My main research focus is on labor markets in developing economies, particularly how to reduce search and matching frictions to increase employment, earnings and productivity. I also study how labor markets intersect with government policies on income support and public works employment.

My two secondary research agendas are on human capital and on methods and measurement.

You can read more about this work in my research statement and in the papers below.


Job Search and Hiring with Limited Information about Workseekers' Skills

Summary: Assessing and certifying young workseekers' skills increased their employment rate and earnings, by helping them to better target their job search and submit more informative job applications.

Co-authors: Eliana Carranza, Kate Orkin, Neil Rankin

American Economic Review, 2022, 112(11), 3547-3585.

[published paper]     [final preprint version]      [replication code, data, questionnaires]      [AEA trial registry]      [guide for implementing skill certification interventions]

Coverage: GlobalDev, J-PAL, VoxDev

LinkedIn(to) Job Opportunities: Experimental Evidence from Job Readiness Training

Summary: Training disadvantaged youths to open and use LinkedIn accounts increased their employment rate, probably by helping them acquire more information about prospective employers.

Co-authors: Laurel Wheeler, Eric Johnson, Patrick Shaw, Marissa Gargano

American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, 2022, 14(2), 101-125.

[published paper]      [final preprint version]      [replication code, data, questionnaires]      [AEA trial registry]      [training curriculum]

Quasi-Experimental Evaluation of Alternative Sample Selection Corrections

Summary: In a setting where some students can select into taking college entrance exams and otherwise similar students are required to take them, semiparametric selection correction methods address selection bias better than parametric correction methods, but not better than simple OLS regressions that do not correct for selection.

Co-author: Joshua Hyman

Journal of Business and Economic Statistics, 2022, 40(3), 950-964.

[published paper]      [final preprint version]      [replication code]

Call Me Maybe: Experimental Evidence on Frequency and Medium Effects in Microenterprise Surveys

Summary: Phone surveys of microenterprises yield data quality almost as high as in-person surveys at lower costs, and allow higher-frequency surveys that better measure enterprise dynamics.

Co-authors: Kate Orkin, Simon Quinn

World Bank Economic Review, 2020, 34(2), 418-443.

[published paper]      [final preprint version]      [replication code, data, questionnaires]      [AEA trial registry]

Academic Peer Effects with Different Group Assignment Rules: Residential Tracking versus Random Assignment

Summary: Tracking students into university dormitories based on past academic performance hurt low-scoring students and had little effect on high-scoring students, leading to lower average grades and higher inequality.

American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, 2018, 10(3), 345-369.

[published paper]      [final preprint version]      [replication code]

Working Papers

Aspiring to a Better Future: Can a Simple Psychological Intervention Reduce Poverty?

Summary: A short intervention to raise aspirations and encourage long-term forward planning increases economic investment and reduces poverty, cost-effectively relative to cash transfers, probably by increasing reference points for future consumption, but does not enhance the effectiveness of cash transfers.

Co-authors: Kate Orkin, Mahreen Mahmud, Richard Sedlmayr, Johannes Haushofer, Stefan Dercon

Revisions requested at the Review of Economic Studies.

[paper - updated 2024/02]      [AEA trial registry]

Why Don’t Jobseekers Search More? Barriers and Returns to Search on a Job Matching Platform

Summary: Lowering jobseekers' psychological costs of initiating job applications on a platform increases their application rate by 600% without substantially lowering the average return to each job application.

Co-authors: Kate Vyborny ⓡ Nivedhitha Subramanian ⓡ Erica Field ⓡ 

Revisions requested at the Journal of Labor Economics.

[paper - updated 2024/03]      [AEA trial registry]

Coverage: IGC, VoxDev

Jobseekers’ Beliefs about Comparative Advantage and (Mis)Directed Search

Summary: When jobseekers learn more about their comparative advantage over different skills, they redirect job search toward jobs that match their skills and increase their earnings.

Co-authors: Andrea Kiss ⓡ Kate Orkin ⓡ Lukas Hensel ⓡ 

[paper - updated 2024/04]      [AEA trial registry]

Quality-Quantity Tradeoffs in Pricing Public Secondary Education

Summary: Eliminating tuition fees for public secondary schools increased enrollment in early secondary grades but decreased graduation exam passes, potentially due to crowding.

[paper - updated 2019/08]

Heterogeneity in the Efficiency of Intrahousehold Resource Allocation: Empirical Evidence and Implications for Investment in Children 

Summary: Older households bargained more efficiently over intrahousehold resource allocation, allowing them to invest more resources in their children's education.

Co-author: Manuela Angelucci

[paper - updated 2016/12]

Selected Work in Progress

Digital Services Export Work

Co-authors: Laurel WheelerIgnacio Rodriguez HurtadoCaroline KariukiKate Orkin

[AEA trial registry]

Distributional Consequences of Cash Transfers

Co-authors: Stefan Dercon, Rossa O'Keeffe-O'Donovan, Kate Orkin, Natalie Quinn

[AEA trial registry]

Hiring on Soft Skills or Qualifications

Co-authors: Kate OrkinJennifer KadesLukas Hensel

[AEA trial registry]

Misreported Applicant Qualifications: Implications for Job Search and Hiring

Co-authors: Erica Field, Nivedhitha Subramanian, Kate Vyborny

[AEA trial registry]

Total Recall: Designing Employment and Job Search Surveys

Co-authors: Erica Field, Nivedhitha Subramanian, Kate Vyborny

[AEA trial registry]