Working Papers

Batheja D., “Gender peer effects in the workplace: A field experiment in Indian call centers”


Several theories suggest that gender integration in the workplace may have negative effects in gender-segregated societies. This paper presents the results of a randomized controlled trial on the effect of gender integration on employee productivity, conducted in call centers located in five Indian cities. A total of 765 employees were randomized to either mixed gender teams (30-50% female peers) or control groups of same gender teams. I find precisely estimated zero effects on both productivity (intensive margin) and days present during study period (extensive margin) of being assigned to a mixed gender team. I also find that conditional on being assigned to mixed gender teams, women with high autonomy have higher proportion of days worked in the study period than women with low autonomy. There is an increase in the secondary outcome of peer monitoring and team support for women assigned to mixed gender teams relative to the control team. I find an increase in the secondary outcomes of knowledge sharing, dating and comfort with the opposite gender for male employees in mixed gender teams, relative to all male teams.

Media coverage: Ideas for India

Funding: International Growth Centre (IGC), BLUM Initiative


Batheja D. and Deolalikar A., “Effect of co-residence with parents-in-law on female labor force participation”


This paper studies the impact of co-residence with parents-in-law on female labor force participation (FLFP). We study this in the Indian context where presence of parents-in-law is common in the household. For women with young children, having a mother-in-law or father-in-law living nearby might have a positive effect on labor supply because the grandparents might provide childcare transfers. On the other hand, the parents-in-law could enforce traditional norms that constrain daughter-in-law’s labor supply. We use two rounds of IHDS panel data for the analysis taking death of a healthy parent-in-law as the exogenous variation. Our results show that co-residence with father-in-law has a significantly negative effect on women’s labor supply. Depending on the specification, losing one’s father-in-law increases the labor force participation of women by approximately 9 to 13 percentage points, compared to a similar household where the father-in-law still co-resides in the second round. There is some effect for the loss of a working mother-in-law on FLFP, providing evidence to added worker effect in the household.


Batheja D., and Hirshleifer S., "Impact of Air Pollution on Employee Productivity: Evidence from Indian Call Centers"


We studied the effect of pollution on both extensive and intensive margins of productivity, using a daily panel of productivity data (10-16 weeks) from two call centers located in five Indian cities. We focused on the effect of pollution above 35.4 μg/m 3 PM2.5, which is viewed as harmful according to both WHO and EPA guidelines. We find that on days in which pollution is above this threshold, average productivity decreases by a statistically significant 0.19 standard deviations. We further explore changes in productivity by whether a call center team works in an inbound process that receives customer support calls or an outbound process that makes sales calls. There is a 0.12 SD reduction in productivity for inbound processes, ith a 6.7% reduction in calls answered on high pollution days. In outbound processes productivity is reduced by 0.4 SD, which corresponds with an efficiency loss of 14.6% as measured by sales per call. We also find a precisely estimated zero effect on attendance on high pollution days.



Work in Progress

Batheja D., Hirshleifer S. and Kaur, O., “Does certification increase returns to human capital: A field experiment in India”


India has experienced a fourfold increase in tertiary enrollment over two decades, which has coincided with high rates of unemployment for college graduates. In particular, it is difficult for students to convey information about their human capital to employers if they graduate from colleges that are perceived to be of low quality. As a result, standardized exit exams created by private companies have become widespread. Such certification can improve labor market outcomes by allowing potential employees to credibly indicate their level of competence. This project studies the impact of certification on students entering the labor market as well as on employers. It has two components: a) an RCT that studies the impact of student certification on employment outcomes, b) a full-scale audit study RCT that measures the impact of certification on hiring decisions, particularly in relation to gender discrimination. We have received funding from JPAL’s PPE Initiative to conduct this study.


Funding: JPAL's Post-Primary Education (PPE) Inititiative

Photos from a field experiment in Bihar, India