Research

Working Papers




Recipient of the Susan Schmidt Bies Prizes for Doctoral Student Research on Economics and Public Policy, 2019.

Recipient of the UniCredit Foundation Best Paper Award on Gender Economics 11th, 2021.


Abstract: Women continue to be under-represented in corporate leadership positions. This paper studies whether access to a larger share of female peers in business school affects the gender gap in senior managerial positions. Merging administrative data from a top-10 US business school with public LinkedIn profiles, we first document that female MBAs are 24 percent less likely than male MBAs to enter senior management in the 15 years after graduation. Next, we use the random assignment of students into sections to show that a larger proportion of female MBA section peers increases the likelihood of entering senior management for women but not for men. Effects are primarily accounted for by women moving to female-friendly firms and having a higher likelihood of promotion within these firms. These patterns are concentrated in male-dominated industries where women may face additional barriers in accessing informal networks in the workplace. This suggests that female peers encourage women to sort into firms that support women's career advancement and help them navigate firms' corporate culture. A dyadic analysis shows that key potential mechanisms behind these results include job referrals and gender-specific information transmissions. These findings show that MBA social connections can play a key role in reducing the gender gap in senior management positions.




Recipient of the Susan Schmidt Bies Prizes for Doctoral Student Research on Economics and Public Policy, 2019.


Abstract: Can diversity lead to greater research focus on minority populations in science? Diverse researchers can bring new questions and perspectives, but working in a diverse environment may also inspire scientists, regardless of demographic identity, to pursue new topics. This paper studies whether a gender-diverse academic environment can increase the production of research related to gender. Between 1960 and 1990, 76 all-male US universities, including many elite and prominent research institutions, transitioned to coeducation, generating a sharp increase in gender diversity on campuses. Using a generalized difference-in-differences design, we document a 65\% increase in the number of gender-related research publications authored by scholars at the university. A key mechanism for this result is a shift in the research focus of incumbent, often male, scientists towards more gender-related topics through interactions with students and peers. These findings suggest that a diverse academic environment can influence the direction of scientific research and innovation.



  • The Spillover Effects of Maternity Leave Extensions on Unemployment Insurance [PDF] with Ashley Wong


Abstract: This paper examines the fiscal externality of maternity leave extensions on unemployment insurance using German administrative data. We exploit a reform in Germany to show that extensions of maternity leave reduce mothers' UI takeup by 20% and total unemployment benefits by 22% in the first five years after childbirth. The timing of the reduction suggests the use of UI as a substitute for income replacement in the absence of paid leave. Importantly for welfare calculations, the reduction in UI benefits is substantial and represents almost half of the increase in maternity leave benefits. However, while this reduces the cost of extending maternity leave, it also reduces the mothers' willingness to pay for the policy as the additional maternity leave benefits are offset by the reduction in UI payments. Incorporating effects on UI substantively reduces the implied marginal value of public funds (MVPF) of the policy. We also document considerable heterogeneity of these estimates by pre-birth earnings.



Work in Progress



Registered in the AEA RCT Registry, unique identifying number: AEARCTR-0006439 [Data collection in progress]


Abstract: Search and contracting frictions can hinder the creation of business partnerships and the effectiveness of business collaborations. In developing countries, these relationships are often informal and conducted with family members and friends, suggesting that search costs and contracting frictions can be important barriers to firm growth. We conduct an RCT in Ghana on a sample of 1,772 female entrepreneurs to investigate the effect of an online matching service combined with access to legal information and advisory services on collaborations and firm performance. Specifically, we hypothesized that access to the matching service can alleviate search frictions. In addition, access to legal advisory may help mitigate contracting frictions by formalizing interfirm relationships and lowering risks of collaboration. The results of this study will shed light on the potential collaboration barriers faced by female entrepreneurs.




Abstract: We study a 2001 pension insurance reform in Germany that introduced additional caregiver credits for working mothers with children between the ages of 3 and 10. Using administrative social security data from Germany combined with a difference-in-differences design, we find that the reform leads to a 66.5% increase in yearly retirement contributions during the eligibility period. 66% of the total effect can be explained by a change in the labor market outcomes of eligible mothers, while the remaining 34% is the mechanical effect of the reform. We find a significant increase in employment earnings, driven by both an increase in employment and a switch from marginal to employment subject to social security contributions. This translates into a 9.1 percentage point (18.3%) reduction in the gender gap in lifetime non-marginal earning points. Finally, a simple life-cycle model predicts that the pension reform leads to a 9.8% increase in retirement income and a 12% reduction in the gender gap in old-age income.



  • Saving for a (not so) Rainy Day: A Randomized Evaluation of Savings Groups in Mali with Lori Beaman, Dean Karlan and Bram Thuysbaert


Abstract: High transaction and contracting costs are often thought to create credit and savings market failures in developing countries. The microfinance movement grew largely out of business process innovations and subsidies that reduced these costs. We examine an alternative approach, one that infuses no external capital and introduces no change to formal contracts: an improved "technology" for managing informal, collaborative village-based savings groups. Such groups allow, in theory, for more efficient and lower-cost loans and informal savings, and in practice have been scaled up by international non-profit organizations to millions of members. Individuals save together and then lend the accumulated funds back out to themselves. In a randomized evaluation in Mali, we find improvements in food security, consumption smoothing, and buffer stock savings. Although we do find suggestive evidence of higher agricultural output, we do not find overall higher income or expenditure. We also do not find downstream impacts on health, education, social capital, and female decision-making power. Could this have happened before, without any external intervention? Yes. That is what makes the result striking, that indeed there were no resources provided nor legal institutional changes, yet the NGO-guided, improved informal processes led to important changes for households.





  • Effect of Beliefs and Gender Roles on Girls' Math Education with Ashley Wong.


Registered in the AEA RCT Registry, unique identifying number: AEARCTR-0003054 [Data collection completed]