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Effects of One-to-One Mentoring on Disadvantaged Adolescents – Evidence from a Field Experiment
Last registered on October 20, 2020

Pre-Trial

Trial Information
General Information
Title
Effects of One-to-One Mentoring on Disadvantaged Adolescents – Evidence from a Field Experiment
RCT ID
AEARCTR-0006613
Initial registration date
October 19, 2020
Last updated
October 20, 2020 7:39 AM EDT
Location(s)

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Primary Investigator
Affiliation
Kiel University
Other Primary Investigator(s)
PI Affiliation
Ifo Institute and LMU Munich
PI Affiliation
KU Eichstätt-Ingolstadt
PI Affiliation
Ifo Institute
Additional Trial Information
Status
On going
Start date
2015-11-20
End date
2030-10-31
Secondary IDs
Abstract
The persistence of inequality across generations is a major concern worldwide. A de-fining characteristic of children from disadvantaged backgrounds is that they lack the family support that other children receive. Therefore, policies aimed at helping disadvantaged children face dire limitations as neither schools nor family-targeted programs can fully substitute or change parents. Existing evidence suggests that interventions have the best hope to succeed if they aim to compensate for lacking family support already in early childhood. However, little attention has been given to later interventions that provide personal support from other adults. This is the approach followed by numerous mentoring programs.

We study a nationwide German mentoring program that offers adolescents from disadvantaged families a university-student mentor. The aim of the one-to-one mentoring relationships is to support the disadvantaged adolescents in developing their individual potential, personal skills, and school situation in order to achieve a successful transition into professional life. The program is organized as a social franchise with a centralized concept and support structure that is implemented in more than 40 self-governing locations. The core of the program consists of regular mentor-mentee meetings focused on career orientation, school assistance, and leisure activities.

To evaluate the impact of the program on adolescents’ labor-market prospects, we conduct a randomized controlled trial (RCT). Since adolescents have not yet entered the labor market when we resurvey them one year after program start, we measure pro-gram effectiveness using three variables that are predictive of adolescents’ long-term labor-market success: math grades as a cognitive component, patience and social skills as a behavioral component, and labor-market orientation as a volitional component. We assess these outcomes separately and combined to an overall index of labor-market prospects. We also plan to collect data after adolescents’ entry in the labor market to assess their actual labor-market outcomes. Our analysis separates between adolescents from highly disadvantaged backgrounds (low socioeconomic status (low-SES)) who are the main target group of the program and (relatively) higher-SES adolescents who are also eligible to participate in the program.
External Link(s)
Registration Citation
Citation
Resnjanskij, Sven et al. 2020. "Effects of One-to-One Mentoring on Disadvantaged Adolescents – Evidence from a Field Experiment." AEA RCT Registry. October 20. https://doi.org/10.1257/rct.6613-1.0.
Sponsors & Partners
Sponsor(s)
Experimental Details
Interventions
Intervention(s)
Our RCT investigates the effects of a nationwide German mentoring program which provides one-to-one mentoring to disadvantaged adolescents in eighth or ninth grade in lower-track secondary schools (Hauptschule or equivalent). University students act as mentors. The main goal of the program is to enable the transition from lower-secondary school to apprenticeship programs or upper-secondary schools. The program aims at providing career guidance, establishing career visions, and fostering self-esteem and trust in the mentees’ own skills and abilities. Each mentoring pair is free to choose the content and intensity of their relationship, striving for at least bi-weekly meetings. While the mentoring activities include joint spare-time activities such as watching movies or visiting the zoo, mentors may also counsel mentees how to cope with stressful situations at school or in the family, provide occupational orientation, and assist in the job application process.
Intervention Start Date
2015-12-01
Intervention End Date
2020-06-24
Primary Outcomes
Primary Outcomes (end points)
The primary outcomes are specified in our pre-analysis plan (contained in the grant application registered with the sponsors on May 12, 2015) and the IRB application (granted on February 3, 2016). Specifically, we investigate three outcomes that are likely to be predictive of adolescents’ long-term labor-market success:
- School grades in math (cognitive component)
- Patience and social skills (behavioral component)
- Labor-market orientation (volitional component)
- We also combine these individual components to an index of labor-market pro-spects, which is the main outcome we study.

In the future, we plan to field further waves of data collection. In these waves, we will focus on the effects of the mentoring program on individuals’ actual labor market out-comes, among others, obtained qualification, employment status, and earnings. To be able to observe individuals after their labor-market entry, the end date of our trial is in 2030.
Primary Outcomes (explanation)
Secondary Outcomes
Secondary Outcomes (end points)
None
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)
Experimental Design
Experimental Design
We conduct a randomized field experiment in which participants are randomly as-signed to treatment or control within pairs (Bruhn and McKenzie (2009)). We conducted the randomization separately for each mentoring site.
Experimental Design Details
Not available
Randomization Method
Randomization Method:
- Pair-wise randomization
- Randomization done with computer in office
Randomization Unit
Individual randomization.
Was the treatment clustered?
No
Experiment Characteristics
Sample size: planned number of clusters
None.
Sample size: planned number of observations
300-400 individuals. Our pre-analysis plan and the IRB application already specified that sampling would proceed in two cohorts to increase the number of observations.
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
There will two experimental groups:
Control group: about 150-200 individual, independent observations
Treatment group: about 150-200 individual, independent observations

The mentoring program mainly targets highly disadvantaged adolescents. Thus, in the pre-analysis plan and the IRB application, it is specified that the population under study would be low-SES adolescents. However, during the initial phase of the evaluation, we learned that a non-negligible share of participants has a family background that cannot necessarily be considered as highly disadvantaged. The mentoring program is active in lower-track schools in disadvantaged neighborhoods in larger cities, each of which leads to a disproportionately high share of disadvantaged youths. However, the program does not implement any screening or selection of applying adolescents within the participating schools, leading to the fact that participants have rather diverse family backgrounds. Thus, our analysis separates between low-SES adolescents (who are the main target group of the program) and higher-SES adolescents.
Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)
IRB
INSTITUTIONAL REVIEW BOARDS (IRBs)
IRB Name
Ethics Committee of the Department of Economics of Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München
IRB Approval Date
2016-02-03
IRB Approval Number
2016-02