Salehi-You Grant

Wednesday, Dec 7 – Congratulations to Dr. Djavad Salehi-Isfahani, Dr. Sudipta Sarangi and Dr. Wen You (AAEC)! They have received a $100,000 grant from Harvard Kennedy School for a pilot study on Increasing Employment with Peer Effects.  – As in most Middle Eastern countries, youth is Saudi Arabia suffer from high rates of unemployment.  Saudi private employers prefer to employ expatriate workers, who are less expensive and have greater incentive to perform.  The Saudi government has implemented several policies to assist the integration of youth into the private labor market but with limited success.   The effectiveness of these policies could be improved by introducing behaviorally inspired non-pecuniary incentives.  This project aims to assess the need for, and the feasibility of, introducing peer networks in job search for Saudi youth.  The hypothesis is that positive peer effects can help youth overcome the unavoidable frustrations of looking for a job in the Saudi private labor market and persevere in their search.  Peer networks provide emotional support and access to new information and experiences that can help motivate youth. In addition, they can help change youth beliefs about non-government jobs, to which most youth gravitate.  This pilot will identify the potential obstacles, especially for women, in forming peer networks that meet online as well as in person.  We plan to evaluate the impact of peer network interventions using a randomized controlled trial and engaging the recipients of an existing government program (Hafiz ) that provides financial incentives for youth to search for jobs.