Essays in Development Economics
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CitationSingh, Niharika. 2020. Essays in Development Economics. Doctoral dissertation, Harvard University Graduate School of Arts and Sciences.
AbstractThis dissertation focuses on topics concerning labor and education markets in South Asia. The first chapter, joint with A. Nilesh Fernando and Gabriel Z. Tourek, asks whether frictions in the labor recruitment process for small firms in India constrain the hiring of labor. Over 1,500 small, urban firms looking to hire on an online job platform are experimentally provided with recruitment assistance— access to premium services that increase the supply of applicants to vacancies and/or access to identity verification services for applicants that may improve trust in jobseekers. When both services are offered together, firms are more likely to hire from the platform, but individually, we do not find evidence of hiring impacts despite increased employer engagement with applications from access to premium services. Our results point to trust playing a mediating role in the hiring process for firms. The second chapter, joint with A. Nilesh Fernando, evaluates the impacts of a regulatory program implemented by the Sri Lankan government targeting local recruitment agencies that send migrant workers abroad to international destinations. The program creates reputational incentives for agencies by publicly revealing their quality in the market. We find that the program improves match quality between foreign employers and local recruitment agencies by inducing greater screening from both parties, leading to improvements in contractual amenities and salaries for migrant workers. The final chapter considers the equilibrium impacts of unconditional cash grants to low-cost private schools in Pakistan. This work is co-authored with Tahir Andrabi, Jishnu Das, Asim I. Khwaja, and Selcuk Ozyurt. We experimentally allocate cash grants to either one or all private schools in a village. Enrollment and revenues increase in both conditions, but test scores only increase when all schools receive grants and this increase is accompanied by higher fees, and a greater focus on teachers. We argue that given underlying competitive market conditions, increasing financial saturation can generate endogenous incentives to invest in quality.
Citable link to this pagehttps://nrs.harvard.edu/URN-3:HUL.INSTREPOS:37368858
- FAS Theses and Dissertations 
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