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Lisa Ho

Job Market Candidate

Research Fields

Development Economics, Labor Economics

Job Market Paper

Bringing Work Home: Flexible Arrangements as Gateway Jobs for Women in West Bengal (with Suhani Jalota and Anahita Karandikar)

Abstract: Several hundred million women want a job but are out of the labor force, often because available opportunities are incompatible with traditional norms about their household roles. In a field experiment with 1,670 households in West Bengal, we offer flexible, short-term data entry jobs which meet households where they are in terms of expectations on women’s domestic responsibilities. We find three sets of results. First, flexibility more than triples job take up, from 15% for an office job to 48% for a job that women can do from home, while multitasking with childcare, and at the hours they choose. Second, taking the perspective of a firm offering flexible work arrangements, flexibility has no adverse effects on the amount of quality-adjusted output that workers produce, but workers are less efficient from home. Third, flexible jobs act as a labor market gateway for women initially out of the labor force: experience with flexible jobs makes women more likely to accept less flexible and outside-the-home jobs in the future. This gateway effect may be explained by changes in attitudes about appropriate behavior for men and women. Flexibility makes a larger difference to the labor supply of women who hold more traditional pre-intervention attitudes, and work experience in turn shifts women and children’s gender attitudes to become less traditional. Thus, flexible work arrangements can both attract women to the labor force and provide a gateway to less flexible jobs.

Working Papers

What Works for Her? Why Work-from-Home Digital Jobs Affect Female Labor Force Participation (with Suhani Jalota)

Abstract: In many developing countries, married women face significant challenges entering the workforce, even for flexible jobs outside the home. This may be due to practical constraints—like safety, travel costs, inadequate wages, and household duties—and entrenched gender norms. We design an experiment to distinguish between the effects of these barriers by establishing new job offices for part-time smartphone-based digital work with minimal practical constraints: local, women-only, <5-minute walking distance, and permitting children. We randomly assigned 3,200 wives in Mumbai to a job offer either from home or from an office and cross-randomized to one of three monthly wage levels (low, medium, high). We find that 56% of housewives started working from home, and despite minimal practical barriers, only 27% took up the office jobs, matching India’s female labor participation rate. Surprisingly, even wages doubling household income did not significantly impact entry. A parallel experiment with husbands showed more responsiveness to wages, and no clear preference for the job location. A follow-up experiment to uncover the mechanism finds that adding a requirement for an only 2-minute daily check-in at the office decreased home job take-up by 25% (explaining half the home-office difference), driven by women from less progressive households. Taken together, the experiments suggest that even beyond practical constraints, norms of domesticity—the expectation that a woman's place is at home—constrain female labor supply in India. Without changes to these norms, home-based jobs may represent the most immediate path to increase their labor force participation.  


Got Beef with Beef? Evidence from a Large-Scale Carbon Labelling Experiment (with Lucy Page) 

Abstract: Food systems account for approximately one-third of total greenhouse gas emissions, and simple shifts across food choices can yield large cuts in emissions. In a randomized field experiment with over 200,000 meal kit customers in the US, we find that carbon footprint labels cause customers to choose lower-emission meals, and that the introduction of labels has positive effects on customer retention and company profits. Both the reduction in emissions and the increase in profits are driven by customers with high baseline beef consumption. We find evidence that the labels act through salience rather than knowledge, and that the effects on meal choices depend on whether customers’ values are aligned with the mission to address climate change through behavioral change.


The Impact of 3G Mobile Internet on Educational Outcomes in Brazil (with Pedro Bessone and Ricardo Dahis)

Abstract: What is the impact of mobile broadband internet on children's test scores? We compare standardized test scores before and after the staggered entry of 3G into Brazil's 5,570 municipalities using a heterogeneity-robust event-study design. We find no effects of mobile internet on test scores for 5th or 9th grade students, and can reject effect sizes of 0.04 standard deviations in both math and Portuguese. Taken together, our results indicate that the arrival of high-speed mobile internet is not sufficient to improve educational outcomes either through direct take-up by individuals or through broader changes to the economy.


The Impact of Large-Scale Social Media Advertising Campaigns on Covid-19 Vaccination: Evidence From Two Randomized Controlled Trials (Lisa Ho, Emily Breza, Abhijit Banerjee, Arun G. Chandrasekhar, Fatima Cody Stanford, Renato Fior, Kelly Holland, Emily Hoppe, Louis-Maël Jean, Lucy Ogbu-Nwobodo, Benjamin A. Olken, Carlos Torres, Pierre-Luc Vautrey, Erica Warner, Esther Duflo and Marcella Alsan). AEA Papers and Proceedings, 113, pp. 653-658, May 2023.

Abstract: COVID-19 vaccines are widely available in wealthy countries, yet many remain unvaccinated. We report on two studies (United States and France) with millions of Facebook users that tested two strategies central to vaccination outreach: health professionals addressing common concerns and motivating "ambassadors" to encourage vaccination in their social networks. We can reject very small effects of any intervention on new first doses (0.16 pp, United States; 0.021 pp, France), with similar results for second doses and boosters (United States). During the Omicron wave, messaging aimed at the unvaccinated or those tasked with encouraging others did not change vaccination decisions.

Work in Progress

The Effects of Mandated Maternity Leave on Young Women’s Labor Market Outcomes (with Garima Sharma, Shreya Tandon, Stephanie Hao, and Pulak Ghosh)

We study the effect of a maternity benefits law in India which extended the mandatory length of benefits that firms had to provide from 12 weeks to 26 weeks. Using data from the Employees Provident Fund Organization, a panel data set from which we infer salary information over time for the universe of formal workers in India with monthly pay of Rs 15k or less, we examine whether the new law affected firms’ propensity to hire new female workers as well as the impacts on the career progression of incumbent workers.