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Poverty entails more than a scarcity of material resources—it also involves a shortage of time. To examine the causal benefits of reducing time poverty, we are conducting a longitudinal field experiment in an urban slum in Kenya with a sample of working mothers, a population who is especially likely to experience severe time poverty. Participants receive vouchers for services designed to reduce their burden of unpaid labor. The effect of these vouchers are compared against equivalently valued unconditional cash transfers (UCTs) and a neutral control condition. Using a pre-post design, we are measuring whether time-saving vouchers increase subjective well-being, lower perceived stress, and reduce relationship conflict as compared to UCTs and a control condition. In doing so, this research tests a model of economic aid that recognizes both financial and temporal constraints. In this talk, interim results will be presented. I will also talk about navigating field data collection constraints and learning opportunities in time of COVID, for interested students and colleagues.
Ashley Whillans is an assistant professor in the Negotiation, Organizations & Markets Unit, teaching the Negotiations course to MBA students. Broadly, she studies how people navigate trade-offs between time and money. Her ongoing research investigates whether and how intangible incentives, such as experiential and time-saving rewards, affect employee motivation and well-being. In both 2015 and 2018, she was named a Rising Star of Behavioral Science by the International Behavioral Exchange and the Behavioral Science and Policy Association. In 2016, she co-founded the Department of Behavioral Science in the Policy, Innovation, and Engagement Division of the British Columbia Public Service. Her research has been published in numerous academic journals and popular media outlets including The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and The Washington Post. Her first book "Time Smart: How to Reclaim Your Time & Live a Happier Life" will be published by Harvard Business Publishing on October 6, 2020, and is currently available for Pre-Order on Amazon.