Working Papers

1. Who is asking and how? The effects of enumerator gender and survey method on measuring social norms and beliefs (Job Market Paper)

Under-reporting and misreporting bias researchers’ perceptions about the respondent’s true beliefs about social norms make them a concern for studying sensitive topics such as social norms and beliefs. Given limited causal evidence on effective ways of capturing sensitive norms, we use a sample of 637 women from the northern Amhara region in Ethiopia to test whether survey methods that may increase respondent privacy affect the reporting of social norms (such as women’s perceived independence, empowerment, and safety). We randomize the type of interview (phone vs in person), and gender of an interviewer to measure the direction of expected bias. Additionally, we explore the effect of rapport conditional on interview type by comparing responses between women who have had prior frequent interactions with our study team and those who have not. Preliminary results show that the reporting of sensitive topics such as physical safety, emotional well-being, and freedom of movement is not significantly different for respondents interviewed via mobile phone and respondents interviewed in person. Gender of enumerator and built-up rapport only affect the reporting of independence of movement. Respondents report lower independence to female enumerators and higher independence if they have a rapport with the survey team. Respondents may be reluctant to reveal honest answers because of social pressure, lack of privacy, shame, taboo, fear of safety, or have normalized patriarchal norms and violence in their minds. Given the importance and increasingly common usage of these questions in surveys for measuring women’s empowerment, traditional methods may compromise accurate measurement by introducing measurement bias. We develop a mechanism to document the direction of this expected bias in traditional surveys as well as in alternate survey methods.

2. Consequences of Female Employment on Domestic Violence- Evidence from Colombia and India

Thirty-five percent of women worldwide experience either physical and/or sexual domestic violence in their lifetime (WHO). Though the social and economic costs of domestic violence are well studied, the literature on determinants of domestic violence is limited. One factor explored by previous research is women's employment outside of the home. There are two main challenges while studying the effects of female employment on domestic violence. First, a women's decision to take part in the labor force can be jointly determined by factors that affect her exposure to domestic violence. I overcome this challenge by creating a proxy for female employment that is exogenous to factors that also cause domestic violence. The proxy for female employment is estimated as a bartik-type demand shifter by interacting nationwide employment shocks weighted by the share of the local labor force that is both female and works in that industry. The second challenge is that most data on domestic violence comes from self-reported surveys, which are problematic because women might systematically misreport experiences of domestic violence because of various reasons such as social norms, stigma, and fear of personal safety. To address this issue of misreporting (or systematic measurement error), I use administrative data on hospitalization records due to domestic violence. Results from 377 municipalities in Colombia indicate that a one percent increase in female employment in the manufacturing sector is associated with a 1.7 percent decline in women's experiences of domestic violence in Colombia. These effects are strongest for municipalities that have higher rates of female employment. In India, I find the opposite effect using data from 600 districts. A one percent increase in female employment is associated with a 0.3 percent increase in reported crime against women.

3. Female employment, Intimate Partner Violence, and Women’s Empowerment in Colombia

Women’s participation in the labor force outside of the house has been proven to be beneficial for women’s empowerment (Anderson & Eswaran, 2009; Jensen, 2012). The effects of FLFP on domestic violence (DV) are mixed, and studies have found that these effects vary based on a woman’s initial bargaining power (Heath, 2014). Understanding this relationship between FLFP and IPV is important in order to minimize any unintended consequences and the associated socio-economic costs while making policy decisions about women’s labor participation. In this paper, we introduce a new stylized approach for studying the effect of FLFP on IPV that explicitly incorporates empowerment’s mediating effect on the relationship between FLFP and IPV. We use a causal mediation approach to model the effects of FLFP on IPV as mediated by WE. We find supporting evidence for previous studies in that FLFP is positively associated with IPV, but increases at a decreasing rate. Our results show, using mediation model estimates, that rising FLFP leads to a decrease in IPV at a lower level of employment. IPV starts decreasing at 60% employment level using the mediation estimates whereas it reduces at 70% employment with estimates from the benchmark model.