Back to History Current Version

Improving Labor Market Outcomes for Refugees in Developing Countries: Evidence from Uganda

Last registered on September 17, 2020


Trial Information

General Information

Improving Labor Market Outcomes for Refugees in Developing Countries: Evidence from Uganda
Initial registration date
September 17, 2020

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
September 17, 2020, 8:05 AM EDT

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



Primary Investigator

Institute for International Economic Studies, Stockholm University

Other Primary Investigator(s)

PI Affiliation
Maastricht University

Additional Trial Information

In development
Start date
End date
Secondary IDs
Many governments and international institutions are working to create economic opportunities for refugees in prolonged crises. Yet refugees, especially in developing countries, may find it particularly hard to access local job markets. By exploring the Ugandan labor market for refugee and local young job seekers, this project will design and evaluate a program with the aim of reducing the prevalence of labor market discrimination against refugees. In collaboration with a local NGO, this study will provide employment subsidies to hire a refugee or a local job seeker. By studying the effect of exposure and how firms learn about the true productivity of workers, researchers will assess whether the program reduces the extent of discrimination and whether labor market outcomes improve.
External Link(s)

Registration Citation

Loiacono, Francesco and Mariajose Silva Vargas. 2020. "Improving Labor Market Outcomes for Refugees in Developing Countries: Evidence from Uganda." AEA RCT Registry. September 17.
Sponsors & Partners

There is information in this trial unavailable to the public. Use the button below to request access.

Request Information
Experimental Details


Intervention Start Date
Intervention End Date

Primary Outcomes

Primary Outcomes (end points)
Firms' outcomes (beliefs about refugees' productivity; revenues and profits; hire the refugee the firm has been introduced to). Refugees outcomes (salary; savings; job search behavior; social cohesion)
Primary Outcomes (explanation)

Secondary Outcomes

Secondary Outcomes (end points)
Co-workers' outcomes (beliefs about refugees' productivity)
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)

Experimental Design

Experimental Design
Firms will be randomly matched one-to-one with refugee job-seekers. The treatment status of each firm depends on the refugee they are matched to. Refugees are thus in a first step divided into two groups:

1) Certified: these refugees will be tested on practically acquired skills and will be provided with a complete certificate, officially recognized by the government of Uganda.
2) Non-certified: these refugees will be tested on practically acquired skills, but will receive a certificate of participation only.

Firms will be then asked to provide their willingness-to-hire the refugee worker they have been shown to. Conditional on their "WTP" they will be randomly provided with a short-term subsidy to hire the worker for one week. A subset of these firms will not receive any subsidy. We will then compare hiring decisions of firms receiving the subsidy versus the ones of firms not receiving the subsidy.
Experimental Design Details
Our experiment will involve refugee job seekers and local employers in Uganda, the third largest refugee hosting country in the world and the largest in Africa. Uganda grants refugees complete freedom of movement and full right to work. For this reason, its host policy has been praised worldwide for its openness and generosity. Refugees that migrate to Uganda come from states in turmoil such as South Sudan, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Burundi, and Somalia. Both refugee job seekers and local employers will be recruited in the capital city of Kampala.
The experiment will involve the following steps. Notice that step 1 and 2 will take place at the same time (i.e. we will interview firms and refugees interested in some specific sectors one sector at a time).

Step 1: Recruitment and certification of refugee job seekers
With the assistance of YARID, we will recruit 800 refugee job seekers. We will collaborate with refugee local leaders to identify potential beneficiaries: 18 to 25 years old job seekers and that are willing to accept a short-term (one week long) internship at some firms (in sectors we will describe below) for a salary of no more than 50,000UGX (approximately 15USD). We will first run a baseline survey, aiming at capturing: characteristics of the workers (past work experience, labor market outcomes before and after arrival in Uganda), beliefs about the Ugandan labor market, as well as cognitive (Raven Tests), non-cognitive skills (Big 5, Grit and Self-esteem), knowledge of English and Luganda, math skills.
We will test all the participants to the experiment using procedures and guidelines developed by the Uganda Directorate for Industrial Training (DIT) with the aim of providing a random selection of workers with a skills certificate called similar to the well-known “WorkersPAS” (Workers’ Practically Acquired Skills). This initiative was established several years ago by the government of Uganda with the aim of certifying non-formal and informal skills. We will offer certification in the following sectors: Bakery, Brick-laying, Hairdressing, Herbalists, Hotels, Restaurants and Catering, Phone repairing, Tailoring. We choose these sectors for the following two reasons: 1) A large number of the refugees in our previous survey expressed interest in working in these (or related) sectors and 2) The DIT has well-established assessment modules to test workers in these sectors (among others). At the time of registering this experiment, the researchers have not yet determined whether they will certify workers using the Worker's PAS or a similar one, based on the guidelines of the DIT.
Refugees will then be randomly divided in two groups: 25% (n=200) of refugees will be allocated to a “Certified” group (C) and 75% (n=600) to a “Non-Certified” group (NC). The only difference between these two groups will be that some of them will be endowed with the Worker’sPAS and the others will receive a simple certificate of completion of the test (i.e. not the Worker’sPAS).

