My research uses causal inference methods in applied microeconomics to study labor markets and health in developing countries, with a particular focus on gender.

Working Papers:

    • Workplace Attributes and Women’s Labor Supply Decisions: Evidence from a Randomized Experiment

(Under Review)

World Bank Development Impact Blog Post

Women’s educational attainment has increased substantially but women’s labor market outcomes have not experienced a commensurate increase in many developing countries. I conduct two related experiments with educated women on a job search platform in Pakistan. Salience of family job search advice decreases women’s job application rates by approximately 20%, but these effects are mitigated when women receive information about coworker gender. Information about coworker or supervisor gender does not significantly impact women’s job application decisions directly at the vacancy level, but shifts the occupations that women prefer and apply to, and shifts beliefs about the likelihood of having a male supervisor by occupation. The results are consistent with women facing family pressure that shapes their job search, but also show that access to information about workplace attributes through a low-cost intervention allows women to direct their job search in a way that could mitigate costs associated with social norms.
    • What you get is what you (can) see: Publicly Observable Signals of Generosity and Effort of Healthcare Providers

– with Manoj Mohanan
Paper Link (Under Review)
Healthcare in many parts of the developing world is characterized by low quality of care. This paper uses novel data from rural Bihar, India, to explore the relationship between healthcare providers' generosity and quality of care delivered. We analyze data on providers' clinical effort both when they are aware that they are being observed and also when they are unaware of being monitored (during audit visits by standardized patients), combined with data from a lab-in-field experiment that induced publicly observable signals of generosity. Providers who exhibit high levels of publicly observable generosity to a health-related NGO in the area also exert high levels of effort with patients when they know that they are being observed. However, when measured using standardized patient methodology, where providers are not aware of being observed, publicly observable generosity is not correlated with high levels of provider effort with patients.

Selected Research in Progress:

  • Rational Discouragement? Returns to Search for Marginal Labor Force Participants

with Erica Field, Rob Garlick, and Kate Vyborny

(AEA trial registry)

(draft available on request)

Urban labor markets in developing countries are home to a rising number of people who are not working, report that they want to work, but do not search for work. The number is particularly high for women in many parts of the developing world. This behavior may reflect “rational discouragement:” correct anticipation that some individuals have low returns to search. We test this idea by randomizing light-touch encouragement to apply for jobs in Lahore, Pakistan. We evaluate the effects of encouragement on job applications and outcomes, including job interviews, job offers, employment, and earnings. The results allow us to characterize individuals at the margin of searching and the returns to search for these marginal jobseekers.
  • A leaky pipeline: Decomposing the gender gap in job search in urban Pakistan

with Elisabetta Gentile, Nikita Kohli, Kate Vyborny, and Zunia Tirmazee

Recent literature shows that the persistent gender gaps in employment that we observe in many developing countries, particularly in South Asia, could arise from either the labor supply or labor demand side. We use administrative data from Job Talash, a free job search and matching platform in Lahore, Pakistan, to decompose gender gaps at every stage of the search process, allowing us to isolate supply-side versus demand-side constraints to women's versus men's employment. We find that gender gaps favoring men exist at nearly every stage of the search process and they persist across education levels and years of experience. After matching, however, the pattern that favors men reverses or goes away, suggesting that the gender gap favoring men arises fairly upstream, when jobseekers (firms) are setting their supply-side (demand-side) criteria of the types job ads (jobseekers) they would consider.
  • A Labour Markets Research Agenda through a Job Search Platform

with Erica Field, Rob Garlick, and Kate Vyborny

Labor markets in low-income countries experience many frictions that impair efficient firm-worker matching. Information frictions can hinder firms' attempts to observe workers' skills and productivity, spatial frictions can separate firms and workers, regulatory frictions can deter firms from hiring and norms around gender and other identities can hurt some workers and small firms. These frictions can harm both workers and firms. In this project, we develop and use an innovative job search platform, Job Talash, in urban Lahore, Pakistan to help match workseekers and firms. Job Talash generates rich, high-frequency data on both the supply and demand sides of the labour market. This project uses Job Talash to randomly vary the frictions facing firms and workseekers and hence quantify the importance of these frictions.

  • Shocks, Women, and Marriage Markets

with Abhilasha Sahay

Marriage is arguably the most important economic decision in a woman’s life, especially in low and middle income countries and among societies rooted in patriarchy. In this research, we investigate the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on marriage markets. We study this question in the Indian context via constructing a high-frequency, high-volume dataset – a repository of over 200,000 matrimonial advertisements - and test predictions on whether and how exogenous variation in the marital search process - triggered by the outbreak of COVID-19 - could impact (i) size and composition of the marriage market, (ii) stated marital preferences and subsequent matching, and (iii) post-marriage outcomes such as fertility, labor force participation, earnings, decision-making and agency.