Pre-departure Interventions for Migrant Domestic Workers

Last registered on November 27, 2023


Trial Information

General Information

Pre-departure Interventions for Migrant Domestic Workers
Initial registration date
February 13, 2019

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
February 15, 2019, 4:09 PM EST

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

Last updated
November 27, 2023, 7:43 AM EST

Last updated is the most recent time when changes to the trial's registration were published.



Primary Investigator

University of Munich

Other Primary Investigator(s)

PI Affiliation
University of St. Andrews
PI Affiliation
Asian Institute of Management
PI Affiliation
Georgetown University
PI Affiliation
University of Michigan

Additional Trial Information

Start date
End date
Secondary IDs
Prior work
This trial does not extend or rely on any prior RCTs.
This trial studies the impact of four pre-departure interventions for migrant domestic workers from the Philippines. Interventions take place about two weeks before migrants depart for the destination country. The study is based on 2,000 female domestic workers bound for Hong Kong and Saudi Arabia.

First, the "gift and photo" intervention encourages migrants to introduce themselves to the employer with a small gift that we provide and to show a family picture. The intervention aims at improving the treatment of the domestic worker by her employer.

Second, a short savings module and third, regular savings reminders aim at improving financial decision making and encourage migrants to save the targeted share of income.

Fourth, an intervention where experienced domestic workers share their experiences, problems faced, and suggestions to overcome these problems aims at managing expectations, faster adjustment, and overall higher well-being.
External Link(s)

Registration Citation

Barsbai, Toman et al. 2023. "Pre-departure Interventions for Migrant Domestic Workers." AEA RCT Registry. November 27.
Former Citation
Barsbai, Toman et al. 2023. "Pre-departure Interventions for Migrant Domestic Workers." AEA RCT Registry. November 27.
Sponsors & Partners

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Experimental Details


Gift and photo intervention

At the end of the baseline interview, domestic workers assigned to this intervention are given a pack of dried mangoes (a specialty in the Philippines) and are encouraged to give them as a small introductory gift to their employer’s family. They are also encouraged to show a family photo (including the domestic worker) to signal to the employer’s family that the DW is a human being with a family and a personal background too. This intervention also signals the DW’s good intentions for the relationship with the employer. Specific instructions provide guidance for avoiding cross-cultural misunderstandings (e.g., by showing a picture where family members are dressed too lightly).

The intervention is motivated by the observation that many former domestic workers report that they are treated very poorly by members of the employer’s household and that they are not respected as human beings. The intervention aims to affect the relationship between DW and the employer by changing the starting situation and thereby creating a different trajectory of the relationship. In particular, the intervention aims at portraying DWs as human beings with a family and friends in the Philippines.

Experience sharing

Experienced domestic workers share their experiences, problems faced, ways of coping with problems, etc. The information in the experience sharing intervention is grouped around 3 themes: work experiences (including hours worked, specific concerns such as the large size of houses to be cleaned and number of family members served, hours of rest/sleep etc.), relationships with the employer (including cross-cultural communications, salary issues, food issues, etc.) and relationship with the families left behind. This first-hand experience sharing is meant to increase the credibility of the content. This intervention tries to manage expectations regarding what the DWs will face when they actually work abroad and provide them with strategies to cope with potential problems.

Savings module

The new savings module to be evaluated is comprehensive and focuses only on a few messages. In terms of content, the module offers direct guidance on a) prioritizing and distinguishing between expenditures that are needs and those that are merely wants, b) creating a joint financial plan with their family prior to departure, including the amount and use of remittances, c) an exercise in making a budget with a template showing how much money should be saved to reach a specific savings goal after two years, d) the importance of keeping some savings in a bank directly under the control of the DW. The pedagogy is interactive, e.g. using role-play to illustrate how to deal with financial requests from relatives and neighbors, and asking DWs who have already had experience working abroad to share the financial results of their time abroad and lessons learned. A short comics-style handout that DWs can bring with them to use as a reminder is also provided.

Savings reminder

Regularly sent text messages encouraging migrants to save the targeted share of their income. Due to logistical challenges of updating cellphone numbers, this intervention is carried out only for a small subsample.
Intervention Start Date
Intervention End Date

Primary Outcomes

Primary Outcomes (end points)
Gift and photo intervention: treatment of domestic workers by the employer, subjective wellbeing
Experience sharing: Managing expectations regarding conditions abroad leads to faster adjustment, better work performance, higher employer satisfaction, better treatment, higher sense of wellbeing
Savings module: increase in savings, involvement of the family in financial planning
Savings reminder: increase in savings
Primary Outcomes (explanation)

Secondary Outcomes

Secondary Outcomes (end points)
see analysis plan
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)

Experimental Design

Experimental Design
Baseline interviews are conducted immediately before a mandatory pre-departure training for domestic workers. The training usually takes place a few weeks before departure. The assignment of the gift and photo intervention takes place during the baseline interview. The intervention is randomly assigned with 50% probability at the individual level and the randomization is independent of the randomization at the group level.

Group-level interventions (savings module and experience sharing) are randomized at the classroom level. Any class is either assigned to none or any of the two group-level interventions. No class is assigned to both.

Savings reminders are randomly assigned at a later point in time for the subsample for which a cellphone number is available.
Experimental Design Details
see analysis plan
Randomization Method
Randomization is done beforehand using a Stata algorithm based on available registration lists.
Randomization Unit
The gift and photo intervention is randomized at the individual level. A savings module and experience sharing by former domestic workers were randomized at the classroom level. Savings reminders are randomly assigned at the individual level at a later point in time for the subsample for which a cellphone number is available.
Was the treatment clustered?

Experiment Characteristics

Sample size: planned number of clusters
210 classrooms
Sample size: planned number of observations
2000 migrant domestic workers (1200 going to KSA, 800 going to Hong Kong)
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
Gift and photo 1000 individuals assigned to treatment, 1000 assigned to control
Experience sharing and savings module: 55 classrooms assigned to the savings module, 27 assigned to experience sharing (KSA only), 128 assigned to control
Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)
Supporting Documents and Materials

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Institutional Review Boards (IRBs)

IRB Name
IRB Approval Date
IRB Approval Number
Analysis Plan

Analysis Plan Documents

OWWA wave 2 PAP

MD5: 0ea14f5c622c3348b86de935c6afff93

SHA1: a53882192d8d1ddef535c3da8ee1e7fe93b2dcb3

Uploaded At: February 01, 2019

OWWA wave 3 PAP

MD5: 9ca9c475afd1b2733902d8ff0a4a1bbd

SHA1: 15470336fb09a12024b2c9cf93ab7ab795cd1c53

Uploaded At: February 01, 2019

Wave 3 PAP registration with 3ie (June 2016)

MD5: 74541f8cfa89bcb2f02885cc19a3c9f6

SHA1: 1692a8dce6b6a6232caf608e8c0d601cc624b464

Uploaded At: February 01, 2019

Wave 2 PAP registration with 3ie (April 2015)

MD5: acb17dd4ff966374e688e4485a9ebece

SHA1: 13848d7419d6d807152e7114bad4b50452634f30

Uploaded At: February 01, 2019


Post Trial Information

Study Withdrawal

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Is the intervention completed?
Data Collection Complete
Data Publication

Data Publication

Is public data available?

Program Files

Program Files
Reports, Papers & Other Materials

Relevant Paper(s)

Reports & Other Materials