Gains from international migration can be large for both the migrant, in the form of higher wages, and for the home country, in the form of remittances. However, there is less international migration than might be expected given the large gains possible. The PIs conducted a randomized controlled trial to test whether a set of unilateral facilitation policies increased international migration for work from Sorsogon Province in the Philippines. The Philippines is one of the largest sources of overseas migrant labor; however, the Sorsogon Province has low levels of migration relative to the country as a whole, despite having a comparably qualified population.
The intervention consisted of five treatments applied individually or in combination. The first treatment, "Application Information", consisted of information on typical overseas costs, steps to apply for work abroad, an advertisement for a jobs website, and warning signs of illegal recruitment. The second, "Financial Information", listed typical placement fees and companies which provided loans to cover them. The third, "Website Assistance", consisted of a paper application for an overseas jobs website, built specifically for this project. The fourth, "Passport Information", consisted of a flier on the importance of having, and the steps required to obtain, a passport. The fifth, "Passport Assistance", consisted of a letter inviting recipients to apply for a program which fully subsidized the costs of acquiring a passport and provided assistance during the application process.
In total, the treatments were administered together or separately to create fourteen different treatment groups and a control group. The PIs focused their analysis in particular on five treatment groups: "All Information" (Application, Financial, and Passport Information treatments), "All Information + Website", "Only Passport" (Passport Information and Assistance treatments), "All Information + Passport" (Application, Financial, Passport Information, and Passport Assistance treatments), and "Full Assistance" (all treatments). Overall, the PIs found that informational constraints are not a significant barrier to international labor migration, and that job matching assistance through a jobs website increases job-search effort and the likelihood of obtaining a job interview. However, not even the full treatment statistically increased migration itself.