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Unilateral Facilitation Does Not Raise International Labor Migration from the Philippines
Last registered on April 12, 2017

Pre-Trial

Trial Information
General Information
Title
Unilateral Facilitation Does Not Raise International Labor Migration from the Philippines
RCT ID
AEARCTR-0001888
Initial registration date
April 12, 2017
Last updated
April 12, 2017 4:14 PM EDT
Location(s)
Primary Investigator
Affiliation
University of Vermont
Other Primary Investigator(s)
PI Affiliation
University of Michigan
PI Affiliation
World Bank
Additional Trial Information
Status
Completed
Start date
2010-03-01
End date
2013-05-31
Secondary IDs
Abstract
Significant income gains from migrating from poorer to richer countries have motivated unilateral (source-country) policies facilitating labor emigration. However, their effectiveness is unknown. We conducted a large-scale randomized experiment in the Philippines testing the impact of unilaterally facilitating international labor migration. Our most intensive treatment doubled the rate of job offers but had no identifiable effect on international labor migration. Even the highest overseas job-search rate we induced (22%) falls far short of the share initially expressing interest in migrating (34%). We conclude that unilateral migration facilitation will at most induce a trickle, not a flood, of additional emigration.
External Link(s)
Registration Citation
Citation
Beam, Emily, David McKenzie and Dean Yang. 2017. "Unilateral Facilitation Does Not Raise International Labor Migration from the Philippines." AEA RCT Registry. April 12. https://doi.org/10.1257/rct.1888-1.0.
Former Citation
Beam, Emily, David McKenzie and Dean Yang. 2017. "Unilateral Facilitation Does Not Raise International Labor Migration from the Philippines." AEA RCT Registry. April 12. https://www.socialscienceregistry.org/trials/1888/history/16501.
Sponsors & Partners

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Experimental Details
Interventions
Intervention(s)
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.
Intervention Start Date
2010-03-01
Intervention End Date
2011-08-31
Primary Outcomes
Primary Outcomes (end points)
Searched for an overseas job, Received an invitation to interview for a job, Attended a job interview, Received a job offer abroad, Migrated abroad
Primary Outcomes (explanation)
Secondary Outcomes
Secondary Outcomes (end points)
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)
Experimental Design
Experimental Design
To obtain the sample population, the PIs randomly selected 42 barangays from 6 municipalities in Sorsogan Province. A list of households from each barangay was collected and randomly sorted. Twenty-six percent of the households from each barangay were selected for the project by moving down the randomly sorted list. If a household could not be found, project interviewers moved on to the next household on the list. At each household, interviewers screened the first member they met who was aged 20-40 and had never worked overseas.

After completion of a baseline survey, respondents were randomized into four treatment groups and a control group, stratified by barangay and microfinance client status. Only the Application Information, Financial Information, and Website Assistance treatments were administered at the beginning of the intervention in 2010. In 2011, a subsample was randomly selected to receive the two passport treatments, stratified by baseline treatment, age, barangay, and whether they had enrolled in the jobs website. An endline survey was collected in 2012 by visiting the sample households again. If the members of the household could not be located, a "log survey" was collected by asking neighbors if the participants had migrated overseas for work at any point.

The PIs used an OLS specification. It included an indicator variable for treatment group, control variables for baseline characteristics, and stratification fixed-effects variables.
Experimental Design Details
Randomization Method
Randomization performed by computer; 42 barangays were randomly selected, then a list of households from each barangay was randomly sorted
Randomization Unit
Baseline: Household, stratified by barangay and microfinance client status
Passport treatments: Household, stratified by barangay, age, baseline treatment, and jobs website signup
Was the treatment clustered?
No
Experiment Characteristics
Sample size: planned number of clusters
42 barangays
Sample size: planned number of observations
4,153 respondents in baseline survey
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
Control group: 645 respondents; All Information treatment: 107 respondents; All information + website treatment: 280 respondents; Passport information and assistance treatment: 103 respondents; All information + Passport assistance treatment: 104 respondents; Full assistance treatment: 275 respondents
Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)
Supporting Documents and Materials

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IRB
INSTITUTIONAL REVIEW BOARDS (IRBs)
IRB Name
University of Michigan, Health Sciences and Behavioral Sciences Institutional Review Board
IRB Approval Date
Details not available
IRB Approval Number
HUM00034271
Post-Trial
Post Trial Information
Study Withdrawal
Intervention
Is the intervention completed?
Yes
Intervention Completion Date
August 31, 2011, 12:00 AM +00:00
Is data collection complete?
Yes
Data Collection Completion Date
April 30, 2013, 12:00 AM +00:00
Final Sample Size: Number of Clusters (Unit of Randomization)
3,802 respondents in endline survey
Was attrition correlated with treatment status?
No
Final Sample Size: Total Number of Observations
3,802 respondents in endline survey
Final Sample Size (or Number of Clusters) by Treatment Arms
Control group: 645 respondents; All Information treatment: 107 respondents; All information + website treatment: 280 respondents; Passport information and assistance treatment: 103 respondents; All information + Passport assistance treatment: 104 respondents; Full assistance treatment: 275 respondents
Data Publication
Data Publication
Is public data available?
No
Program Files
Program Files
Reports and Papers
Preliminary Reports
Relevant Papers
Abstract
Significant income gains from migrating from poorer to richer countries have motivated unilateral (source-country) policies facilitating labor emigration. However, their effectiveness is unknown. We conducted a large-scale randomized experiment in the Philippines testing the impact of unilaterally facilitating international labor migration. Our most intensive treatment doubled the rate of job offers but had no identifiable effect on international labor migration. Even the highest overseas job-search rate we induced (22%), falls far short of the share initially expressing interest in migrating (34%). We conclude that unilateral migration facilitation will at most induce a trickle, not a flood, of additional emigration.
Citation
Emily A. Beam, David McKenzie, and Dean Yang, "Unilateral Facilitation Does Not Raise International Labor Migration from the Philippines," Economic Development and Cultural Change 64, no. 2 (January 2016): 323-368.