The Impact of Access to Cities on Development: Experimental Evidence from the D.R. Congo


Throughout the world, cities are drivers of economic growth. They are hubs of innovation, entrepreneurship, and social change. Yet, the mechanisms through which the economic benefits of cities occur remain poorly understood because many social and economic forces change in tandem with urbanization. We study the randomized rollout of a program promoting urban access in rural villages in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). Implemented by a local NGO, this `City Access Program’ (CAP) provides regular weekly transportation by motorbike taxi to the city of Kananga to individuals living in rural villages surrounding the city. Our project seeks to provide causal evidence on the impacts of access to cities on economic behavior and wellbeing, gender norms, moral values such as preference for the in-group over the out-group, and psychological traits such as grit, self-control, and self-efficacy.