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The Social and Psychological Effects of Public Works Programs: Evidence from a Randomized Control Trial with the Urban Poor in Eastern DRC.
Initial registration date
May 06, 2020
May 07, 2020 11:10 AM EDT
The World Bank Group
Other Primary Investigator(s)
Paris School of Economics
Additional Trial Information
This document describes the pre-analysis plan for a randomized impact evaluation of a World Bank funded, labor-intensive public works (LIPW) program in Eastern DRC. The project, implemented by the Social Fund of DRC, sought to increase resilience and livelihoods in five major cities in Eastern DRC by offering short-term employment to the urban poor. In order to make a lasting impact, the project also offered a savings incentive and a training program to develop professional skills. Between November 2016 and December 2018, 2,775 beneficiaries were randomly assigned 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. The impact evaluation seeks to produce rigorous evidence on non-material impacts of these four LIPW schemes. Because these schemes entered a broader program seeking stabilization and recovery of Eastern DRC, this study will investigate their impact on areas of social and political engagement, exposure to and engagement into violence, views and behaviors regarding gender equality and psychological well-being. This document provides an overview of the interventions and hypothesized effects, describes the key outcomes of interest and outlines econometric methods that will be employed to ascertain the effects of the interventions.
Brandily, Paul , Eric Mvukiyehe and Lodewijk Smets. 2020. "The Social and Psychological Effects of Public Works Programs: Evidence from a Randomized Control Trial with the Urban Poor in Eastern DRC.." AEA RCT Registry. May 07.
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 (end points)
1) Social capital and trust
2) Intra-community collective action
3) Inter-community collective action
4) Pro-social behaviors
5) Anti-social behaviors
6) Use of State-provided services
7) In favor of accountable State authority
8) Trust in local public institutions
9) Tax contribution (game)
10) Political efficacy and interest
11) Contacting Political Leaders
12) Contacting Opinion Leaders
13) Electoral Participation
14) Presence of armed groups
16) Conflict and violence in the community
17) Women’s economic empowerment
18) Views About Women’s Access to Power
19) Perception of gender-based violence
20) Physical violence
21) Sexual violence
22) Emotional violence
23) Cantril ladders 24) Mental health index
25) Perception of social acceptance
Primary Outcomes (explanation)
The 25 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 non-material 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 (end points)
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)
While we aggregate 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.
This paper is concerned with four main research questions: 1) What is the impact of the LIPW program on non-material outcomes (social capital, civic and political engagement, crime and violence, gender equality, psychological wellbeing)? 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.
Unit of randomization is at the individual level
Was the treatment clustered?
Sample size: planned number of clusters
Sample size: planned number of observations
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
Treatment A: 700 Individuals
Treatment B: 695
Treatment C: 693
Treatment D: 687
Control: 3205 Individuals
Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)
INSTITUTIONAL REVIEW BOARDS (IRBs)
Social Sciences Ethics Committee (SEC)
IRB Approval Date