Reducing Mistreatment of Migrant Domestic Workers
Last registered on February 24, 2019

Pre-Trial

Trial Information
General Information
Title
Reducing Mistreatment of Migrant Domestic Workers
RCT ID
AEARCTR-0003788
Initial registration date
February 22, 2019
Last updated
February 24, 2019 7:40 PM EST
Location(s)
Region
Region
Region
Primary Investigator
Affiliation
University of Munich
Other Primary Investigator(s)
PI Affiliation
University of Michigan
PI Affiliation
Georgetown University
PI Affiliation
University of Munich
PI Affiliation
Asian Institute of Management
PI Affiliation
University of St. Andrews
Additional Trial Information
Status
In development
Start date
2019-02-25
End date
2019-04-01
Secondary IDs
Abstract
This project investigates whether Filipino migrant domestic workers are treated better by their employers in Saudi Arabia and Hong Kong after an intervention that suggested them to bring a small gift and to show a family photo to their prospective employer during their first meeting. The first part of this study (originally registered with the funding agency 3ie) found these positive effects (also in a revealed-preference way). In the second part, we use an incentivized online experiment with representative samples of upper- and middle-income populations of Saudi Arabia and Hong Kong. Participants ("employers") can redistribute money between themselves and Filipinas. The games allow us to study both pro- and anti-social behavior. Before their decisions, participating Filipinas either reveal 1) no additional information about themselves, 2) they show photos of their families, 3) they send a small online gift, or 4) both. We also examine if the effect differs when the gift or photo are presented during the first round, or during a second round, two weeks later. To separate mechanisms, we also introduce a default allocation of money in the redistribution games. In the second round, we also measure changes in implicit associations using a single-target Implicit Association Test.
External Link(s)
Registration Citation
Citation
Barsbai, Toman et al. 2019. "Reducing Mistreatment of Migrant Domestic Workers." AEA RCT Registry. February 24. https://doi.org/10.1257/rct.3788-1.0.
Former Citation
Barsbai, Toman et al. 2019. "Reducing Mistreatment of Migrant Domestic Workers." AEA RCT Registry. February 24. https://www.socialscienceregistry.org/trials/3788/history/41996.
Experimental Details
Interventions
Intervention(s)
This is the description of the intervention in the second part of the project. We use an incentivized online experiment with representative samples of upper- and middle-income populations of Saudi Arabia and Hong Kong. Participants ("employers") can redistribute money between themselves and Filipinas. The games allow us to study both pro- and anti-social behavior. Before their decisions, participating Filipinas either reveal 1) no additional information about themselves, 2) they show photos of their families, 3) they send a small online gift, or 4) both. We also examine if the effect differs when the gift or photo are presented during the first round, or during a second round, two weeks later. To separate mechanisms, we also introduce a default allocation of money in the redistribution games. In the second round, we also measure changes in implicit associations using a single-target Implicit Association Test.
Intervention Start Date
2019-02-25
Intervention End Date
2019-04-01
Primary Outcomes
Primary Outcomes (end points)
Dictator game transfer : amount shared with a Filipina
Primary Outcomes (explanation)
Secondary Outcomes
Secondary Outcomes (end points)
6 binary dictator games; Single-target Implicit Association Test; survey questions asking about treatment of a hypothetical Filipino domestic worker; survey question asking about general perceptions of Filipinos
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)
Experimental Design
Experimental Design
The incentivized online experiment with individuals from Saudi Arabia and Hong Kong aims to understand the behavioral change in individuals in response to the treatment in the first part of the project, where the treatment bundles together several potential mechanisms. We identify three channels through which the treatment effect might occur:
1) feeling of reciprocal obligations by the employers,
2) decreased social distance between employers and domestic workers (DWs),
3) and employers’ increased moral cost of causing harm to DWs.
