Jobs to End Poverty: Evidence From Bangladesh

The London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) and the BRAC Institute of Governance and Development (BIGD) are jointly implementing a quantitative study to evaluate the impact of BRAC’s Promoting Skills and Productivity Enhancement for Resilience (PROSPER) program, designed to improve the employability of youth in Bangladesh. The study will assess the demand for and impact of skills development training and evaluate the viability of different fee payment structures and recruitment practices.

Researchers: Robin Burgess; Oriana Bandiera; Dr Narayan C Das

Partners: London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE)

Timeline: 2020 – 2023

Status: Completed

Contact: Md Shakil Ahmed;


In Bangladesh, for an estimated 2.68 million unemployed persons who are over 15 years of age, 1.36 million are between 15 and 24 years old—which is 50.8% of the working-age population—illustrating that youth unemployment is a major problem in the country. BRAC has been implementing several skills development programs over the years to equip the country’s youth with the necessary skills to find employment. The Promoting Skills and Productivity Enhancement for Resilience (PROSPER) program, currently being implemented in 21 districts of Bangladesh, selects potential learners and offers them theoretical and soft skills, as well as on-the-job training by placing them under master craftspersons in the local market. In partnership with the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE), the BRAC Institute of Governance and Development (BIGD) is implementing a study to evaluate the program’s impact and understand the optimal design of youth training programs.


The objective of the study is to assess PROSPER’s impact on youth’s skills acquisition and their successful transition into the labor market, thus contributing to sustainable poverty reduction through stable jobs. More specifically, the study will focus on estimating workers’ willingness to pay for skills training programs as well as identify workers facing possible binding credit constraints and how they differ for young wives and mothers. The study will also look into how this knowledge can be folded into the design of scalable, sustainable skills development programs to tackle youth unemployment in low-income settings. Furthermore, the study compares the viability of different repayment contracts for learners, as well as different strategies for recruiting learners into training.

This study is relevant to SDG 8 (Decent Work and Economic Growth), particularly to promote sustained, inclusive, and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment, and decent work for all.


The target population of this study is youth, aged between 16 and 40, from low-income families, with a per capita income of less than BDT 10,000. By adopting a randomized controlled trial (RCT) method, a census was conducted in 30 BRAC branch offices where the PROSPER program is being implemented. The census covered 1,800 firms and 42,895 youth who were randomly divided into treatment and control groups based on their eligibility criteria and interest in training. The treatment and control groups contain 6,970 and 2,224 learners, respectively. The treatment group was further divided into four different arms based on their fee repayment contract, including whether they are required to pay full price or receive a discount, as well as whether they are required to pay upfront or only upon finding a job after the end of training. In an extension to the study, training demand and outcomes are also assessed for a separate sample of learners onboarded to training by BRAC staff through their networks, which is the status quo recruitment strategy. 

Findings and Recommendations