From Workfare to Work and Economic Well-being: A Randomized Control Trial of Labor-Intensive Public Works for the Urban Poor in Eastern DRC

Last registered on April 03, 2021


Trial Information

General Information

From Workfare to Work and Economic Well-being: A Randomized Control Trial of Labor-Intensive Public Works for the Urban Poor in Eastern DRC
Initial registration date
October 29, 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
October 29, 2019, 9:45 AM EDT

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

Last updated
April 03, 2021, 4:10 PM EDT

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


Primary Investigator

Duke University

Other Primary Investigator(s)

PI Affiliation
University of Antwerp
PI Affiliation
New York University-AD
PI Affiliation
KU Leuven and the Inter-American Development Bank
PI Affiliation
Paris School of Economics
PI Affiliation
The World Bank Group

Additional Trial Information

Start date
End date
Secondary IDs
The World Bank supports efforts to end conflict and realize economic recovery in Eastern DRC through the Productive Opportunities for Stabilization and Recovery in the DRC (STEP, in its French acronym) program. STEP notably contains a labor-intensive public works (LIPW) component, sought to increase resilience and livelihoods in five major cities in Eastern DRC. This paper analyses the impact of the LIPW component by leveraging a randomized impact evaluation of key STEP components. The project, implemented by the Social Fund of DRC (FSRDC), offered short-term employment to the urban poor, along with additional benefits created in order to make a lasting impact (namely an incentivized-savings scheme and vocational training). This study seeks to produce rigorous evidence on the post-program labor market and economic welfare outcomes.
External Link(s)

Registration Citation

Smets, Lodewijk et al. 2021. "From Workfare to Work and Economic Well-being: A Randomized Control Trial of Labor-Intensive Public Works for the Urban Poor in Eastern DRC." AEA RCT Registry. April 03.
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Experimental Details


The urban LIPW component created short-term employment opportunities in five major cities in Eastern DRC: Beni, Butembo, Goma, Bukavu and Bunia. Local NGOs – under the supervision of the FSRDC – offered temporary employment to implement activities such as road rehabilitation, street cleaning or garbage collection. In each of the cities, a sensitization campaign was launched to announce the program. The LIPW programs – implemented on a rolling basis – were designed to target the urban poor through two mechanisms: first, self-targeting based on the minimum wage and, second, geographic targeting of the most deprived neighborhoods in each of the five cities. Any resident from a targeted neighborhood was eligible to receive project benefits as long as he/she was willing to work for the set wage – the country’s minimum wage of 3USD a day – and apt for physical labor. As designed, the project offered all selected beneficiaries with a full-time work for around 4 months, paid at minimum wage (3USD/day) as well as soft-skills training (health at work, cooperation, etc.) aiming to prepare efficient teamwork.

In order to make the impact last, the project offered two additional activities: 1) an incentivized-savings scheme, and 2) a training program. The incentivized savings arm of the program contained the opening (if needed) of a savings account, at no cost to the beneficiary. Then, beneficiaries where incentivized to save US$ 1 a day (out of the 3$ pay) against a 1$ extra-pay, directly placed on the savings account and available only by the end of the LIPW. In other words, beneficiaries of the savings scheme chose between being paid 3$/day, every day, or 2$/day everyday plus 2$ per worked day (on an account) at the end of the contract. Beneficiaries of the training program arm, on the other hand, were trained by professional NGOs on specific skills right after the end of each LIPW project. The skills were chosen based on a market study of local economic conditions. Trainings mainly provided beneficiaries with new professional skills or business management techniques. Training days were paid as any workday (3USD) and so beneficiaries of this treatment arm theoretically also benefited from an extra-income.
Intervention Start Date
Intervention End Date

Primary Outcomes

Primary Outcomes (end points)
1) Active labor market participation
2) Monthly hours worked
3) Total monthly earnings
4) Total net financial savings
5) Use of formal financial institutions
6) Hard skills
7) Employment from other members of the household
8) Earnings by other members of the household
9) Total expenditures aggregates
10) Assets accumulation
11) Children schooling and welfare
12) Coping strategies
13) Remittances
Primary Outcomes (explanation)
The 13 primary outcomes were chosen according to our Theory of Change (cf. PAP for details) and seek to provide a short yet comprehensive and directly interpretable picture of the economic impacts of the LIPW program. While the first 6 outcomes are measured at the individual level, the following 7 look for household-level impacts of the LIPW. Most of our outcomes are based on various survey instruments that are aggregated in a directly interpretable fashion (e.g. summing all incomes) and unit (e.g. income in monetary values). We also group the outcomes into broader families that we will use to adjust our results for multi-hypothesis testing.