These channels should result either in more altruistic feeling of employers towards the DWs and/or lead to reduced antisocial behavior. We also hypothesize that kind actions at the first instance of an interaction promote kind reciprocal behavior from the other party, relative to when the kind action only comes at a later stage.
Experimental Design Details
The incentivized online experiment with families from Saudi Arabia and Hong Kong aims to understand the behavioral change in individuals in response to the treatment in the RCT, where the treatment bundles together several potential mechanisms. We identify three channels through which the treatment effect might occur: 1) feeling of reciprocal obligations by the employers, 2) decreased social distance between employers and domestic workers (DWs), 3) and employers’ increased moral cost of causing harm to DWs. These channels should result either in more altruistic feeling of employers towards the DWs and/or lead to reduced antisocial behavior. We also hypothesize that kind actions at the first instance of an interaction promote kind reciprocal behavior from the other party, relative to when the kind action only comes at a later stage. We cannot merely learn from existing laboratory experiments, since while earlier literature has established that reciprocity and reduced social distance both enhance immediate prosociality towards individuals, it does not examine persistence of these effects and spillovers on other members of the same group (only Gneezy and List 2006 or Kube et al. 2012 document some short term persistence of response to gifts). Also, extrapolating and generalizing results from laboratory settings with undergraduate students can be misleading in the particular setting we study, where social norms guiding interactions of employers and DWs have been long established and hence guide individual behavior. Games We will use incentivized experiments typically used in a laboratory that closely resemble the situation of Filipino domestic workers in Saudi Arabia and in Hong Kong: 1) the bargaining power is heavily skewed towards the employers, 2) the interaction is of fairly long duration but one-shot (one employment contract, assuming away possibility of reemployment as getting a new domestic worker is not more costly than prolonging a contract with a new one), and 3) there is a possibility for the domestic worker to send a signal to the employer at the first instance of their interaction: either through giving him or her a small gift (with no substantial monetary value but with a positive intrinsic value), or through increasing familiarity and reducing social distance by presenting a picture of their family. The signal is expected to induce employers to behave more prosocially towards the workers and employers’ moral cost of harmful action towards the domestic workers should increase. We will use two games: a dictator game with a restricted budget set and an adapted version of two modified dictator games used in Fehr et al. (2008) and Bauer et al. (2014). Unlike in their case, we will not use two binary games, but rather we make the choice space “more continuous” by having multiple choices per category. In each game, a sender has to select between two alternative allocations of tokens for him/herself and the receiver. Dictator game The dictator game allows the sender to redistribute US$20 between him/herself and the receiver. The sender can then allocate anything between US$0 and US$10 units in increments of US$1 to the receiver using a slider bar. Manipulating default endowment allocation (orthogonal to treatment) Further, we will randomly manipulate whether the initial allocation on the slider bar starts at (20,0)—i.e. all for the sender and nothing for the sender—or whether it starts at an egalitarian split (10,10), allowing for “taking away from the receiver”. Although the choice space is theoretically equivalent, the framing results in different norms associated with the redistributive choices (Krupka and Weber, 2013; Cox et al., 2016). While a distribution (15,5) is perceived as rather generous gift of US$5 in the former game, taking US$5 away from the receiver in the latter game, is perceived as rather nasty. As such, we will manipulate the moral cost of harmful behavior independent of the role of social distance and reciprocity. Measure: inequality aversion (Bolton and Ockenfels 2000; Fehr and Schmidt 1999) or altruism vs. selfishness; no efficiency concerns. Does not capture harming in any other way than not sharing. Binary games The senders will make choices in a series of binary games. The order of the games will be randomized. The games will be as follows: One of the options will be fixed at (10,10) in every game. The other option will change across games as follows: (11,13), (10,8), (9,6), (8,4), (7,2), (6,0). The (11,13) option allows us to separate efficiency maximizers and altruists from