Department of Economics
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
109 David Kinley Hall, 1407 W. Gregory
Urbana, IL 61801
NBER Working Papers and Publications
|March 2018||Dangers of a Double-Bottom Line: A Poverty Targeting Experiment Misses Both Targets|
with Dean Karlan, Jonathan Zinman: w24379
Two for-profit Philippine social enterprises, aiming to demonstrate corporate social responsibility by increasing microlending to the poor, incorporated a widely-used poverty measurement tool into their loan applications and tested the tool using randomized training content. Treated loan officers were instructed why and how to use the tool for targeting; control group training merely labelled the tool “additional household information”. The targeting training backfired, leading to no additional poor applicants and lower-performing loans. Descriptive evidence suggests the targeting training exacerbated loan officer misperceptions and multitasking problems. Our results help explain why corporate social responsibility efforts are often siloed from core operations.
|November 2014||Exporting and Firm Performance: Evidence from a Randomized Trial|
with David Atkin, Amit K. Khandelwal: w20690
We conduct a randomized experiment that generates exogenous variation in the access to foreign markets for rug producers in Egypt. Combined with detailed survey data, we causally identify the impact of exporting on firm performance. Treatment firms report 16-26 percent higher profits and exhibit large improvements in quality alongside reductions in output per hour relative to control firms. These findings do not simply reflect firms being offered higher margins to manufacture high-quality products that take longer to produce. Instead, we find evidence of learning-by-exporting whereby exporting improves technical efficiency. First, treatment firms have higher productivity and quality after controlling for rug specifications. Second, when asked to produce an identical domestic rug using the ...
|December 2013||Follow the Money: Methods for Identifying Consumption and Investment Responses to a Liquidity Shock|
with Dean Karlan, Jonathan Zinman: w19696
Identifying the impacts of liquidity shocks on spending decisions is difficult methodologically but important for theory, practice, and policy. Using seven different methods on microenterprise loan applicants, we find striking results. Borrowers report uses of loan proceeds strategically, and more generally their reporting depends on elicitation method. Borrowers also interpret loan use questions differently than the key counterfactual: spending that would not have occurred sans loan. We identify the counterfactual using random assignment of loan approvals and short-run follow-up elicitation of major household and business cash outflows, and estimate that about 100% of loan-financed spending is on business inventory.