Working Papers

Hidden in Plain Sight: Asymmetric Information and Hidden Income within the Household

Conference Presentations: AGEW 2024, WB/GU Poverty Conference 2023, Fourth SANEM-World Bank  North America Discussion Forum 2023, CES North America Conference 2023, AMIE 2nd Workshop in Applied Microeconomics 2022, ADE 2022, YES 2022, 14th Joint IOS/APB/EACES Summer Academy, ICDE 2022, NOVAFRICA 2022, NCDE 2022, SEHO 2022, DEVPEC 2022, PACDEV 2022, ACLEC Poster Session 2021

Do household members hide employment income from one another? Consistent with income hiding within the household, I find that respondents in Kenya and Indonesia underestimate labor income of other household members, and underreport own income when other household members are present. Households with measured hiding consume more private goods and transfer more to extended families. I develop and test a household model where each member can strategically underreport income, increasing private consumption at the expense of household efficiency. In equilibrium, cooperation is endogenous and incomplete, as household members collectively allocate reported income, but total income is not allocated efficiently.

Asymmetric Information, Sharing and Consumption Choices: Experimental Evidence from Kenya

Conference Presentations: CSAE 2024, ECBE 2023, NCDE 2023, SEHO 2023, PACDEV 2023, WGAPE Berkeley 2023, AFE 2022

In a lab-in-the-field experiment in western Kenya, I experimentally vary the observability of endowment and study how exogenously unobservable income affects individuals’ choices to share endowment with their spouse and to consume. I find that when endowment is unobservable, both husbands and wives share less with their spouses. In addition, husbands consume significantly more private goods when the endowment is unobservable, while wives do not change their consumption behavior. Opportunistic behavior under asymmetric information is driven by rigid bargaining and high sharing pressure.

Empowered by Adversity: Economic Shocks and Noncognitive Skill Development in Ethiopian Youth 🆕
(with Leonard Wantchekon)

Conference Presentations: Lisbon Economics and Statistics of Education (LESE) 2024

Despite the prevalence of economic shocks that children face in developing countries, there is a limited understanding of what contributes to resilience. We use a longitudinal dataset to study the effect of economic shocks in the household on the development of cognitive and noncognitive skills in Ethiopian adolescents. We find that economic shocks cause a weak reduction in cognitive test scores but a significant increase in noncognitive skills, including generalized self-efficacy, self-esteem, and internal locus of control. Our result indicates a remarkable level of resilience among Ethiopian adolescents and suggests the importance of incorporating noncognitive skills into the education system.

Welfare or Work: Which is Better for Women Empowerment? Evidence from Mexico

Do providing women with conditional cash transfers increase their Pareto weight within the household as much as if they entered employment? Using data between 1997 to 2007 from Mexico's Progresa program (also known as Oportunidades/Prospera), I find that both receiving Progresa transfers and female employment leads to household expenditure reallocation from men's clothing to girls’ and women's clothing. This provides evidence against the household unitary model. Meanwhile, Progresa leads to an increase in boys’ clothing expenditures while female employment leads to a decrease in boys’ clothing expenditures. This suggests that Progresa reallocates household resources from adults to children, while female employment reallocates resources from male family members to female ones.

Selected Works-in-Progress

"Promoting Equality: Do Women Work in Jobs with Lower Promotability?" with Willian Adamczyk Boschetti, Veronica Escudero, Akhila Kovvuri, Lily Liu