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Matching Youth to Jobs: A Randomized Controlled Experiment in South Africa
Initial registration date
December 11, 2019
December 11, 2019 4:34 PM EST
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Other Primary Investigator(s)
University of Cape Town
Additional Trial Information
Transport costs in developing country cities can be un-affordable to the poor and have detrimental impacts on their mobility. The cost of searching for a job, in particular, is a likely culprit for the high unemployment rate of poor workers who are often too poor to successfully look for a job away from their place of residence. High job search costs are especially prohibitive for women who may only find lower paying-jobs, who can be constrained in their transport patterns (possibly given household chores and child care), and who are at a higher risk falling victim to harassment and crime in transport. This is especially true in South Africa given the high rate of single motherhood among the poor and given high crime in transport and around stations. Connecting vulnerable groups to jobs in South Africa is thus an objective of paramount importance, including better connecting the disabled to jobs as they face additional constraints and discrimination in the labor market.
The study will assess the cost-effectiveness of measures that can speed up and improve job matching in the greater Johannesburg area. A transport subsidy, as well as a mobile phone data plan subsidy will address cost and information inefficiencies in job search. The study will assess changes in job search behavior (method used, intensity of job search, and geographic area traveled to) and resulting improvements in labor market outcomes (speed and quality of match, job retention). The following questions will be addressed: Do treated respondents search more intensively while they are receiving treatments? Do they search in different areas, possibly further away from their place of residence? Do they apply to different job types as search costs are reduced? Do they come into contact with or find jobs more quickly, or, if unsuccessful, do they keep searching for a longer period of time? Do they update their beliefs about the status of the local labor market? Do their reservation wages and job aspirations change? Do they relocate after finding a job? Because of gender specificities in terms of labor force participation, job-search behavior, and reluctance to face insecurity in transports, the analysis will also explore the possibility of gender-differentiated impacts on the outcomes. By focusing on the above research questions, the study will make it possible to quantitatively assess two major policy issues: (i) How detrimental is the spatial disconnection from jobs in terms of labor market outcomes of the poor? (ii) To what extent and how efficiently can policy measures be undertaken to address the issue.
The experiment will be carried out over a sample of young job-seekers applying to a job-matching program in Johannesburg but not yet selected to participate in that training. Some job-seekers will be provided with either a transport or a mobile phone data subsidy or both subsidies or will not receive any subsidy at all. The job-search behavior and unemployment outcomes of all individuals in the different groups will then be followed over a period of three months.
Bhorat, Haroon, Harris Selod and Forhad Shilpi. 2019. "Matching Youth to Jobs: A Randomized Controlled Experiment in South Africa
." AEA RCT Registry. December 11.
The experiment will take advantage of a job-matching program initiative in South Africa which has been running in Johannesburg for several years. The program makes contact with young job-seekers aged 18-35 in the Gauteng region, mainly from townships and invites them to their office in order to register . The experiment will consist in providing transport and mobile phone data plan subsidies to pools of candidates that register on the same day.
Intervention Start Date
Intervention End Date
Primary Outcomes (end points)
The study will assess (i) changes in job search behavior (method, intensity, and geographic area) and (ii) resulting improvements in labor market outcomes (speed and quality of match, job retention).
Primary Outcomes (explanation)
Secondary Outcomes (end points)
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)
There will be four arms in addition to a control group of job-seekers receiving no treatment: (i) a group whose job-search behavior is tracked; (ii) a group receiving a transport subsidy and whose job-search behavior is tracked through a phone App; (iii) a group receiving a phone data plan subsidy and whose job-search behavior is tracked through the phone App; and (iv) a group receiving both subsidies and whose job-search behavior is tracked through the phone App. All individuals in the control and treatment groups will be asked to participate in SMS surveys throughout the experiment.
Experimental Design Details
Daily pools of job seekers will be randomly assigned to either one of the treatment arm or the control group. On a same day, all individuals will be assigned to the same arm or control group.
Units of randomization are daily pools of job-seekers from the Gauteng region applying to a job-matching program.
Was the treatment clustered?
Sample size: planned number of clusters
40 daily pools of 100 job seekers.
Sample size: planned number of observations
4,000 job seekers.
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
The control group will consist of 1,000 individuals in total. Each of the three arms will include 1,000 individuals.
Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)
We estimate that our sample size is sufficient for detecting an increase in number of applications per week by 0.5 and numbers of hours spent on job search by 5 percent. The sample size is also sufficient to detect 4 percentage points increase in employment rate.
INSTITUTIONAL REVIEW BOARDS (IRBs)