Testing the Random Utility Model in Migration: Evidence from Lab-in-the-field-experiments
Last registered on June 10, 2019


Trial Information
General Information
Testing the Random Utility Model in Migration: Evidence from Lab-in-the-field-experiments
Initial registration date
June 05, 2019
Last updated
June 10, 2019 10:00 PM EDT

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Primary Investigator
University of Luxembourg
Other Primary Investigator(s)
PI Affiliation
University of Luxembourg
PI Affiliation
University of Luxembourg
Additional Trial Information
In development
Start date
End date
Secondary IDs
According to the (World Bank, 2016), the stock of immigrants worldwide in 2013, amounted to
247.2 million individuals. This represents 3.4% of the world population. Geographic mobility of
people plays an important role in the world labor market equilibrium.
An important part of the literature investigates migration motives using data about actual migration flows, (e.g. Beine, et al. 2016). These data, however, do not allow to fully understand migration decision strategies. Observed movements of migrants
indeed result from a complex set of intertwined mechanisms: migration intentions, self-selection
and out-selection factors. Evaluating the role of one of these factors, therefore, requires a deep
understanding of the underlying mechanisms behind each of these components.
One possible way to overcome the limitation associated with the use of actual migration data is to
use data that capture directly migration intentions. We propose a novel methodology capturing a full set of “ex-ante” alternatives which might be used later on to study the way individuals form decisions. Through laboratory experiments, we will test empirically
the relevance of alternative destinations and the order of preferences related to the migration
decision. A very interesting by-product of such an approach is the evaluation of the well-known
the validity of the Independence of Irrelevant Alternatives (IIA) hypothesis, which is at the core of the
RUM models of international migration
External Link(s)
Registration Citation
Beine, Michel , Arnaud Dupuy and Majlinda Joxhe. 2019. "Testing the Random Utility Model in Migration: Evidence from Lab-in-the-field-experiments." AEA RCT Registry. June 10. https://www.socialscienceregistry.org/trials/4282/history/47846
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Experimental Details
The project will rely on lab-in-the-field experimental settings with micro-founded migration theories in order to provide an
empirical test of the RUM models. The data will allow testing whether the RUM approach provides
a structure consistent with ex-ante choices of individuals and to evaluate the validity of its
assumptions such as the IIA. We will use laboratory games to be played in the field. In these
games, participants will be asked to make decisions given some hypothetical situations. Artificial
counterfactual pre-migration situations will be created in order to get detailed information on
individual’s pre-departure choices. In the investigation of the IIA hypothesis: we will test whether
the ranking of individuals’ location choices is affected by the set of possible choices.
The fieldwork will be conducted in a small country, Albania, which provides an ideal case study
for our purpose. Albania is still considered a low-middle-income country with a GDP per capita
around 4078$ per year. It has a history of out-migration starting from 1990 onwards, with a net
emigration rate averaging 3% since 2004, which is substantial by international standards
(www.indexmundi.com). The study will evaluate how pre-migration information will
change the migration intentions and the ranking of the preferred destinations. In order to do so,
we introduce in the survey some country attributes considered to be essential in the decision to migrate.
Intervention Start Date
Intervention End Date
Primary Outcomes
Primary Outcomes (end points)
IIA Hypothesis validation.
How much the pre-information changes the migration intentions.
Primary Outcomes (explanation)
Secondary Outcomes
Secondary Outcomes (end points)
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)
Experimental Design
Experimental Design
The sample of our study will be created through a random interception of the subjects who will be
first informed about the study. We will employ a randomized experiment to overcome selection
biases and to identify the causal impact of the different scenarios proposed in the games.
Experimental Design Details
Not available
Randomization Method
Randomization done in the office by computer.
Randomization Unit
Was the treatment clustered?
Experiment Characteristics
Sample size: planned number of clusters
Sample size: planned number of observations
1000 individuals
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)
IRB Name
EEthics Review Panel of the University of Luxembourg
IRB Approval Date
IRB Approval Number
ERP 19-010)