Public work programs (PWPs) constitute a popular form of providing social protection for households in low- in middle-income countries, and middle-income countries. While the growing number of empirical studies has focused on assessing the impact of PWPs on material outcomes (e.g., labor market; economic welfare; etc.), rigorous evidence about their impact on non-material outcomes is scarce.
This paper analyses a large-scale randomized control trial (RCT) of a PWP conducted in Egypt between 2015 and 2017 to provide rigorous evidence on three sets of issues: (ii) non-material aspects of the community’s life such as social capital, trust collective action and violence; (ii) subjective well-being; and (iii) women’s empowerment and intimate partner violence. One defining characteristic of this PWP is that the jobs created were supposed to be “good jobs”, providing decent working conditions and rewards, and that these jobs were predominantly targeted towards women and people of low social status. The program was randomized across villages and within villages, allowing us to measure both its individual and spillover effects.
We exploit a rich survey on non-material outcomes to assess the impact of the ELIIP PWP at the individual level as well as at the community level. At the individual level, we evaluate the impact of ELIIP on the perceptions of economic conditions, income security, subjective well-being, psychological health, and gender norms. At the community level, we examine whether the program has been deemed as “fair” by the community at large, and whether it has led to an improvement in the perceptions of the economic conditions, social capital, trust, conflict in the community, and confidence in government.