The sample for the study was composed of 250 villages–each with an average population of roughly 1,000 people–selected from ten districts spanning northern, northeastern, eastern, central, and western Afghanistan (southern areas were excluded due to security concerns). Half of the villages was randomly assigned to hold district elections and the other half to hold at-large elections. Under district elections, the village was split into geographically-defined districts and each villager could only vote for a single candidate residing in the same district.
The authors partnered with local village councils (shuras) in Kandahar, Afghanistan to identify 2,597 eligible youth to participate in the study, which was carried out in 2015-2016. Employing a “waitlist” approach to randomization that allows all participants in the sample to partake in the TVET programs, the authors randomly divided the sample into two cohorts. Cohort 1 began the TVET program treatment immediately, receiving a series of three- and six-month vocational training courses.
An experimental design was used in which the NSP program was partially extended to ten non-NSP districts in 2007; in each of these, 50 villages were selected and then randomly assigned to take part in NSP or not. Selected villages were grouped into matched pairs based on background characteristics and a requirement that they not be within 1km of each other; one unit in each pair was then randomly assigned to treatment.