Odyssia Ng
PhD Candidate

Stanford University
Department of Economics
579 Serra Mall
Stanford, CA 94305


Development Economics, Economics of Gender
Expected Graduation Date:
June 2019

Curriculum Vitae

Pascaline Dupas (Co-primary)
Marshall Burke (Co-primary)
Marcel Fafchamps

Broadly, my research seeks to determine the root causes of extreme poverty and rigorously evaluate programs that target these causes. Throughout my PhD, my goal has been to produce research that has clear policy implications. My PhD dissertation is a compilation of three chapters on the topics of gender and entrepreneurship in developing countries. The first chapter assesses to what extent discrimination constitutes barriers for female micro-entrepreneurs in India. The second chapter evaluates an innovative policy that aims to improve the lives of women in India by reducing child marriage. Finally, the third chapter identifies the behavioral channels and group dynamics that drive the repayment of microfinance loans in Kenya.


Unpacking the Gender Profit Gap: Evidence from Micro-Enterprises in India
(with Solène Delecourt)
Understanding how the constraints faced by small-scale entrepreneurs interact with gender is crucial to improving growth. A common problem faced when studying the role of gender in entrepreneurship is that women-and men-led businesses are not comparable: they tend to differ in size, industry and capital. Is the gender profit gap driven by differences in the business characteristics, as opposed to the owner's behavior? In other words, do men and women perform differently if given the same business? We conducted a survey of 101 market vendors in India in Summer 2017, confirming that women-owned businesses underperform compared to men. Interestingly, our survey reports large differences in inventory but same markup per rupee, suggesting that giving men and women the same inventory could close the profit gap. We test whether this is the case by proposing an experiment where we set up our own market stalls, recruit male and female vendors and randomly assign them to our stalls. Our experiment enables us to exogenously vary gender, holding the business characteristics - quantity, quality of produce, location - constant. We successfully piloted this experiment in September. Preliminary evidence suggests that differences in the businesses alone do not close the gender gap. We therefore focus on other mechanisms at play, such as client discrimination and seller behavior. Our results will help design interventions to better suit women's needs. Empowering female entrepreneurs not only reduces gender inequality, but also market inefficiencies that hamper overall growth. Moreover, since the gender gap in entrepreneurship is worldwide, the lessons we will derive are applicable to much broader environments.

''My Daughter, My Wealth'': The Effects of a Conditional Cash Transfer Aiming to Reduce Child Marriage in India
Child marriage is a driver of extreme poverty and gender inequality, as it contributes to high-risk pregnancies, domestic violence and lower educational attainment for women. Despite being illegal, it is still widespread, which calls for policies that extend beyond the legal realm. In this paper, I estimate the impact of an innovative, large-scale conditional cash transfer, implemented by the government of Haryana in India in 1994, that incentivizes girls to delay marriage. The program is the first to directly condition a cash transfer on marital status, as young women are only eligible if they are unmarried at age 18. I estimate the program's effects on girls' age of marriage, educational attainment and health outcomes by using the National Family Health Survey and the District Level Household and Facility Survey. I employ a difference-in-difference strategy that exploits the scheme's eligibility criteria by comparing women born before and after 1994, in Haryana and in other Northern Indian states. By rigorously estimating the success of this unique program, this study will provide useful policy recommendations to improve and scale up conditional cash transfers targeting young girls in developing countries.