Working papers

The geography of women's opportunity: evidence from Indonesia   [Draft]

Abstract:  Large and persistent differences exist in women’s labor force participation within multiple countries. These persistent differences in employment can arise if where women grow up shapes their work choices. However, they can also arise under endogenous sorting, so that women who want to work move to places where more women work. In this paper, I use rich data from Indonesia to argue that the place women grow up in shapes their participation in the labor market as adults. To do so, I leverage variation coming from women moving across labor markets to estimate the effect on women’s labor force participation of spending more time in their birthplace. My strategy is similar to that of Chetty and Hendren (2018) and compares the labor supply choices of women who currently live in the same location, but who emigrated from their birthplace at different ages. My results indicate that birthplace has strong and persistent effects on adult women’s labor supply. By the time they turn sixteen, women born in a location at the 75th of female employment will be 5 p.p. more likely to work than those born in a 25th percentile location. Place is particularly important during the formative period between 9 and 16 years old. These results suggest that 23 percent of the current spatial inequality in women’s employment is transmitted to the next generation growing up in these locations.

Do elite universities overpay their faculty? (joint with Shulamit Kahn, and Kevin Lang)      [Draft]

Abstract: Previous applications from Abowd, Kramarz, and Margolis (1990) –AKM– found the best firms pay workers over and above their own productivity. These firm rents contribute to overall wage inequality. In this paper, we apply the AKM model to measure whether there are significant firm (university/college) effects on faculty earnings in academia. Specifically, we apply the model to measure the pecuniary rents associated with working as tenure-track faculty at a more prestigious university or college in the United States. To do so, we take advantage of matched employer-employee data from the Survey of Doctorate Recipients. We find little evidence of pecuniary university premiums in the most prestigious US academic institutions. Once we control for urbanicity, the effect of university/college rankings on institutions’ fixed-effects on earnings is statistically insignificant and sufficiently precisely measured that we can rule out anything larger than modest effects. We then relate our findings with those of previous literature.

 Work in progress

Cities, gender, and the urban wage premium

Abstract: It is well known that big U.S. cities pay higher wages, but there is growing evidence that this urban wage premium declined since the eighties (Autor, 2019). In this paper, I use data from U.S. Commuting Zones for the period between 1970 and 2020 to document that the decline in the urban wage premium affected men and women differently. While women were relatively isolated from the premium decline, men with lower education received the brunt of the impact. This caused a large relative increase in women’s urban wage premium: women’s premium went from being on par with men’s in 1970 to being 44% larger in 2010. I go on to argue that these differential trends result from a combination of gender specialization and the evolution of urban skill premiums. Urban premiums decline the most in those skills low-education men use more intensively.

Improving the Link between Vocational Schools and Industry: Evaluation of Teacher Training in Indonesia (joint with Masyhur Hilmy)

Abstract: Building a labor force with adequate technical skills is a pressing challenge for less developed countries (Atkin et al., 2019). Secondary education and, in particular, vocational high schools play a crucial role in addressing this issue. Globally, vocational high schools serve more than 48 million students across low and middle-income countries (EdStats 2022). In this paper, we evaluate the effect of a mass training program for vocational high-school teachers in Indonesia. In 2020, the Indonesian Ministry of Education and Culture (MoEC) rolled out a professional development program for vocational high-school teachers. This was a targeted, intensive training program that matched teachers with potential employers of vocational graduates. These potential employers then provide technical training to teachers. We evaluate the effect of this program on teachers’ knowledge, classroom practices, and teachers' expectations of their students’ outcomes. Our results suggest training had little effect on all outcomes. Moreover, we show that teachers not exposed to this training program did get vocational training on their own. Overall, our results suggest there is little need for the government to provide this kind of professional development program.

Education and skill investment (joint with Costas Cavounidis, Kevin Lang, and Raghav Malhotra)