Job Market Paper
Monopsony and Gender
I investigate the role of labor market power in driving the gender wage gap in Brazil. I exploit establishment-level demand shocks induced by the end of the Multi-Fiber Arrangement to show that women are substantially less likely than men to separate from their employer following a wage cut. The implied gender difference in monopsony power generates an 18pp wage gap among equally productive workers, explaining half the observed gender wage gap. To study the source of monopsony by gender, I build and estimate a discrete choice model where employers have more monopsony power over women if (i) women strongly prefer their specific employer, all else equal (horizontal difference), or (ii) women have fewer good employers (vertical difference). Of the 18pp gender gap due to monopsony, I estimate 10pp as driven by women’s preference for a specific employer and 8pp by the concentration of good jobs for women in the textile industry. This concentration in turn reflects the concentration of amenities/disamenities across sectors rather than gender-specific comparative advantage. My findings demonstrate that although the textile industry provides women desirable jobs, this desirability confers its employers with higher monopsony power. By contrast, desirable jobs for men are not similarly concentrated.
Collective Bargaining for Women: How Unions Can Create Female-Friendly Jobs (with Viola Corradini & Lorenzo Lagos)
Why aren’t workplaces better designed for women? We show that changing the priorities of those who set workplace policies can create female-friendly jobs. Starting in 2015, Brazil’s largest trade union federation made women central to its bargaining agenda. Neither establishments nor workers choose their union, permitting a difference- in-differences design to study causal effects. We find that “bargaining for women” increases female-centric amenities in collective bargaining agreements, which are then reflected in practice (e.g., more female managers, longer maternity leaves, longer job protection). These changes cause women to queue for jobs at treated establishments and separate from them less—both revealed preference measures of firm value. We find no evidence that these gains come at the expense of employment, workers’ wages, or firm profits. Hence, prioritizing women’s preferences in decision-making can lower within-firm gender inequality through more efficient bargaining.
Depression and Loneliness Among the Elderly in Low and Middle-Income Countries (with Abhijit Banerjee, Esther Duflo, Erin Grela, Madeline McKelway, Frank Schilbach, and Girija Vaidyanathan)
revise and resubmit, Journal of Economic Perspectives
The mental health of the elderly in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) is a largely neglected subject, both by policy and research. We combine data from the health and retirement family of surveys in seven LMICs (plus the US) to document that depressive symptoms among those aged 55 and above are more prevalent in those countries and increase sharply with age. Depressive symptoms in one survey wave are associated with a greater decline in functional abilities and higher probability of death in the next wave. Using data from a panel survey we conducted in Tamil Nadu with a focus on elderly living alone, we document that social isolation, poverty, and health challenges are three of the leading correlates of depression. We discuss potential policy interventions in these three domains, including some results from our randomized control trials in the Tamil Nadu sample.
Impacts of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and Cash Transfers on Depression and Impairment of Elderly Living Alone: A Randomized Trial in India (Manuscript available upon request)
(with Abhijit Banerjee, Esther Duflo, Erin Grela, Madeline McKelway, Frank Schilbach, Miriam Sequeira, and Girija Vaidyanathan)
revise and resubmit (second round), Annals of Internal Medicine
This paper studies the impact of phone-delivered cognitive behavioral therapy and/or a cash transfer on depression and functional impairment in a sample of low-income elderly living alone in India. Each of the three treatment arms --- therapy only, therapy plus cash, and cash only --- reduced depression and functional impairment three weeks post treatment. These treatment effects do not persist: we find no impacts on depression or functional impairment from any of the treatments three months after intervention. Participants appear to value the benefits of therapy: 30% of participants prefer another person to receive therapy rather than a cash transfer of an equivalent amount as our cash treatment. This fraction of participants is significantly higher in the group assigned both therapy and cash, suggesting that first-hand experience with both interventions increases participants’ appreciation of therapy’s benefits.