Can employment reduce lawlessness and rebellion? A field experiment with high-risk men in a fragile state

Last registered on April 27, 2016

Pre-Trial

Trial Information

General Information

Title
Can employment reduce lawlessness and rebellion? A field experiment with high-risk men in a fragile state
RCT ID
AEARCTR-0001203
Initial registration date
April 27, 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
April 27, 2016, 4:21 PM EDT

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

Locations

Region

Primary Investigator

Affiliation
University of Chicago

Other Primary Investigator(s)

PI Affiliation
Director of Research and Evaluation, International Rescue Committee

Additional Trial Information

Status
Completed
Start date
2009-05-01
End date
2011-06-30
Secondary IDs
Abstract
In fragile states, job programs are designed to deter high-risk men from crime and violence. These programs assume that supplying skills and capital stimulates lawful employment, that employment deters illegal or violent work, and that employment will increase socio-political integration. Rigorous, individual-level evidence for these assumptions is rare. We evaluate a program of agricultural training and capital for Liberian ex-fighters. The agricultural skills and capital increased returns to lawful employment. Consequently, the men were 24% less engaged with mercenary recruiters during a neighboring war. They also shifted hours from illicit work (e.g. illegal mining) to agriculture by 20%. Some men did not receive the capital inputs and expected a cash transfer instead. Expecting future transfers was especially influential in deterring illicit and mercenary work. We see no evidence, however, that employment affects nonmaterial violence or socio-political integration. The findings challenge strategies for employing and rehabilitating high-risk men.
External Link(s)

Registration Citation

Citation
, and Christopher Blattman. 2016. "Can employment reduce lawlessness and rebellion? A field experiment with high-risk men in a fragile state." AEA RCT Registry. April 27. https://doi.org/10.1257/rct.1203
Former Citation
, and Christopher Blattman. 2016. "Can employment reduce lawlessness and rebellion? A field experiment with high-risk men in a fragile state." AEA RCT Registry. April 27. https://www.socialscienceregistry.org/trials/1203/history/7981
Sponsors & Partners

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Experimental Details

Interventions

Intervention(s)
Liberian ex-combatant men were recruited for an agricultural training program from communities which were “hotspots” of illicit activity, namely rubber plantations, mines and towns with mercenary recruiting. Half the recruits could be offered a spot on the training program since demand outstripped supply. Those who were not taken in served as the control group.

The men received 3-4 months of coursework and practical training in agriculture, basic literacy and numeracy training, psychosocial counseling, along with meals, clothing, basic medical care, and personal items. After the training, counselors facilitated graduates' reintegration with access to land in any community of their choice. Graduates received a package of agricultural tools and supplies, valued at approximately US$125. The program's total cost was approximately $1,275 per youth.

An endline with both treatment and control groups was conducted 14 months after the completion of the program.
Intervention Start Date
2009-11-01
Intervention End Date
2010-02-28

Primary Outcomes

Primary Outcomes (end points)
1) Change in choice of occupation
2) Change in income
3) Change in mercenary recruitment activities
4) Change in socio-political views and actions
5) Impact of future (promised) inputs
Primary Outcomes (explanation)
1) Change in choice of occupation: hours and days spend on agricultural and illicit activities.
2) Change in income: (i) net cash earnings in previous four weeks from each activity and (ii) durable assets from measures of land, housing quality, and small and large household assets
3) Change in mercenary recruitment activities: 16 self-reported measures of association with recruiting activities such as attending recruitment meetings or discussing war with peers.
1) Change in socio-political views and actions: effect on peer groups, risky social networks, anti-social behaviors, or community engagement and leadership. Each metric was quantified using indices of sub questions.
2) Impact of future (promised) inputs: The partner NGO was unable to deliver the animals promised to the graduates of the animal husbandry program on time as asked them to wait. If the men left the community or were away they would miss the animals. Whether the anticipation of the animals was enough to keep the men in the village instead of seeking employment in illicit ways was analyzed.

Secondary Outcomes

Secondary Outcomes (end points)
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)

Experimental Design

Experimental Design
The recruitment was done in communities in Bong and Sinoe counties which were hotspots of illicit activities. In each county the NGO first marketed the program and encouraged people to register. Persons who were younger than 18 years, disabled, non-Liberian, or low-risk were excluded from the sample. Some senior generals were automatically chosen as they were very high-risk thus they are not part of the randomized sample. The remaining participants were randomized to treatment and control groups.

Endline survey was conducted 14 months after the completion of training with participants being tracked down even if they moved from their communities. The resurvey rate was 91.3%.
Experimental Design Details
Randomization Method
To randomize the men, the researchers blocked by training site (Bong and Sinoe), rank, and community and, within blocks, assigned each person a uniform random variable and sorted in ascending order. Men were assigned to an offer to enter the program in this random order within blocks until a target number per block was reached. If a person refused or could not be located, they were assigned to treatment and the offer went to the next person on the list.
Randomization Unit
Individual men
Was the treatment clustered?
No

Experiment Characteristics

Sample size: planned number of clusters
Study not clustered
Sample size: planned number of observations
1,123 men
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
Treatment: 640 men
Control: 483 men
Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)
IRB

Institutional Review Boards (IRBs)

IRB Name
Yale University
IRB Approval Date
2009-05-27
IRB Approval Number
09050005219

Post-Trial

Post Trial Information

Study Withdrawal

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Intervention

Is the intervention completed?
Yes
Intervention Completion Date
February 28, 2010, 12:00 +00:00
Data Collection Complete
Yes
Data Collection Completion Date
June 30, 2011, 12:00 +00:00
Final Sample Size: Number of Clusters (Unit of Randomization)
Study not clustered
Was attrition correlated with treatment status?
No
Final Sample Size: Total Number of Observations
1,025 men
Final Sample Size (or Number of Clusters) by Treatment Arms
Treatment: 586 Control: 439
Reports, Papers & Other Materials

Relevant Paper(s)

Abstract
CAN EMPLOYMENT REDUCE LAWLESSNESS AND REBELLION? A FIELD EXPERIMENT WITH HIGH-RISK MEN IN A FRAGILE STATE

In fragile states, job programs are designed to deter high-risk men from crime and violence. These programs assume that supplying skills and capital stimulates lawful employment, that employment deters illegal or violent work, and that employment will increase socio-political integration. Rigorous, individual-level evidence for these assumptions is rare. We evaluate a program of agricultural training and capital for Liberian ex-fighters. The agricultural skills and capital increased returns to lawful employment. Consequently, the men were 24% less engaged with mercenary recruiters during a neighboring war. They also shifted hours from illicit work (e.g. illegal mining) to agriculture by 20%. Some men did not receive the capital inputs and expected a cash transfer instead. Expecting future transfers was especially influential in deterring illicit and mercenary work. We see no evidence, however, that employment affects nonmaterial violence or socio-political integration. The findings challenge strategies for employing and rehabilitating high-risk men.
Citation
Blattman, Christopher and Jeannie Annan. "Can Employment Reduce Lawlessness and Rebellion? A Field Experiment with High-Risk Men in a Fragile State." NBER Working Paper No. 21289, June 2015.

Reports & Other Materials