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The Psychosocial Value of Employment: Evidence from the Rohingya Refugee Camps
Professor Reshman Hussam (Harvard University) will talk about the findings of some recent research. In settings where employment opportunities are scarce, the inability to work may generate psychosocial harm. This talk will present a causal estimate of the psychosocial value of employment in the Rohingya refugee camps of Bangladesh. We engaged 745 individuals in a field experiment with three arms: (1) a control arm, (2) a weekly cash arm, 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. We found that employment confers significant psychosocial benefits beyond the impacts of cash alone, with effects concentrated among males. The cash arm did not improve psychosocial wellbeing, despite the provision of cash at a weekly amount that was more than twice the amount held by recipients in savings at baseline. Consistent with these findings, we found that 66% of those in our work treatment were willing to forego cash payments to instead work for free. Our results have implications for social protection policies for the unemployed in low income countries and refugee populations globally.

May 19, 2021 05:00 PM in London

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