The first work, “Facilitating Savings for Agriculture: Field Experimental Evidence from Malawi,” was co-authored with Dean Yang’s former graduate students Lasse Brune (Ph.D. ’14, Yale University) and Jessica Goldberg (Ph.D. ’11, University of Maryland), and his long-time co-author Xavier Giné (Lead Economist, Development Research Group, The World Bank). In this article, the authors tracked two sets of farmers. The first group was offered either commitment or ordinary savings accounts to deposit their cash crop harvest proceeds. The second group was not offered a saving account and was paid in cash for their harvest, this is the norm.

“We found that the farmers who were offered savings accounts later raised their agricultural input use, farm output and household consumption levels by more than the control group,” says Professor Yang, “this is the first study, to our knowledge, to provide evidence of positive impacts of a savings facilitation intervention on agricultural outcomes of rural households.”

In “Unilateral Facilitation Does Not Raise International Labor Migration from the Philippines,” Emily Beam (PhD. ’13, National University of Singapore), David McKenzie (Lead Economist, Development Research Group, The World Bank) and Dean Yang tested multiple interventions created to help facilitate migration. These constraints included supplying information about how to apply for legal overseas work, how to finance job placement with a list of financial companies that offered loans to finance migration, job matching and website assistance to ensure a mutually beneficial match between potential migrants and recruiters and finally assistance in the passport application process.

The authors found that a smaller population of people than expected expressed a desire to work abroad, and of that group, only a very small portion actually searched for work. The information on wages and costs had no effect, and the assistance with the job-matching and passport process lead to more search effort, but not more migration. While migration to a more developed country results in immediate income gains for the migrants, these interventions had limited impact that led to no overall increase in migration. “Although a sizable share of people (about one third) we surveyed said they were interested in working abroad, very few took steps to do so. We found no change in migration, even for those people who received the full package of assistance. We learned that there are multiple barriers on both the supply side and the demand side that restricts international migration. Our results suggest that for countries like the Philippines, effectively facilitating migration may require more than pursuing just these unilateral policies,” says Beam. The important focus needed in future research is in examining how to increase demand for migrants.To learn more about Professor Yang and his work, head to his website!