.

Secondary Outcomes

Secondary Outcomes (end points)
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)

Experimental Design

Experimental Design
To apply to the YOP program, young adults aged 16-35 had to form groups and write a proposal for how the group would train themselves in a skilled trade and use that trade to employ themselves. Group sizes ranged between 10-40 members. Selected applications were given a lump-sum transfer averaging $7,497 to a bank account with the understanding there would be little subsequent government oversight. When the trial began the government had a list of 535 groups that were eligible for the grant but not yet received them. From this pool, 265 groups were assigned treatment and 270 were assigned to the control group stratified by district.

Baseline surveys were conducted on both treatment and control groups by randomly selecting 5 members from each group to be tracked. After disbursement of the grant, two-year and four-year surveys were carried out with the same baseline respondents. In the case they had moved, not unusual for a youth demographic, attempts were made to find them in their new location. In cases where the respondent could not be traced at all, those that were found are weighted appropriately to make up for the missing observations.
Experimental Design Details
Randomization Method
Randomization done in office by a computer
Randomization Unit
Group eligible to receive grant, stratified by district.
Was the treatment clustered?

Experiment Characteristics

Sample size: planned number of clusters
535 eligible grant groups
Sample size: planned number of observations
2,667 (5 members per group except for one group that had 2 more)
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
265 treatment (received grant), 270 control
Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)

Institutional Review Boards (IRBs)

IRB Name
Yale University
IRB Approval Date
IRB Approval Number


Post Trial Information

Study Withdrawal

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Is the intervention completed?
Intervention Completion Date
September 30, 2008, 12:00 +00:00
Data Collection Complete
Data Collection Completion Date
June 30, 2012, 12:00 +00:00
Final Sample Size: Number of Clusters (Unit of Randomization)
535 groups
Was attrition correlated with treatment status?
Final Sample Size: Total Number of Observations
2,677 individuals
Final Sample Size (or Number of Clusters) by Treatment Arms
236 treatment (received grant), 299 control
Reports, Papers & Other Materials

Relevant Paper(s)

Reports & Other Materials