Eliciting women’s willingness to take a job. Evidence from displaced and extremely poor women in Cali, Colombia

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March 2016
Paper author(s): 
Susana Martínez-Restrepo
Juan Camilo Mejía
Erika Enríquez

This paper presents a laboratory experiment about labor market preferences for formal and informal jobs among women living in extreme poverty and displaced by violence in Cali, Colombia. In this experiment we elicit the choices that these women make regarding a constant daily income from working at home in small and low-productivity businesses (such as cooking or sewing) against increasing their daily income by working outside the home as an employee. Their income choice is subject to the number of hours away from home, the price of transportation and cost of care or supervision for children and/or adolescents, and between formal and informal jobs. A total of 255 women participated in the laboratory experiment. To elicit intra-household bargaining on labor choices, the Treatment group was composed of married women with their husbands present in the experiment, and the control group of married women without their husbands present at the site. Couples were invited to negotiate when given the different scenarios. Results indicate no significant differences among the treatment and control group for informal jobs. Women with their husbands present were less likely to accept a job for the lower wage options in the formal sector, and more likely to stay at home than their counterparts without their husbands present. Labor preferences also vary according to the cost of childcare and the number of children under the age of 18.


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