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The Psychosocial Impacts of Forced Idleness
Last registered on March 06, 2021

Pre-Trial

Trial Information
General Information
Title
The Psychosocial Impacts of Forced Idleness
RCT ID
AEARCTR-0006000
Initial registration date
June 11, 2020
Last updated
March 06, 2021 11:52 AM EST
Location(s)
Region
Primary Investigator
Affiliation
Harvard Business School
Other Primary Investigator(s)
PI Affiliation
Harvard School of Public Health
PI Affiliation
American University
PI Affiliation
World Bank
Additional Trial Information
Status
Completed
Start date
2019-10-30
End date
2020-12-31
Secondary IDs
Abstract
Social scientists have long posited that employment may deliver psychological utility beyond the value of income alone. Existing literature, however, suffers from problems of selection into employment and an inability to disentangle the pecuniary and non-pecuniary mechanisms driving wellbeing. This paper presents a causal estimate of the psychosocial benefits of employment in the Rohingya refugee camps of Bangladesh. We engage 745 individuals in a field experiment with three arms: (1) a control arm, in which no work is offered; (2) a cash arm, in which no work is offered but a weekly fee is provided; and (3) a gainful employment arm, in which work is offered and individuals are paid weekly the approximate equivalent of that in the cash arm. Building on existing observations in psychology, we further investigate the causal roles of past trauma and future uncertainty in mediating the impact of employment on psychosocial wellbeing.
External Link(s)
Registration Citation
Citation
Hussam, Reshmaan et al. 2021. "The Psychosocial Impacts of Forced Idleness." AEA RCT Registry. March 06. https://doi.org/10.1257/rct.6000-1.2000000000000002.
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Experimental Details
Interventions
Intervention(s)

Intervention Start Date
2019-11-20
Intervention End Date
2020-02-04
Primary Outcomes
Primary Outcomes (end points)
We have seven primary outcomes of interest: time-use, mental health, stability, physical health, cognitive function, economic decision making, and willingness to work. Please refer to the attached PAP for details on each.
Primary Outcomes (explanation)
Secondary Outcomes
Secondary Outcomes (end points)
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)
Experimental Design
Experimental Design
Our main intervention is providing work tasks to the Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh.

We want to identify the impact of providing work tasks on psychosocial wellbeing (benchmarked against the impact of providing a cash transfer). We also want to determine whether the effects of providing work tasks vary with: (i) uncertainty in work-schedule (mimicking daily labor) and (ii) experience of past violence.

We have four treatment arms:
1. Control group (C): individuals receive a small weekly payment (50 Taka ~ 0.60 USD)
2. Treatment 1 (T1): individuals receive a large weekly payment (450 Taka ~ 5.30 USD)
3. Treatment 2 (T2 - Certainty): individuals are offered the opportunity to work for pay. They receive 150 Taka (1.77 USD) per day of work and a pre-filled calendar that highlights the days they are supposed to work.
4. Treatment 3 (T3 - Uncertainty): individuals are also offered the opportunity to work for pay, receiving 150 Taka (1.77 USD) per day of work. They do not receive a calendar with pre-filled dates -- they are informed every week about the days they would be hired for the following week.

To estimate the impact of receiving a large amount of cash (as opposed to a small amount), we compare outcomes from T1 to C. To estimate the impact of work (as opposed to receiving a small amount of cash), we compare the outcomes of T2 and T3 to C.

To estimate how certainty mediates the impact of work, we compare outcomes of T2 to T1 and T3 to T1.
Experimental Design Details
Randomization Method
Randomization is done in the office by a computer
Randomization Unit
Our main randomization is done at the block level (five households per block). Various sub-randomizations (as described in detail in the attached PAP) are conducted at the individual level.
Was the treatment clustered?
Yes
Experiment Characteristics
Sample size: planned number of clusters
153
Sample size: planned number of observations
745
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
33 blocks in control, 33 blocks in cash, 87 blocks in work-for-cash
Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)
Details provided in attached PAP.
IRB
INSTITUTIONAL REVIEW BOARDS (IRBs)
IRB Name
Harvard University-Area Committee on the Use of Human Subjects
IRB Approval Date
2019-06-21
IRB Approval Number
IRB19-0067
Analysis Plan
Analysis Plan Documents
The Psychosocial Impacts of Forced Idleness

MD5: 5cfd2aeb4c9991b576993ac3c1f431e6

SHA1: f80b1e37a53d729e28dd70cf7bcfc911422c6ea1

Uploaded At: March 06, 2021

Post-Trial
Post Trial Information
Study Withdrawal
Intervention
Is the intervention completed?
No
Is data collection complete?
Data Publication
Data Publication
Is public data available?
No
Program Files
Program Files
Reports, Papers & Other Materials
Relevant Paper(s)
REPORTS & OTHER MATERIALS