Analyzing the Link Between Employment Programs and Social Stability – Phase II

A reasonably common strand of development programming aims to improve complicated outcomes via interventions targeted at relatively more prosaic ones. The idea that employment programming builds peace and social stability is a common example of such a “cross-partial”. Yet, despite significant investments in programs of this nature, relatively little is known about how well they perform in reducing social cleavages. Case-study evidence remains scant and the existing findings are mixed and inconclusive.

In this project, we study the social impacts of two Mercy Corps jobs training programs in Jordan and Lebanon. Due to the pressures of hosting unprecedented numbers of people displaced from Syria, these locations are particularly suitable for such a study as they help to overcome pre-standing concerns. First, the source of tensions between host and displaced communities has been shown to be as strongly connected to access to jobs and other economic outcomes. Second, the nature of these tensions often manifests itself as adverse in-group / out-group interactions.

We hypothesize that jobs training programs that specifically target the source of tensions improves the quality of social interactions between host and displaced communities. To capture these interactions, we run a series of in-group / out-group incentivized behavioral experiments with individuals who benefit from the trainings and a comparable control group. In addition, we measure the impact of the training program on more typical economic and psychological outcome variables and test for difference between “behaviors” towards outgroups taken from the games, and attitudes collected in a related survey.