egalitarians. The fewer (10,10) in the remaining games, the more willing to harm. Measures: on top of inequality aversion, altruism and selfishness it adds efficiency concerns (Charness and Rabin 2002) and antisocial/spiteful behavior (Herrman et al., 2008). The simple setting gives us an opportunity to manipulate the default option: either the (10,10) option is selected as a default or the alternative is chosen. The options are presented such that the selected option is presented at the left part of the screen. This option will again be useful in separating the role of moral costs from the role of social distance and reciprocity. This section discusses the procedure of the experiment for the dictators. In the first round, there will be two parts. The first part will ask basic demographic questions and questions related to the experience of the individual with employment of domestic workers (if, and if so, for how long and of which nationality). It will also ask few general questions about the regulations related to employment of domestic workers. Lastly, it will ask a question about which two nationalities do the largest groups of domestic workers in their country have. The second part consists of the actual choices in dictator games. One of the treatments is implemented. The order of the games is randomized and the ordering is recorded. The second round is different and its purpose is to determine whether the first round treatment has 1) persistent effects, 2) whether there the “first impressions” effect matters, and 3) whether it affects attitudes towards Filipinos in general. It starts immediately with choices in the same dictator games. The dictators are again matched with the same Filipina as in the first round. They will be told that “you are matched with the same person as last week”. After their dictator game choices, the dictators will be asked to take part in a single-target implicit association test testing their subconscious attitudes towards Filipinas (See Lowes et al. 2015; note that the set of photos will consist of photos of the Filipinas, including the matched one; although with lower precision, we will be able to elicit attitudes towards the specific individuals). To further elicit attitudes towards Filipinos in general, we will also ask a question related to social distance of the dictators and Filipinos inspired by a question on “views of Filipinos” as in Lowes et al. (2015): “In which of the following ways do you view Filipino people: very positively, somewhat positively, neutral, somewhat negatively or very negatively?”
Randomization Method
Randomization done in office by a computer.
Randomization Unit
Individual level (participants in an online survey).
Was the treatment clustered?
No
Experiment Characteristics
Sample size: planned number of clusters
We recruit 1200 KSA and 1200 HK first round participants in the role of “senders” using survey companies in KSA and HK. We expect a final sample of 1001 KSA and 1001 HK participants completing both rounds. The only sampling criteria is that 1) individuals are locals and of middle/high income bracket, and we will have 2) males and females in the same proportion. The companies will incentivize the participants using the existing incentive schemes they use. The bonus points are equivalent to money.
Sample size: planned number of observations
2002 individuals (1001 in HK, 1001 in KSA)
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
Control treatment: 143 in HK, 143 in KSA
Gift treatment round 1: 143 in HK, 143 in KSA
Gift treatment round 2: 143 in HK, 143 in KSA
Photo treatment round 1: 143 in HK, 143 in KSA
Photo treatment round 2: 143 in HK, 143 in KSA
Gift + photo treatment round 1: 143 in HK, 143 in KSA
Gift + photo treatment round 2: 143 in HK, 143 in KSA
Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)
Given the estimated sample size of around 286 individuals per treatment, SD of 1.7 found in a meta-study of dictator games (rounded), and an average dictator game transfer of 30% (again, rounded) assumed as a control mean, we would be able to detect a change of at least 3 percent of the control mean at alpha=0.05 and beta=0.8 using a two-means comparison test. Assuming SD=1.7 and the parameters above, the sample size allows us to detect changes of 0.33 of SD even when we restrict our analysis to subsamples of respective countries.
Supporting Documents and Materials

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IRB
INSTITUTIONAL REVIEW BOARDS (IRBs)
IRB Name
University of Munich IRB
IRB Approval Date
2019-02-22
IRB Approval Number
2018-11
Analysis Plan

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Post-Trial
Post Trial Information
Study Withdrawal
Intervention
Is the intervention completed?
No
Is data collection complete?
Data Publication
Data Publication
Is public data available?
No
Program Files
Program Files
Reports and Papers
Preliminary Reports
Relevant Papers