Abstract: Incomplete information can prevent individuals from investing optimally in job search. I test the impact of factual information and experience attending a job fair on individuals' job-search process and outcomes through a field experiment I conduct in the rural Philippines. Using an encouragement design to randomly induce job-fair attendance, I find attendance has a persistent impact on individuals, increasing the likelihood of search in Manila among compliers by 6.2 percentage points and of formal sector employment ten months after the job fair by 13.2 percentage points. I find evidence that these effects are consistent with information or knowledge acquisition as a result of attendance. I also randomly provide individuals with information about minimum qualifications and average wages for the overseas labor market. These do not affect individuals' decisions to look for work overseas, though they affect individuals' beliefs in predictable ways. These results indicate that job-search experience, such as that obtained from attending a job fair, enables potential job seekers to redirect their investments in the labor market.

"Perceived Returns and Job-Search Selection"

Abstract: Adverse selection is a primary concern in the use of incentives to encourage program participation. I examine the impact of subsidizing job-fair attendance on selection into attendance and search through a field experiment I conduct in the Philippines. Subsidizing job-fair attendance through a voucher yields a 37.5-percentage-point, or 300-percent, increase in the likelihood of attendance, and an 8.5-percentage-point, or 89-percent, increase in the likelihood of job application. Consistent with a model in which search costs rise with individuals’ qualification level, attendance increases among both low and highly qualified respondents, and those with the lowest prior likelihood of attendance experience the greatest relative increase in their attendance rates. However, those who are the least qualified attend but do not apply for work, consistent with individuals having unbiased expectations about their own qualifications and application conditional on attendance remaining costly. Combining information with the incentive partially offset this adverse selection. These results suggest that direct incentives for job search may have large effects across a range of qualification levels, but a lack of targeting may lead to low-qualification individuals attending but not participating. Additionally, information can complement incentives to help individuals sort appropriately into search.

"Financial and Informational Barriers to Migration: A Field Experiment in the Philippines", with David McKenzie and Dean Yang

Abstract: International migration offers opportunities for people from developing countries to vastly increase their incomes. Yet to date there is almost no rigorous evidence as to which policies work in expanding access to international migration. We conduct a field experiment in Sorsogon Province in the Philippines to test the efficacy of reducing informational and bureaucratic costs on individuals’ ability to migrate overseas. We provide people with information about how to apply for work overseas, with assistance enrolling in an overseas jobs website, or with a package of financial and staff assistance in applying for a passport. Examining two rounds of follow-up survey data, we find that information has a modest impact on individuals’ decision to look for work abroad, but that other barriers prevent overseas migration. Offering passport assistance has a large, positive effect on the likelihood that individuals obtain passports, which leads to an increased likelihood that individuals take steps to work abroad. These results indicate that while there is wide scope for policymakers to encourage overseas migration, particularly by reducing bureaucratic barriers, information alone is not enough to increase access to migration.  

Work in Progress:
  • "Barriers to Medicaid Participation among Immigrants: A Randomized Experiment," with Tara Watson and Dean Yang
  • “Social Networks and Learning about Job Search”