Secondary Outcomes

Secondary Outcomes (end points)
• Has worked in a job (C1.1 & C1.36)
• Has looked for a job in the last 30 days (C1.3a)
• Hours worked in wage employment (C1.9 & C1.20) /week
• Hours worked in self-employment (C1.9 & C1.20) /week
• Total days you spend in wage-employment in a typical month (C1.10 & C1.21)
• Total days you spend in self-employment in a typical month (C1.10 & C1.21)
• Total income from wage employment (C1.13, C1.24)
• Total profits from self-employment (C1.12, C1.23)
• Total sell from agricultural activities (C1.5.12)
• Plus total savings (C2.4)
• Minus total debt (C2.2.1 and interest rates C2.2.2b)
• Has opened a bank account (C2.4) following LIPW (C2.4.1)
• Used a formal saving system after LIPW (C2.3.1)
• Used a formal lending system after LIPW (C2.2.2)
• Received training in a trade since LIPW started (C3.1)
• Possesses unused skills (C3.3)
• Labor market difficulties when exist (C3.4) are not due to lack of skills (C3.4.1=(1|3))
• Business difficulties when exist (C3.5) are not due to lack of skills (C3.5.1=1)
• Other household members or head is working (C1.28, C1.31 & C1.32)
• Type of works from other household members or head (C1.29, C1.32)
• Earnings from employment by the head of the household (if different than respondent) (C1.30)
• Earnings from employment by other household members (C1.33, C1.35)
• Food expenditure:
o Total spent on food (B3.1.1.a)
• Non-food expenditure:
o Total spent on medical (B3.1.1.b)
o Total spent on leisure (B3.1.1.c)
o Total spent on clothing (B3.1.1.d)
o Total spent on transportation (B3.1.1.e)
o Total spent on energy and water (B3.1.1.f)
o Total spent on phone and internet (B3.1.1.g)
o Total spent on cosmetics (B3.1.1.h)
o Total spent on other services (B3.1.1.j)
• Dwelling (B2.4-B2.6);
• Furniture & electronic equipment (B2.1);
• Livestock (B2.1);
• Real estate (B2.2);
• Agricultural land (C1.37, C1.39, C1.40 if C1.36=1)
• Schooling (B1.2, B1.6);
• Worked over last month (C5.4);
• Domestic work over the last month (C5.8);
• Suffered from a common disease (at least one “yes” from E2.7 to E2.17)
• Suffered a negative income shock or more (B4.1)
• Were able to use savings or went through with no need for asset/investment depletion (B4.1.1)
• Has received assistance from an NGO or the government (B4.2)
• Household net position regarding financial assistance with relatives (Money given, B3.8, minus money received B3.5, B3.6, B3.7) is null or positive.
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)
While we aggregate these outcomes into meaningful measure we intend to analyze first (primary outcomes) we will decompose our findings to better understand channels of the impact. We will adjust our results for multi-hypothesis testing by taking into account this list of secondary outcomes.

Experimental Design

Experimental Design
This paper is concerned with four main research questions: 1) What is the impact of the LIPW program on economic outcomes (income, consumption, employment, investments, savings)? 2) What is the additional impact of the savings incentive? 3) What is the additional impact of the training program? 4) What is the impact of all three activities combined?

The impact evaluation was designed to produce rigorous evidence on the causal impact of the LIPW program on these four main aspects. In each of the 26 targeted neighborhoods, public lotteries were held to assign candidates into one of four groups. A first group of beneficiaries was offered short-term employment. A second group was offered a savings incentive in addition to the temporary works component. A third group was offered the employment component in addition to a training program while a fourth group was offered all three program activities. Remaining applicants for each lottery form the pool of potential controls, from which a stratified random sample of 3,205 was selected.

Experimental Design Details
Public lotteries were used to select the beneficiaries of the program (for which a large number of applications was expected), employing a randomization design. That is, intervention subjects – selected to be 50 percent male and 50 percent female – were randomly assigned to receive access to temporary employment. At the same time beneficiaries were selected, they were assigned to one of the four treatment arms: job offer only (group “A”), job offer and savings incentives (group “B”), job offer and training (group “C”) or job offer and savings incentives and training (group “D”). Around 2,775 individuals benefited from LIPW activities, earning US$ 3 a day during at least 4 months. Of those 2,775 LIPW beneficiaries, 695 were additionally offered the savings incentive (group “B”), 693 were additionally offered the training program (group “C”) and 687 were additionally offered both the savings incentive and the training program (group “D”). An extra pool of 1,678 individuals entered the project as potential replacement workers; since these individuals weren’t part of the first lottery draw we do not consider them in this analysis.
Randomization Method
Public lottery.
Randomization Unit
Unit of randomization is at the individual level.
Was the treatment clustered?

Experiment Characteristics

Sample size: planned number of clusters
Sample size: planned number of observations
5,980 individuals
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
Treatment A: 700 Individuals
Treatment B: 695
Treatment C: 693
Treatment D: 687

Control: 3,205 Individuals

Extra workers (replacements, not considered in this study): 1,678
Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)

Institutional Review Boards (IRBs)

IRB Name
Social Sciences Ethics Committee (SEC)
IRB Approval Date
IRB Approval Number
Analysis Plan

Analysis Plan Documents


MD5: 3b104e46aa763e4855ff367400d72834

SHA1: edfe70900a894573deb9add4ed1a8a195a317324

Uploaded At: October 29, 2019


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