Research

Women’s Promotions and Intra-household Bargaining: Evidence from Bangladesh
This paper investigates how women’s promotions in the workplace affect bargaining in the household. I exploit the design of a promotion programme for women in 27 Bangladeshi garment factories, by comparing women who were quasi-randomly selected for the programme to the shortlisted runners-up. Results using three different estimation approaches (OLS with post-double selection Lasso, regression discontinuity, and matching) show that women’s bargaining power increases as a result of the promotion. The effects are largest for the share of income households spend on assignable goods for women (especially clothing and accessories) and remittances. The latter appears to mask expenditures on children, since remittances increase most for women whose children live with other relatives. I find that these direct effects of the promotions are amplified by impacts on women working as subordinates of the new female managers. Using the quasi-random assignment of sewing-line operators to production lines for identification, I observe that women exposed to a female manager have more say in decision-making in the household, especially about their own mobility. Overall, I find suggestive evidence that both the direct and the indirect impacts are driven by women gaining confidence to get involved in bargaining, rather than income effects that ease the budget constraint or changes in the relative wage in the household.

Learning What to Look For: Hard Measures of Soft Skills in Promotion (with Christopher Woodruff) – Draft available soon.
We report the results of a field experiment designed to promote women to  supervisory positions in Bangladesh’s garment factories, with which participating factories have little prior experience. We show that formal diagnostic tests lead factories to choose candidates that are more likely to be promoted and who, according to their subordinates, perform better after promotion. Diagnostics measuring “soft skills” are particularly relevant for managers. Randomized timing of supervisory training for the selected candidates shows that providing the training earlier leads to higher compliance with the standard factory training protocol, but has only marginal effects on the performance of the trainees following promotion.

Who Loses and Who Benefits from Large-scale Infrastructure Projects? Evidence from the Impact of India’s Golden Quadrilateral Project on Incumbent Manufacturing Firms – New draft available soon.
India’s Golden Quadrilateral was an ambitious infrastructure project that improved the quality and width of highways connecting four major Indian cities. This paper analyses the project’s short-term impact on incumbent manufacturing firms. I estimate the impacts using firm-level panel data from two waves of the “Firm Analysis and Competitiveness Survey of India” in 2002 and 2005. Treatment is defined as being located in a city that is less than 5 km away from the Golden Quadrilateral. My results show negative and large effects on employment and assets of incumbent firms close to the Golden Quadrilateral. These aggregate effects mask substantial heterogeneity. The results are primarily driven by less productive, smaller and young firms, for which I find significant and very large negative effects on gross profits, product prices, employment and capital stocks. These results, viewed together with existing evidence pointing towards large entry effects, suggest that the Golden Quadrilateral project increased competition along the improved highways even in the short term and improved allocative efficiency.

Preparing Women for Leadership in the Garment Industry (Atonu Rabbani and and Christopher Woodruff)Pilot in progress.

The Impact of a Minimum Wage Increase on Consumer Prices. Evidence from Bangladesh (with Christopher Woodruff) – Fieldwork in progress.

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Methodological research

Measuring Self-efficacy, Executive Function, and Temporal Discounting in Kenya.” (with K. Esopo, D. Mellow, C. Thomas, J. Abraham, P. Jain, C. Jang, N. Otis, M. Riis-Vestergaard, A. Starcev, K. Orkin, J. Haushofer). 2018. Behaviour, Research and Therapy, 101: 30-45
Developing countries have low adherence to medical regimens like water chlorination or antenatal and postnatal care, contributing to high infant and child mortality rates. We hypothesize that high levels of stress affect adherence through temporal discounting, self-efficacy, and executive control. Measurement of these constructs in developing countries requires adaptation of existing measures. In the current study, we adapt psychological scales and behavioral tasks, measuring each of these three constructs, for use among adults in Kenya. We translated and back-translated each measure to Kiswahili and conducted cognitive interviewing to establish cultural acceptability, refined existing behavioral tasks, and developed new ones. Then, in a laboratory session lasting 3 h, participants (N=511) completed the adapted psychological inventories and behavioral tasks. We report the psychometric properties of these measures. We find relatively low reliability and poor correlational evidence between psychological scales and behavioral tasks measuring the same construct, highlighting the challenges of adapting measures across cultures, and suggesting that assays within the same domain may tap distinct underlying processes.