Barriers to Human Capital Investment: The Role of Beliefs

Last registered on May 09, 2024


Trial Information

General Information

Barriers to Human Capital Investment: The Role of Beliefs
Initial registration date
April 26, 2024

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
May 09, 2024, 1:47 PM EDT

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



Primary Investigator

University of Birmingham

Other Primary Investigator(s)

PI Affiliation
University of Turku
PI Affiliation
PI Affiliation

Additional Trial Information

On going
Start date
End date
Secondary IDs
Prior work
This trial does not extend or rely on any prior RCTs.
Despite potentially high gains in terms of labour market outcomes, the demand for vocational training programs remains low in France, in particular for young and low-educated people. Since the 2008 economic crisis, the French government implemented numerous campaigns to provide and finance high-quality training places, inform jobseekers, and motivate them to participate. Despite these efforts, the entry rate into training programs for jobseekers has been consistently around 10% since 2010. In cooperation with the French Public Employment Service (France Travail), we develop light-touch, scalable interventions to directly address the barriers to training enrollment. In a preparatory step, we administered a survey to 20,048 jobseekers to comprehensively study the barriers preventing individuals from taking up vocational training. The key emerging finding is the importance of beliefs: Jobseekers view the direct costs of training as the biggest external obstacle to take-up, but they simultaneously hold pessimistic beliefs about the availability of funding. In addition, we find evidence that jobseekers may be constrained by their beliefs about themselves, and in particular about their ability to achieve desirable outcomes and overcome obstacles. Such beliefs are referred to as “self-efficacy” in the psychology literature (Bandura 1977), and have recently gained traction in economics (McKelway 2020, John and Orkin 2021, Ghosal et al. 2020). We design and test four interventions aimed at changing jobseekers’ beliefs, using different versions of a training support app.
External Link(s)

Registration Citation

Crépon, Bruno et al. 2024. "Barriers to Human Capital Investment: The Role of Beliefs." AEA RCT Registry. May 09.
Experimental Details


We develop four versions of a training support app, designed to change and correct jobseekers' beliefs. The apps are offered to jobseekers with an interest in vocational training, but who have so far not enrolled in training.
Intervention Start Date
Intervention End Date

Primary Outcomes

Primary Outcomes (end points)
See PAP for detailed outcome list.
Primary Outcomes (explanation)

Secondary Outcomes

Secondary Outcomes (end points)
See PAP for detailed outcome list.
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)

Experimental Design

Experimental Design
We recruit jobseekers registered with the French public employment service, and who have previously expressed an initial interest in vocational training to their caseworker (or alternatively, where the caseworker has determined that training would be beneficial). Jobseekers receive an invitation by email to sign up for a mobile platform which will accompany them in the process of researching vocational training options, completing the necessary steps to apply for financing, and enrolling in training. Basic information about this administrative process is given in all four treatments. The pure control group receives no further information. An active control group controls for platform features designed to increase user engagement. The two active treatments are designed to target jobseekers beliefs.
Experimental Design Details
Not available
Randomization Method
Randomization is done by the online survey software (Qualtrics) when completing the baseline survey.
Randomization Unit
Was the treatment clustered?

Experiment Characteristics

Sample size: planned number of clusters
Sample size: planned number of observations
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
175 jobseekers in each of four groups: pure control, placebo control, and two belief treatments
Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)

Institutional Review Boards (IRBs)

IRB Name
Paris School of Economics (PSE) IRB
IRB Approval Date
IRB Approval Number
Analysis Plan

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