Making Mentoring Work: A Field Experiment to Reduce Dropout in a Nationwide Mentoring Program for Disadvantaged Youths

Last registered on October 04, 2023


Trial Information

General Information

Making Mentoring Work: A Field Experiment to Reduce Dropout in a Nationwide Mentoring Program for Disadvantaged Youths
Initial registration date
October 04, 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, 5:08 PM EDT

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


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Primary Investigator

Technical University of Munich

Other Primary Investigator(s)

PI Affiliation
Technical University of Munich
PI Affiliation
ifo Institute
PI Affiliation
ifo Institute

Additional Trial Information

In development
Start date
End date
Secondary IDs
Prior work
This trial does not extend or rely on any prior RCTs.
Intergenerational inequality is a pressing issue in societies worldwide, with Germany ranking among the most unequal countries regarding the influence of family background on children’s educational success. Interventions targeted at disadvantaged children, such as mentoring programs, have been demonstrated to be effective in compensating for the lack of family support and improving life outcomes of disadvantaged children. One of the most significant and pervasive problems that hampers efficacy of mentoring programs is the breakdown of mentoring relationships during the course of the program. High dropout rates pose a significant challenge to the effectiveness of mentoring programs, particularly for vulnerable adolescents at risk of dropping out. However, strategies to counteract program dropout have not yet been studied systematically. We address this research gap through a field experiment with a one-to-one online mentoring program for disadvantaged youths. We randomly provide financial incentives to mentees if they successfully complete the first months of their mentoring-relationship.
External Link(s)

Registration Citation

Brosch, Hanna et al. 2023. "Making Mentoring Work: A Field Experiment to Reduce Dropout in a Nationwide Mentoring Program for Disadvantaged Youths." AEA RCT Registry. October 04.
Experimental Details


The mentoring program provides online one-to-one mentoring. Support for mentees consists of helping them identify their strengths and interests and advising them on their future careers plans. The main goal of the program is to enable the transition from secondary school to higher school tracks or to an apprenticeship. Both control and treatment mentoring pairs participate in the mentoring program. At the beginning of the mentoring relationship, mentees in the treatment group are informed that they will receive a voucher if they successfully complete the first 4 months of the mentoring program.
Intervention Start Date
Intervention End Date

Primary Outcomes

Primary Outcomes (end points)
Our primary outcomes are (i) Program Participation and (ii) Life Outcomes.
Primary Outcomes (explanation)
For our primary outcomes, we will use two indices that are a composite measure consisting of the following components:

(i) Program Participation
a. Relationship is still intact after 4 months (i.e., after incentivized period) and 12 months (i.e., after program completion)
b. Frequency and duration of mentoring meetings (during the first 4 months and between 4 and 12 months)

(ii) Life Outcomes
a. School grades
b. Non-cognitive skills (e.g., patience, social skills)
c. Labor-market orientation

The indices are our main outcomes in our analyses to minimize measurement error. In robustness analyses, we will additionally analyze the individual components.

Secondary Outcomes

Secondary Outcomes (end points)
We further plan to perform heterogeneity analyses with respect to (i) mentees’ prior motivation to participate in the mentoring program and (ii) mentees’ socioeconomic status. We will also study treatment effects on variables capturing possible channels, like mentees’ attitudes towards the mentoring program.
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)

Experimental Design

Experimental Design
We conduct a randomized field experiment in which mentoring-pairs are randomly as-signed to treatment or control group. The starting date for our field experiment is 2024-01-01, conditional on funding approval. Prior to the starting date, we pilot our experiment to ensure data quality. If the data quality is given, we include the observations in the main data set.
Experimental Design Details
Not available
Randomization Method
Randomization done in office by a computer
Randomization Unit
Individual randomization (mentoring-pair level)
Was the treatment clustered?

Experiment Characteristics

Sample size: planned number of clusters
1,000 mentoring pairs
Sample size: planned number of observations
1,000 mentoring pairs, 1/2 (app. 500) will be assigned to each of the two experimental groups.
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
1,000 mentoring pairs, 1/2 (app. 500) will be assigned to each of the two experimental groups.
Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)

Institutional Review Boards (IRBs)

IRB Name
Ethics Commission, Department of Economics, University of Munich
IRB Approval Date
IRB Approval Number