Job Search and Self-Control: Experimental Evidence from Ethiopia

This seminar will take place on Zoom

How does self-control affect job search? I revisit this question in a population of women who begin employment in Ethiopia’s ready-made garment industry. Many plan to use their job to financed continued on-the-job search, but fall short of their intentions. I propose self-control problems as a candidate explanation. I elicit a measure of present bias in a tightly controlled experiment and match results to high-frequency survey data that I collect over a period of three months. Present bias is a significant predictor of job search effort, controlling for liquidity and a broad range of covariates. Present-biased workers spend 57 percent less time on job search per week. As a result of reduced search, present-biased workers generate fewer offers and stay in their jobs significantly longer.