In many parts of the rural developing world, a lack of jobs for agricultural workers in the months between planting and harvest creates a lean season at a predictable time each year. The nonprofit Evidence Action estimates that each year, some 600 million people experience this seasonal hunger.
Government and charitable programs can temper the impact, but they are costly and aren’t a solution to the core issue—a lack of work opportunities. Mushfiq Mobarak, a development economist at Yale SOM who often uses field experiments as a way to develop and test welfare-improving interventions, designed a program that offered round-trip bus tickets to agricultural workers, so they could migrate temporarily to cities where there was work. In Bangladesh, the $11 investment provided remarkable returns for the workers, their families, and their communities.