Vertrouwensexperiment Wageningen: Werkt het en waarom wel of niet? Eindverslag

Translated title of the contribution: Trust Experiment Wageningen: Does it work and why or why not?: Final Report

Ruud Muffels, Kirsten Blom-Stam, Stefan van Wanrooij

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This fourth and final report discusses the results of the research on the outcomes or effects of the Wageningen Trust Experiment. Wageningen was one of the six offically accepted and unique RCT-experiments in welfare in the Netherlands. The other cities were Tilburg, Utrecht, Groningen, Nijmegen and Deventer. In this more than 2-year lasting RCT-experiment (October, 1, 2017 – December, 31, 2019) four experimental treatments were distinguished: 1. self-reliance and exemption of obligations, 2. intensive mediation or tailored support, 3. earnings-release with extra 50% of additional earnings released up to 200 euros p/month, and 4. a control group. The experiment encompasses a different way of supporting people in social assistance or welfare. For Wageningen the experiment was a rather demanding experiment because it involved 410 participants covering more than 50% of all social assistance or welfare benficiaries in the city. The research consisted of a product and a process evaluation. The product evaluation examines the results or effects of the experimental approach compared to the regular treatment not only on outflow to work but also on well-being, health, freedom of choice (capabilities), social participation and self-reliance; the process evaluation examines the execution of the experiment by the caseworkers of the municipality of Wageningen. In other words, how does the process of supervision and support go. The study shows positive results on outflow to full-time paid work, not significantly when compared to the randomised control group, but significant compared to the non-participating social assistance beneficiaries. With the other outcome measures, a different picture came out of the regression analyses; some of our expectations on the non-work related outcome measures are confirmed but others refuted. However, there is also good news to report. Positive treatment effects were found notably in the treatment group extra support on subjective health and in the treatments groups self-reliance and extra guidance in wave 2 and 3 on mental health. In addition, we find a negative significant effect with the two treatments of extra support and earnings release for the number of hours spent on volunteering and informal care. The effect is negative compared to the control group but the decrease appears entirely due to the increase in hours of paid work. The effect is therefore not a negative but rather a positive treatment effect assuming that employment is one of the policy goals. Also, the scores that caseworkers give to the participants on the participation ladder show a significant increase for the majority of participants. As a result, the distance to the labour market has narrowed and social participation has increased, which was an important objective of the experiment. We find some evidence that selection bias and experiment effects (Hawthorne) might have affected the outcomes in Wageningen because the behavior of the participants as well as the caseworkers appears to have changed to some extent in the standard or controlgroup of the experiment. Further research is needed with another comparison group of welfare recipients during this period. In Wageningen, due to the absolutely small numbers, the estimates turned out to have a power problem, which sometimes made results just insignificant. To solve this, the next step will be to combine the outcomes with other municipalities because then the numbers and thus the power is increased.
Translated title of the contributionTrust Experiment Wageningen: Does it work and why or why not?: Final Report
Original languageDutch
PublisherTilburg University/ReflecT/Tranzo
Number of pages114
Publication statusPublished - 8 Apr 2020


  • RCT experiment
  • Employment effects
  • Subjective wellbeing and health
  • Trust
  • Capabilities
  • Treatment effects
  • administrative panel data
  • social welfare


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