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Farm workers in developing countries often belong to the poorest of the poor. They typically face low wages, informal working arrangements, and inadequate social protection. Written employment contracts with clearly defined rights and obligations could possibly help, but it is not clear how such contracts could be introduced and promoted in traditional peasant environments. To address this question, we develop and implement a randomized controlled trial with farmers in Côte d’Ivoire. We evaluate whether an awareness campaign about possible features and benefits of employment contracts can influence farmers’ preferences and willingness to sign a contract with their workers. Choice experimental results show that – in comparison to the control group – farmers who were randomly assigned to the awareness campaign have a stronger preference for written contracts and a higher willingness to include contractual features with social benefits for workers. We also analyze treatment effects on farmers’ knowledge and behavior. Farmers in the treatment group are more informed about the procedure of initiating and signing a contract. They are also significantly more likely to have started this procedure by talking with their workers about a contract and making an appointment with the local authorities. Effects on actually signing a contract as the last step of this procedure are not significant, possibly because the time frame of the research was relatively short. Nevertheless, results suggest that information and awareness campaigns may help to improve farm workers’ employment conditions in traditional peasant environments.


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