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Gauging Public Opinion on Human Trafficking in Moldova and Albania:

Employing Survey Experimentation to Inform Effective Prevention and Awareness Programs

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Principal Investigators:

Through the C-TIP Campus Challenge Research Grants, teams of researchers at three universities implemented public opinion surveys in USAID priority countries for C-TIP programming. The researchers sought to generate data to inform the design of programs to raise awareness about trafficking among vulnerable populations and influence knowledge, attitudes, and practices related to trafficking. This paper focuses on research conducted in Albania and Moldova by a team led by Texas Christian University. C-TIP Campus Challenge grants also were awarded to the University of Southern California (USC) to conduct research in Indonesia, and to Vanderbilt University to conduct research in Nepal.

The TCU research team developed and fielded a nationally representative survey experiment in Albania and Moldova to assess what average citizens in both countries currently know about human trafficking and how counter-trafficking messaging could most effectively be framed. The research conducted in both countries focused on two primary objectives: 1) to establish a baseline of public opinion about human trafficking in each country, and 2) to analyze these data to provide information that can support the development of more strategic C-TIP prevention and protection programs by understanding what could drive people in each country to take personal action against trafficking and to support governmental action. In addition, the survey also explored how issue framing and messaging affects public concern for and involvement in C-TIP efforts. Key findings include:

  • In both Albania and Moldova, more politically engaged citizens demonstrated greater knowledge about human trafficking but were less likely to consider it a top priority for the government to address
  • In both Albania and Moldova, citizens demonstrated more knowledge of sex trafficking than labor trafficking, and were significantly less likely to think that men or boys could be vulnerable to any form of trafficking—indicating that messaging should help broaden the public definition of trafficking and awareness of who is vulnerable.
  • Through an experiment possible in Albania, where a USAID-funded counter-trafficking program had produced short video postcards about trafficking, the research suggests that messaging that both presents information about trafficking and provides citizens with concrete next steps to protect themselves and their families may be a simple, effective way to promote behaviors that could limit trafficking vulnerability.

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DFG Project Description

Through the USAID-funded Democracy Fellows and Grants (DFG) program, IIE brings research, innovation, and expertise to support USAID’s development work in the sector of democracy, human rights, and governance (DRG). Through the Democracy Fellows component, IIE manages experts in niche DRG disciplines who are embedded within USAID bureaus and offices to provide direct support to USAID’s work in their technical specialties. Through the Research and Innovation Grants component, IIE manages the production and publication of research—including the reports featured here as part of IIE’s democracy research series—that brings new learning, evidence, and knowledge to USAID to influence decisions about program design in the DRG sector.