Why Networks Matter for Employment: Experimental Evidence from the Meet Your Future Program

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We study whether an exogenous network expansion can mitigate search and matching frictions for young, skilled labor market entrants. We designed and implemented a large-scale experiment with 1,114 graduates from five Vocational Training Institutes across Uganda. We randomly select a subset to participate in the Meet Your Future (MYF) Program, a tailored coaching experience where students are matched with successful workers who attended their same institute and course of study. To test whether simultaneously relaxing liquidity constraints would compound the effects of an exogenous network expansion, we unconditionally provide a random subset of the MYF Program participants with a cash transfer, with the recommendation that they use the money to finance their job search. We assembled a rich panel dataset on all graduates’ expectations, job outcomes and demographics characteristics which spans three years through which we estimate the causal effect of these interventions on students’ expectations, job search and labor market outcomes. Last, through detailed data on students’ pre-intervention network and socioeconomic background we are able to evaluate the program’s potential to increase equality of access to quality jobs. Preliminary results show that integrating young jobseekers’ networks is successful in improving their employment outcomes up to one year later, not by changing the fundamentals of the search problem the young jobseekers face but by changing the way they perceive it.