Does Opportunity Reduce Instability? A Meta-Analysis of Skills and Employment Interventions in LMICs

It is logical that well-designed and well-implemented employment programs should deliver positive impacts on the economic outcomes of its participants. In the same way, well-designed and well-implemented peacebuilding programs should deliver improved political stability. The crossover of these two ideas, however, is the explicit backdrop to a number of third-party interventions in fragile and conflict-affected scenarios (FCS) and an implicit one in many more. Against a backdrop of almost 2,500 employment programs in FCS, however, explicit empirical analyses of the impact of employment programs on stability are rare. More so, at the programmatic level, these analyses have failed to rigorously show a significant positive relationship between individual participation and changes in individual-level stability indicators.

In this project, we bridge the knowledge gaps that exist between the economic theories of change and the weak empirical evidence that supports them. To do so, we conduct a “pseudo-meta-analysis” (PSM) in a range of African economies. In this PSM, we link the geographic locations of large employment for stability programs to household survey data on economic and non-economic outcomes in Burundi, Guinea, Liberia, Mali and Uganda. We use nearest neighbor propensity score matching to account for individual-level heterogeneities and the non-random rollout of programs and difference-in-difference estimation techniques.

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