Essays on Labor Markets in Developing Countries
Abel, Simon Martin
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AbstractLabor market frictions are particularly prevalent in developing countries. My dissertation documents the extent of various market frictions, investigates its economic consequences, and tests interventions aimed at addressing these frictions in the context of South Africa. Chapter 1 documents substantial information asymmetries about workers’ productivity between job seekers and hiring ﬁrms. We design and experimentally test a reference letter and ﬁnd that it leads to employment gains and an overall increase in match quality. Chapter 2 investigates the problem that job seekers fail to follow through on their job search plans, which reduces the available applicant pool for ﬁrms. We conduct a ﬁeld experiment and ﬁnd that a simple planning intervention implemented as part of at government-run job counseling workshop leads to a signiﬁcant increase in job search and job opportunities. Chapter 3 explores discrimination among hiring ﬁrms. I collect survey data and a unique data set of classiﬁed ads and employ a novel quasi-experimental method that exploits variation in the applicant pool composition. Results show that ﬁrms discriminate against immigrant workers and that these job seekers respond by adjusting their search strategy.
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