Department of Economics
Teaching 2017-2018: Econometrics 1 (Term 2)
Fields: Development Economics, Applied Microeconomics
“Stress Management Practices, Owner Well-Being, and Firm Outcomes in Bangladesh” (Job Market Paper)
[Link to Project's Website]
This paper studies the impact on well-being and business outcomes from teaching stress-management practices to small firm owners in Bangladesh. Female owners were randomly assigned either to a treatment group that received a 10-week Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) course featuring priority-setting and relaxation techniques, or to a control group exposed to Empathic Listening. CBT leads to large initial reductions in owner stress, but no initial increase in firm profits. Six months after receiving CBT, owners in sectors with a low concentration of women show large and significant effects on stress, and their firms show increased profits. By contrast, owners in female-dominated sectors experience a short-lived reduction in stress, and firms show no changes in profits. The large post-treatment differences in well-being and profits between industries suggest that the ability to manage stress is malleable, and that industry choice proxies for traits that are strongly correlated with returns to training.
“Willingness to Accept Preschool Incentives in Urban Bangladesh” (with Atonu Rabbani)
We use a modified Becker-DeGroot-Marschak (BDM) mechanism to elicit the willingness to accept a cash incentive to try a free childcare service in low-income communities in urban Bangladesh. We invited 635 households with preschool-age children to participate in the BDM. The median and modal bids (amount of incentive desired) were 500 Bangladeshi Taka, approximately 6 US dollars. Respondents living in low-quality dwellings demanded significantly smaller incentives, but the occupational choice of different household members was not systematically correlated with the amount bid. Of the 193 households that won the incentive, 16 visited the centre in the month following the payment, and 9 enrolled their child. Our findings suggest that households underestimated the size of the incentive they would require to try the service, and that small, one-time cash transfers alone are unlike to produce significant increases in preschool enrollment in Bangladesh.
“Urban Life, Employment and Well-Being in Bangladesh” (with A. Rabbani and C. Woodruff)
We study the correlations between physical and mental well-being, employment and household infrastructure in a sample of 1,778 low-income residents of Greater Dhaka, Bangladesh. Women have lower well-being levels than men, and urban dwellers have lower well-being levels than residents of peri-urban areas, even after controlling for occupation, consumption and household infrastructure. Participation in paid employment is correlated with lower well-being for women, but the effects are concentrated on women who own a business or work as domestic helpers. Female garment workers, the largest occupational group among women, fare no worse than housewives or women in other occupations. Proximity to central Dhaka is correlated with higher access to improved sanitation but worse health. Peri-urban dwellers spend fewer days sick and with fever than those living in the city.