Hawassa Industrial Park Community Impact Evaluation

The project seeks to further our understanding of the effects of industrialization initiatives on rural communities in developing countries.

This project uses a unique large-scale government led industrialization project in Southern Ethiopia to understand the impact of factory employment on workers and the rural communities from which they originate. The Hawassa Industrial Park is one of ten industrial parks that are currently being planned and built all over Ethiopia. These parks will focus on light, export-oriented manufacturing. The park is unique in that all recruitment and training of workers is centralized through the Hawassa Industrial Park Sourcing and Training Employees in the Region (HIPSTER) program, which will identify, select, screen, grade and train about 30,000 HIP employees in the next two years.

The HIPSTER program allows randomization opportunities at two stages: (1) selection of job seekers in the rural communities around Hawassa for participation in the screening and grading process and (2) selection of graded job seekers to interview with specific employers for specific jobs. The project team will have access to rich administrative data tracking workers from initial listing, through selection, screening, grading, interviews, employment and retention. Using data from survey of potential source households across potential source communities, in conjunction with variation in (fully observed through the HIPSTER database) random selection into park employment for women across households and communities, both the direct effects on source households as well as spillover effects on neighbouring (not affected) households in source communities, can be estimated.

On top of easing policymakers’ knowledge gaps around the industrial park, findings from the project will shed light on employment dynamics in an industry that has had a mixed track record in empowering women. The latter will be addressed directly through several questions in the household survey that are meant to elicit intra-household bargaining power, potential pressure to redistribute income, and distributional and non-distributional conflicts.