The Roles of Information and Search Frictions in Determining Working Conditions in Bangladesh’s Apparel Sector

Last registered on October 11, 2023


Trial Information

General Information

The Roles of Information and Search Frictions in Determining Working Conditions in Bangladesh’s Apparel Sector
Initial registration date
September 29, 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
October 04, 2023, 4:52 PM EDT

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

Last updated
October 11, 2023, 6:37 PM EDT

Last updated is the most recent time when changes to the trial's registration were published.



Primary Investigator

Columbia University

Other Primary Investigator(s)

PI Affiliation
University of Washington
PI Affiliation
BRAC Institute of Governance and Development

Additional Trial Information

On going
Start date
End date
Secondary IDs
Prior work
This trial does not extend or rely on any prior RCTs.
The emergence of low-skill manufacturing sectors in developing countries can provide economic benefits, especially for women, but working conditions are often difficult. We propose a cluster RCT to experimentally investigate whether information and search frictions in Bangladesh’s labor market contribute to inefficient matching between garment workers and firms. We will use data from a baseline household survey to measure working conditions and wages across garment factories in local labor markets. We will then provide this information on job characteristics, job openings, or both, and assess the impacts of these treatments on workers’ beliefs about working conditions (and wages) in garment factories nearby to their home, mobility, wages, and working conditions.
External Link(s)

Registration Citation

Ahmed, Md. Shakil, Laura Boudreau and Rachel Heath. 2023. "The Roles of Information and Search Frictions in Determining Working Conditions in Bangladesh’s Apparel Sector." AEA RCT Registry. October 11.
Experimental Details


There are 4 experimental conditions:
1. Scorecard: Workers are provided a scorecard with information about working conditions, wages, and travel distances for factories within 5 km of their neighborhood.
2. Vacancies: Worker a provided a pamphlet with information about job vacancies in factories within 5 km of their neighborhood.
3. Scorecard and Vacancies: Worker receives both (1) and (2).
4. Control: Worker does not receive information.

For the scorecard, because there is no publicly data available on working conditions in a representative sample of garment factories, we began with a survey, representative at the geographic level (“representative survey” henceforth), that asked workers about working conditions in their factories. We took information about working conditions and wages from this survey and turned this into an overall measure of working conditions and wages in the factories for the scorecard treatment.

Our vacancy information is collected via interviews with HR managers in partnership with our research partner BRAC Centre for Entrepreneurship Development (CED) which has extensive experience collecting data from managers at factories. We then collate this information into a pamphlet of all open vacancies at surveyed factories within 5 kilometers of the neighborhood for the vacancy treatment.

Both the scorecard and the pamphlet referenced a hotline number that participants can call for more information.
Intervention Start Date
Intervention End Date

Primary Outcomes

Primary Outcomes (end points)
1. Belief about quality of non-pecuniary job aspects of baseline factory relative to other factories within a 60-minute walk of participant's home.
2. Total monthly earnings.
3. Job quality index [for participants employed in garments sector].
4. Mobility (a binary variable measuring whether the participant has changed jobs in the previous month).
Primary Outcomes (explanation)
See PAP for measurement details.

Secondary Outcomes

Secondary Outcomes (end points)
1. Belief about wages of baseline factory relative to other factories within a 60-minute walk of participant's home.
2. Job search: A binary variable measuring whether the participant has searched for jobs in the prior month.
3. Mental health: An index of mental health survey questions (Generalized Anxiety Disorder 7-item (GAD-7) scale)).
4. Travel time to respondent’s workplace (among the sample of participants who work in a factory in the MiB list, we can triangulate these reports with distance from their house using the geolocation data from MiB).
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)
See PAP for measurement details.

Experimental Design

Experimental Design
We randomly assign participants to 1 of the 4 different treatment conditions described above.

Prior to conducting the experimental interventions, we conducted a baseline survey with experimental participants. We will conduct follow-up surveys after 1, 2, 3, and 6 months to measure participants’ employment outcomes.
Experimental Design Details
Not available
Randomization Method
The randomization is done by a computer.
Randomization Unit
The unit of randomization is a “neighborhood.” In this study, "neighborhood" does not connote a community; we define a "neighborhood" as a circle of Bangladesh's surface area with a radius of 0.5 kilometers (km). We implement a stratified randomization by geographic area (Gazipur, Savar, or Narayanganj), above/below median average beliefs about working conditions at the worker's factory compared to other factories nearby, above/below median count of factories within 5 km of the neighborhood, and above/below median count of eligible workers in the neighborhood cluster.
Was the treatment clustered?

Experiment Characteristics

Sample size: planned number of clusters
270 neighborhoods.
Sample size: planned number of observations
Wave 1: 2,821. Wave 2: 1,620. Total: 4,441.
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
Control: 83 neighborhoods.
Vacancies: 62 neighborhoods.
Scorecard: 63 neighborhoods.
Vacancies and scorecard: 62 neighborhoods.
Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)

Institutional Review Boards (IRBs)

IRB Name
BRAC James P Grant School of Public Health Institutional Review Board
IRB Approval Date
IRB Approval Number
IRB-19 March'23-008
IRB Name
Columbia University Human Research Protection Office Institutional Review Boards
IRB Approval Date
IRB Approval Number
Analysis Plan

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