In 2014-2017 a research team from OWWA and AIM followed 2,000 first-time Filipino domestic workers who went to work in Hong Kong and Saudi Arabia, and their family left behind. All OFWs have to take the PDOS or Pre-Departure Orientation Seminar. The objective of the study was to test the impact of new modules for the PDOS as well as to gain insights on how domestic workers and their families adjust to having a family member become an OFW.
The PDOS program has been running since 1983 by POEA and OWWA, and this marks the first time that OWWA partnered with an academic institution to do a long-term evidence-based impact evaluation of the program. For AIM, on the other hand, the research is in line with AIM’s focus on business and society, and this study was an opportunity to bring theories and rigorous statistical techniques to a sector that is very important for the country, namely OFWs.
Together, an OWWA-AIM research team experimented with 4 new twists on the basic PDOS modules. The first was a new financial literacy module using a comic-book format to teach 4 basic simple messages that are critical to savings. The second experiment was to send savings reminders every 15 days to the OFWs, and the third was using the experience directly from ex-abroads in setting expectations of first-time DWs. The fourth experiment was a gift of dried mangoes that DWs were instructed to give to their employer to make a good first impression upon arrival in HK or KSA. The latter draws on the theories of behavioral economics that are increasingly being used to elicit desired behavior without heavy direction.
2,000 domestic workers were randomly assigned to a comparison group and a project group. The DWs and their families were interviewed just prior to the departure of the DW, and again after 8 months on the job and finally at the end of the work contract. The project has gathered a large amount of data on domestic workers including communcations, remittances, savings and expenditure decisions, and attitudes. The findings and their implications for policy will be presented at a conference in AIM on Oct 24, 2017 which will be attended by government representatives, migrant groups, NGOs and academe.
The study was financed by a grant to AIM from 3ie, The International Initiative for Impact Evaluation. 3ie is an international grant-making NGO promoting evidence-based development policies and program. The main funders of 3ie are the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, UKaid, and the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation.