Ashraf, Nava, Oriana Bandiera, and Kelsey B Jack. “No Margin, No Mission? A Field Experiment on Incentives for Public Services Delivery”. (2014). Web. Publisher's VersionAbstract

We conduct a field experiment to evaluate the effect of extrinsic rewards, both financial and non-financial, on the performance of agents recruited by a public health organization to promote HIV prevention and sell condoms. In this setting: (i) non-financial rewards are effective at improving performance; (ii) the effect of both rewards is stronger for pro-socially motivated agents; (iii) the effect of both rewards is stronger when their relative value is higher. The findings illustrate that extrinsic rewards can improve the performance of agents engaged in public service delivery, and that non-financial rewards can be effective in settings where the power of financial incentives is limited. 

Baldiga, Katherine. “Gender Differences in Willingness to Guess”. Management Science 60.2 (2014): , 60, 2, 434-448. Web. Publisher's VersionAbstract

We present the results of an experiment that explores whether women are less willing than men to guess on multiple-choice tests. Our test consists of practice questions from SAT II history tests; we vary whether a penalty is imposed for a wrong answer and the salience of the evaluative nature of the task. We find that when no penalty is assessed for a wrong answer, all test takers answer every question. But, when there is a penalty for wrong answers, women answer significantly fewer questions than men. We see no differences in knowledge of the material or confidence in the test takers, and differences in risk preferences explain less than half of the observed gap. Making the evaluative aspect of the test more salient does not impact the gender gap. We show that, conditional on their knowledge of the material, test takers who skip questions do significantly worse on our test.

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Contreras, Juan Manuel, Mahzarin Banaji, and Jason P Mitchell. “Multivoxel Patterns in Fusiform Face Area Differentiate Faces by Sex and Race”. PLoS One 87 (2013). Web. Publisher's VersionAbstract

Although prior research suggests that fusiform gyrus represents the sex and race of faces, it remains unclear whether fusiform face area (FFA)–the portion of fusiform gyrus that is functionally-defined by its preferential response to faces–contains such representations. Here, we used functional magnetic resonance imaging to evaluate whether FFA represents faces by sex and race. Participants were scanned while they categorized the sex and race of unfamiliar Black men, Black women, White men, and White women. Multivariate pattern analysis revealed that multivoxel patterns in FFA–but not other face-selective brain regions, other category-selective brain regions, or early visual cortex–differentiated faces by sex and race. Specifically, patterns of voxel-based responses were more similar between individuals of the same sex than between men and women, and between individuals of the same race than between Black and White individuals. By showing that FFA represents the sex and race of faces, this research contributes to our emerging understanding of how the human brain perceives individuals from two fundamental social categories.

Seabury, Seth A, Amitabh Chandra, and Anupam B Jena. “Trends in the Earnings of Male and Female Health Care Professionals in the United States, 1987 to 2010”. JAMA Internal Medicine 173.18 (2013): , 173, 18, 748-1750. Web. Publisher's VersionAbstract

Nearly 40 years after the adoption of the Title IX Amendments of the US Civil Rights Act, women account for almost 50% of US medical students and more than one-third of all physicians. Historically, female physicians have earned considerably less than male physicians, though in the 1990s much of this was attributable to gender differences in specialty choice and hours worked. However, more recent data suggest that female physicians currently earn less than male physicians even after adjustment for specialty, practice type, and hours worked. Salary differences between men and women currently exist among physician researchers as well. This raises questions about whether the gender gap in earnings among US physicians has closed over time, particularly compared with the earnings gap for other health care professionals and workers overall. Comparing earnings of male and female physicians over time is important in assessing the impact of policies to promote gender equality among physicians.

Hancock, Kathleen J, Matthew A Baum, and Marijke Breuning. “Women and Pre-Tenure Scholarly Productivity in International Studies: An Investigation into the Leaky Career Pipeline”. International Studies Perspective 14.4 (2013): , 14, 4, 507-527. Web. Publisher's VersionAbstract

Why are women still relatively scarce in the international studies profession? Although women have entered careers in international studies in increasing numbers, they represent increasingly smaller percentages as they move from PhD student to full professor. Our survey investigates why this is so, focusing on the assistant professor years, which are crucial to succeeding in the profession. We found that there are significant differences in publication rates, as well as differences in research focus (traditional subjects vs. newer subfields) and methodologies (quantitative vs. qualitative). Further, women and men have different perceptions of official and unwritten expectations for research, and policies regarding faculty with children may affect how successful women are in moving up the ladder. Taken together, these findings suggest reasons for the continued “leakiness” of the career pipeline for women and some potential solutions.

Ashraf, Nava, Erica Field, and Jean Lee. “Household Bargaining and Excess Fertility: An Experimental Study in Zambia”. (2013). Web. Publisher's VersionAbstract

We posit that household decision-making over fertility is characterized by moral hazard due to the fact that most contraception can only be perfectly observed by the woman. Using an experiment in Zambia that varied whether women were given access to contraceptives alone or with their husbands, we find that women given access with their husbands were 19% less likely to seek family planning services, 25% less likely to use concealable contraception, and 27% more likely to give birth. However, women given access to contraception alone report a lower subjective well-being, suggesting a psychosocial cost of making contraceptives more concealable.

Bowles, Hannah Riley, and Linda Babcock. “How Can Women Escape the Compensation Negotiation Dilemma? Relational Accounts Are One Answer”. Psychology of Women Quarterly 37 (2013): , 37, 80-96. Web. Publisher's VersionAbstract

Policy makers, academics, and media reports suggest that women could shrink the gender pay gap by negotiating more effectively for higher compensation. Yet women entering compensation negotiations face a dilemma: They have to weigh the benefits of negotiating against the social consequences of having negotiated. Research shows that women are penalized socially more than men for negotiating for higher pay. To address this dilemma, the authors test strategies to help women improve both their negotiation and social outcomes in compensation negotiations.

In Study 1, communicating concern for organizational relationships improved female negotiators’ social outcomes, and offering a legitimate account for compensation requests improved negotiation outcomes. However, neither strategy—alone or in combination—improved both women’s social and negotiation outcomes.

Study 2 tested two strategies devised to improve female negotiators’ social and negotiation outcomes by explaining why a compensation request is legitimate in relational terms. Results showed that, although adherence to the feminine stereotype is insufficient, using these “relational accounts” can improve women’s social and negotiation outcomes at the same time. Normative implications of conformity to gender stereotypes to reduce gender pay disparities are discussed.

Feigenberg, Ben, Erica Field, and Rohini Pande. “The Economic Returns to Social Interaction: Experimental Evidence from Microfinance”. Review of Economic Studies (2013). Web. Publisher's VersionAbstract

Microfinance clients were randomly assigned to repayment groups that met either weekly or monthly during their first loan cycle, and then graduated to identical meeting frequency for their second loan. Long-run survey data and a follow-up public goods experiment reveal that clients initially assigned to weekly groups interact more often and exhibit a higher willingness to pool risk with group members from their first loan cycle nearly two years after the experiment. They were also three times less likely to default on their second loan. Evidence from an additional treatment arm shows that, holding meeting frequency fixed, the pattern is insensitive to repayment frequency during the first loan cycle. Taken together, these findings constitute the first experimental evidence on the economic returns to social interaction, and provide an alternative explanation for the success of the group lending model in reducing default risk.

Cohen, Dara Kay. “Female Combatants and the Perpetration of Violence: Wartime Rape in Sierra Leone Civil War”. World Politics 65.3 (2013): , 65, 3, 383-415. Web. Publisher's VersionAbstract

Much of the current scholarship on wartime violence, including studies of the combatants themselves, assumes that women are victims and men are perpetrators. However, there is an increasing awareness that women in armed groups may be active fighters who function as more than just cooks, cleaners, and sexual slaves. In this article, the author focuses on the involvement of female fighters in a form of violence that is commonly thought to be perpetrated only by men: the wartime rape of noncombatants. Using original interviews with ex-combatants and newly available survey data, she finds that in the Sierra Leone civil war, female combatants were participants in the widespread conflict-related violence, including gang rape. A growing body of evidence from other conflicts suggests that Sierra Leone is not an anomaly and that women likely engage in conflict-related violence, including sexual violence, more often than is currently believed. Many standard interpretations of wartime rape are undermined by the participation of female perpetrators. To explain the involvement of women in wartime rape, the author argues that women in armed group units face similar pressure to that faced by their male counterparts to participate in gang rape. The study has broad implications for future avenues of research on wartime violence, as well as for policy.

Cohen, Dara Kay, Amelia Hoover Green, and Elizabeth Jean Wood. Wartime Sexual Violence: Misconceptions, Implications, and Ways Forward. Washington, D.C. : United States Institute of Peace, 2013. Web. Publisher's VersionAbstract


  • Wartime rape is neither ubiquitous nor inevitable. The level of sexual violence differs significantly across countries, conflicts, and particularly armed groups. Some armed groups can and do prohibit sexual violence. Such variation suggests that policy interventions should also be focused on armed groups, and that commanders in effective control of their troops are legally liable for patterns of sexual violence they fail or refuse to prevent.  
  • Wartime rape is also not specific to certain types of conflicts or to geographic regions. It occurs in ethnic and non-ethnic wars, in Africa and elsewhere.  
  • State forces are more likely to be reported as perpetrators of sexual violence than rebels. States may also be more susceptible than rebels to naming and shaming campaigns around sexual violence.  
  • Perpetrators and victims may not be who we expect them to be. During many conflicts, those who perpetrate sexual violence are often not armed actors but civilians. Perpetrators also are not exclusively male, nor are victims exclusively female. Policymakers should not neglect nonstereotypical perpetrators and victims.  
  • Wartime rape need not be ordered to occur on a massive scale. Wartime rape is often not an intentional strategy of war: it is more frequently tolerated than ordered. Nonetheless, as noted, commanders in effective control of their troops are legally liable for sexual violence perpetrated by those troops.  
  • Much remains unknown about the patterns and causes of wartime sexual violence. In particular, existing data cannot determine conclusively whether wartime sexual violence on a global level is increasing, decreasing, or holding steady. Policymakers should instead focus on variation at lower levels of aggregation, and especially across armed groups.
Field, Erica, et al.Does the Classic Microfinance Model Discourage Entrepreneurship among the Poor? Experimental Evidence from India”. American Economic review 103.6 (2013): , 103, 6, 2196-2226. Web. Publisher's VersionAbstract
Do the repayment requirements of the classic microfinance contract inhibit investment in high-return but illiquid business opportunities among the poor? Using a field experiment, we compare the classic contract which requires that repayment begin immediately after loan disbursement to a contract that includes a two-month grace period. The provision of a grace period increased short-run business investment and long-run profits but also default rates. The results, thus, indicate that debt contracts that require early repayment discourage illiquid risky investment and thereby limit the potential impact of microfinance on microenterprise growth and household poverty.
Cohen, Dara Kay. “Explaining Rape during Civil War: Cross-National Evidence (1980–2009)”. American Political Science Review 107.3 (2013): , 107, 3, 461-477. Web. Publisher's VersionAbstract

Why do some armed groups commit massive wartime rape, whereas others never do? Using an original dataset, I describe the substantial variation in rape by armed actors during recent civil wars and test a series of competing causal explanations. I find evidence that the recruitment mechanism is associated with the occurrence of wartime rape. Specifically, the findings support an argument about wartime rape as a method of socialization, in which armed groups that recruit by force—through abduction or pressganging—use rape to create unit cohesion. State weakness and insurgent contraband funding are also associated with increased wartime rape by rebel groups. I examine observable implications of the argument in a brief case study of the Sierra Leone civil war. The results challenge common explanations for wartime rape, with important implications for scholars and policy makers.

Sen, Maya. “Quantifying Discrimination: Exploring the Role of Race and Gender and the Awarding of Subprime Mortgage Loans”. (2012). Print.Abstract

The recent subprime mortgage crisis has brought to the forefront the possibility of discriminatory lending on the basis of race or gender. Using the over 10 million observations collected by the federal government in 2006 through the Home Mortgage Disclosure Act, this paper explores these claims causally. In so doing, the paper explores two possible theories of discrimination: (1) that any discriminatory lending patterns are picking up the fact that minority borrowers went to different lenders, perhaps as a result of predatory lending, and (2) the possibility that individual lenders discriminated against identically situated borrowers. The results presented provide limited evidence for the idea that borrowers of different races went to different lenders, but only in certain regions of the country and only for certain minority groups. In addition, many of these results are sensitive to missing confounders – e.g., financial data like credit scores and down payments, which the federal government does not collect. Ultimately, the results’ sensitivity suggests that more data gathering is in order before definitive assertions can be made by legal and policy actors.

Hanna, Rema, Esther Duflo, and Michael Greenstone. “Up In Smoke: The Influence Of Household Behavior On The Long-run Impact Of Improved Cooking Stoves”. NBER Working Paper (2012). Web. Publisher's VersionAbstract

It is conventional wisdom that it is possible to reduce exposure to indoor air pollution, improve health outcomes, and decrease greenhouse gas emissions in the rural areas of developing countries through the adoption of improved cooking stoves. This belief is largely supported by observational field studies and engineering or laboratory experiments. However, we provide new evidence, from a randomized control trial conducted in rural Orissa, India (one of the poorest places in India), on the benefits of a commonly used improved stove that laboratory tests showed to reduce indoor air pollution and require less fuel. We track households for up to four years after they received the stove. While we find a meaningful reduction in smoke inhalation in the first year, there is no effect over longer time horizons. We find no evidence of improvements in lung functioning or health and there is no change in fuel consumption (and presumably greenhouse gas emissions). The difference between the laboratory and field findings appear to result from households’ revealed low valuation of the stoves. Households failed to use the stoves regularly or appropriately, did not make the necessary investments to maintain them properly, and usage rates ultimately declined further over time. More broadly, this study underscores the need to test environmental and health technologies in real-world settings where behavior may temper impacts, and to test them over a long enough horizon to understand how this behavioral effect evolves over time.

Cohen, Dara Kay, and Amelia Hoover Green. “Dueling incentives: Sexual violence in Liberia and the politics of human rights advocacy”. Journal of Peace Research 49.3 (2012): , 49, 3, 445-458. Web. Publisher's VersionAbstract

Transnational advocacy organizations are influential actors in the international politics of human rights. While political scientists have described several methods these groups use – particularly a set of strategies termed ‘information politics’ – scholars have yet to consider the effects of these tactics beyond their immediate impact on public awareness, policy agendas or the behavior of state actors. This article investigates the information politics surrounding sexual violence during Liberia’s civil war. We show that two frequently-cited ‘facts’ about rape in Liberia are inaccurate, and consider how this conventional wisdom gained acceptance. Drawing on the Liberian case and findings from sociology and economics, we develop a theoretical framework that treats inaccurate claims as an effect of ‘dueling incentives’ – the conflict between advocacy organizations’ needs for short-term drama and long-term credibility. From this theoretical framework, we generate hypotheses regarding the effects of information politics on (1) short-term changes in funding for human rights advocacy organizations, (2) short-term changes in human rights outcomes, (3) the institutional health of humanitarian and human rights organizations, and (4) long-run outcomes for the ostensible beneficiaries of such organizations. We conclude by outlining a research agenda in this area, emphasizing the importance of empirical research on information politics in the human rights realm, and particularly its effects on the lives of aid recipients.

Bowles, Hannah Riley, and Linda Babcock. “A model of when to negotiate: Why women don’t ask”. The Oxford Handbook of Conflict Resolution. New York: Oxford University Press, 2012. 313-331. Web. Publisher's VersionAbstract

Research suggests that women are more likely than men to pass over opportunities to negotiate for higher compensation. Studies from the laboratory, surveys, and field suggest that men are at least four times more likely than women to negotiate for compensation (Babcock & Laschever, 2003; Small, Gelfand, Babcock, & Gettman, 2007). When they do negotiate, women tend to claim smaller percentage increases than men on their initial salary offers (Brett & Stroh, 1997; Gerhart & Rynes, 1991; Stevens, Bavetta, & Gist, 1993). Aghast by women’s apparent lack of negotiating ability as well as the implications of this “gender negotiation gap” for the gender wage gap, both policy makers and professors have proposed additional training for women to raise their negotiating aspirations and effectiveness.

In this chapter, we argue that this apparent perceived bargaining deficiency on women’s part is actually a rational response to the differences in incentives and expectations that men and women face in compensation negotiations—one that is obscured by focusing solely on the immediate material payoffs from negotiation … We propose a two-period model in which employees make decisions about whether to negotiate for higher compensation in period one. Our purpose in creating a mathematical model is to be very concrete about the different effects that negotiating may have on a person’s utility and then to investigate how optimal decisions are affected by the gendered behavioral norms and expectations. 

Gargani, Ghalia, May Al-Dabbagh, and Hannah Riley Bowles. Rethinking Women Leadership Development Programs in the UAE. 2012. Web. Publisher's VersionAbstract

In the increasingly globalized context of the UAE, women’s leadership
development programs have become  high on the agenda of government,
academic and private sector organizations. Accordingly, the UAE
is an interesting location to examine the growth in women’s leadership
development programs and to better understand their evolution, goals and
impacts. These programs vary greatly in levels of impact, some providing
models to follow and continue building upon and others offering a learning
opportunity on what works and what doesn’t in the UAE particularly and
the region more generally. With a roundtable discussion on women’s
leadership development as a backdrop, which brought together experts from
three key sectors (private, public, academic), this policy brief reevaluates
women’s leadership development programs in the UAE. Through a diversity of perspectives, important questions regarding women’s leadership development are posed with the ultimate goal to present key recommendations to policy makers in the UAE about how to improve and strengthen such programs

Field, Erica, et al.Repayment Flexibility Can Reduce Financial Stress: A Randomized Control Trial with Microfinance Clients in India.”. PLoS One 79 (2012). Web. Publisher's VersionAbstract

Financial stress is widely believed to cause health problems. However, policies seeking to relieve financial stress by limiting debt levels of poor households may directly worsen their economic well-being. We evaluate an alternative policy – increasing the repayment flexibility of debt contracts. A field experiment randomly assigned microfinance clients to a monthly or a traditional weekly installment schedule (N = 200). We used cell phones to gather survey data on income, expenditure, and financial stress every 48 hours over seven weeks. Clients repaying monthly were 51 percent less likely to report feeling “worried, tense, or anxious” about repaying, were 54 percent more likely to report feeling confident about repaying, and reported spending less time thinking about their loan compared to weekly clients. Monthly clients also reported higher business investment and income, suggesting that the flexibility encouraged them to invest their loans more profitably, which ultimately reduced financial stress.

Gender diversity and corporate performance. Credit Suisse: Research Institute, 2012. Print.Abstract

The impact of gender diversity on corporate leadership has been widely debated for many years. In our review of the topic, we look at the impact from a global perspective by analyzing the performance of close to 2,400 companies with and without women board members from 2005 onward.

Beaman, Lori, Rohini Pande, and Alexandra Cirone. “Chapter 14: Politics as a Male Domain and Empowerment in India”. The Impact of Gender Quotas. Oxford University Press, 2012. Web. Publisher's VersionAbstract
  • First comparative, multi-country study of the impact of gender quotas across descriptive, substantive and symbolic dimensions of representation
  • Bridges literatures of gender quotas and women's political representation
  • Uses case studies from twelve countries to build broad theories about gender quotas and women's representation