Step 2: Recruitment of firms, baseline, randomization in treated and control, and matching
We will recruit 800 firms to participate to a baseline survey. To do so, we will first conduct a census of firms active in the sectors we are interested from the main markets of Kampala. During this exercise, we will collect detailed information about the business (monthly profits and revenues, employees and assets value) and the firm owner (specifically, her attitudes towards refugee job seekers). We will select participants to the experiment with the following criteria: 1) have never hired a refugee and 2) have at least one employee which is not a family member (and are hence used to hiring workers whom they are not personally connected to). The baseline survey will last no more than 90 minutes and will collect detailed information on: general practices regarding hiring (new) workers, constraints to business growth, employees, revenues and business profitability, as well as beliefs about workers of different nationalities (especially asylum-seekers and refugees).
After the baseline survey, firms will randomly be allocated to two different groups: 200 employers will be matched to the C-group refugees, and 600 instead to the NC-group refugees. Hence, the only difference between the two groups is that the firms matched with the C-group refugees will be told and will be shown the skills certificate of the potential hire. We will randomly assign the treatment status stratifying by sector of the firm.

Step 3: Willingness-to-pay (WTP) to hire a refugee
Firms will be then shown the refugees they have been matched with. At this step we will elicit firms’ true willingness to hire a refugee for a short period of time (one week), using an incentive-compatible Becker-DeGroot-Marschak mechanism: a multiple price list. We will thus act as an intermediary firm aiming to match each firm with the randomly selected refugee. More specifically, firms will be shown 11 prices, wp, between 0 and 50,000UGX (approximately 15USD) in steps of 5,000UGX (approximately 1.5USD). They will be asked whether they would be willing to hire a refugee for a weekly wage of 50,000 receiving a subsidy equal to each wp until they say no. As soon as they say no, the recorded subsidy at which they will like to hire the refugee is (wp – 5,000UGX). Firms will be told that we will draw a random price, wr, and that if their proposed wp is higher than the wr, they can hire the refugee for a week. In order to be sure that the random assignment of the subsidy is quasi-exogenous to the firm’s preferences, we will randomly produce wr to have a large mass at 0 and 50,000UGX. Overall, 50% of firms will receive the subsidy to work with the selected refugee and 50% will not. Comparing the answers of firms exposed to the C-group refugees with those of firms exposed to the NC-group refugees will tell us about the value of the market certificate.

Step 4: Exposure to a refugee job seeker
The random price will be such that, conditional on the WTP, 50% of firms across groups will receive the offer to work with the refugee job seeker. In this way, both firms that have access to certificates and those who do not will be randomly exposed to a refugee worker for a week. This strategy will allow us to have four groups of firms:
1. No certificate, no exposure
2. With certificate, no exposure
3. No certificate, with exposure
4. With certificate, with exposure.
This way we can measure the impact of an employment subsidy and compare it to the effect of showing certificates only. We can also test eventual complementarities between the two policies. Importantly, we will ask the firm to hire the refugee worker for only one week. Together with the fact that the certification will just be an acknowledgement of skills already acquired by the job seeker, this will imply that we can rule out the concern that exposure leads to more productive workers, which could have an independent effect on the WTP.
Randomization Method
Randomization done by a computer
Randomization Unit
Individual level (refugees) and firm level
Was the treatment clustered?

Experiment Characteristics

Sample size: planned number of clusters
Sample size: planned number of observations
800 firms and 800 refugees
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
Firms that are shown a certified worker: 100
Firms that are not shown a certified worker: 300
Firms that are shown a certified worker and receive the subsidy: 100
Firms that are not shown a certified worker and do not receive the subsidy: 300
Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)
The sample size of 200 individuals in the certification treatment and 600 in pure control, using willingess-to-hire a refugee as the outcome of interest, was chosen based on a power calculation, which showed that this sample is sufficient to detect effect sizes of 0.11 SD for all treatment vs. pure control firms with 92% power. This sample size will also allow the researchers to detect an increase of 29% in firms deciding to hire a refugee with a power of 80% (and confidence interval of 95%)

Institutional Review Boards (IRBs)

IRB Name
IRB Approval Date
IRB Approval Number


Post Trial Information

Study Withdrawal

There is information in this trial unavailable to the public. Use the button below to request access.

Request Information


Is the intervention completed?
Data Collection Complete
Data Publication

Data Publication

Is public data available?

Program Files

Program Files
Reports, Papers & Other Materials

Relevant Paper(s)

Reports & Other Materials