Markets and the Making of `Modern' Sensibilities? Experimental Evidence from Sub-Saharan Africa

Last registered on January 23, 2023


Trial Information

General Information

Markets and the Making of `Modern' Sensibilities? Experimental Evidence from Sub-Saharan Africa
Initial registration date
January 23, 2023

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
January 23, 2023, 7:14 AM EST

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


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Primary Investigator

Harvard University

Other Primary Investigator(s)

PI Affiliation
Tufts University
PI Affiliation
University of British Columbia
PI Affiliation
University of California Berkeley
PI Affiliation
The London School of Economics

Additional Trial Information

On going
Start date
End date
Secondary IDs
Prior work
This trial does not extend or rely on any prior RCTs.
This project seeks to provide causal evidence to bear on three classic social science theories concerning how markets shape values. We study the randomized rollout of a program promoting market access in rural villages in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). Implemented by a local NGO called Congo Helping Hands (CHH), this `City Access Program' (CAP) provides regular weekly transportation by motorbike taxi to the largest market in the city of Kananga to individuals living in rural villages surrounding the city. We leverage the random assignment of this program as a source of exogenous variation in access to markets.

In the first part of the analysis, we empirically assess whether markets are value laden. The assumption that markets are value neutral is crucial to welfare analysis in economics. If markets have independent impacts on individuals' values and preferences, then standard approaches in economics would need to be rethought.

In the second part of the analysis, we test three classic hypotheses about markets in social sciences: (1) markets make humans more trusting, more trustworthy and more likely to view social interaction as a positive-sum game (the doux-commerce thesis); (2) markets make humans into homo economicus, self-interested utility maximizers who become more detached from their communities; (3) markets make humans feel poorer by raising the standards of material wealth that is perceived to be necessary for happiness (the Rousseau hypothesis).
External Link(s)

Registration Citation

Jaravel, Xavier et al. 2023. "Markets and the Making of `Modern' Sensibilities? Experimental Evidence from Sub-Saharan Africa ." AEA RCT Registry. January 23.
Experimental Details


See PAP.
Intervention Start Date
Intervention End Date

Primary Outcomes

Primary Outcomes (end points)
See PAP.
Primary Outcomes (explanation)

Secondary Outcomes

Secondary Outcomes (end points)
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)

Experimental Design

Experimental Design
See PAP.
Experimental Design Details
Not available
Randomization Method
The randomization is done by a computer.
Randomization Unit
The unit of randomization is the village.
Was the treatment clustered?

Experiment Characteristics

Sample size: planned number of clusters
300 clusters (villages)
Sample size: planned number of observations
1800 main respondents, 6 main respondents per cluster (see PAP).
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
100 villages (clusters) per treatment arm with 6 main respondents in each (see PAP).
Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)

Institutional Review Boards (IRBs)

IRB Name
Harvard Institutional Review Board
IRB Approval Date
IRB Approval Number
IRB Name
London School of Economics Research Ethics Committee
IRB Approval Date
IRB Approval Number
Ref. 1038
IRB Name
University of British Columbia Behavioural Research Ethics Board
IRB Approval Date
IRB Approval Number
Analysis Plan

Analysis Plan Documents

Jaravel Ngoma Nunn Sievert Weigel_PAP_DRC_markets

MD5: 88a200a6a5cd0f7c731d47aad462c6f6

SHA1: fca9a61eec0226cc0793016c5348e282c081421d

Uploaded At: January 20, 2023