Urban Under-Exploration

Despite living in high-density cities, job seekers with low-incomes might only be familiar with a small number of urban locations. We show that underemployed casual workers in Kibera, Nairobi only search for work in a small subset among all nearby locations that are relevant to their occupation. In fact, these long-time Nairobi residents have never traveled to many locations close to where they live. We study the labor market consequences of inducing workers to travel to a location that they have never visited before. We measure impacts on mobility, job search, employment, and earnings. We set up a platform with paid casual jobs where workers search spatially for jobs and choose which jobs to work. Together with survey data, this allows us to separate impacts due to (lack of) awareness, beliefs, and a fixed cost of first-time travel.

RFP Cycle:
  • Full project