FIELDS OF INTEREST
Development Economics, Labor Economics, Economics of Education and Applied Econometrics.
OVERVIEW OVER MY RESEARCH AGENDA
I. One of my main areas of interest is analyzing the role of information and individuals' perceptions in choices under uncertainty, such as educational decisions, consumption choices, (agricultural) activity choices and decision about compliance with respect to government policies.
1. Consumption: Goal of this paper is to disentangle the role of information and insurance in explaining excess smoothness of consumption (i.e. fact that people respond less to permanent shocks than predicted by permanent income hypothesis). We test the hypothesis that individuals anticipate (in part) what researchers term a shock and therefore have incorporated this already into their consumption plans beforehand by using data on individuals' subjective income expectations.
(a) What explains large income gradient in college enrolment in Mexico? Differences in expected returns (or perceived risks) between poor and rich, or credit constraints?
"Understanding the Income Gradient in College Attendance in Mexico: The Role of Heterogeneity in Expected Returns", Revision requested at Quantitative Economics.
(b) Intrahousehold decision-making: Who participates in education decisions: only parents or also children? Does it depend on age and gender of child? We use subjective expectations of both parents and children to analyze whose expectations are "better" in predicting education choice.
"Education Choices and Returns to Schooling: Intrahousehold Decision Making, Gender and Subjective Expectations." (with Orazio Attanasio), Revision requested at Journal of Development Economics
c) Perceived returns in labor and marriage market: What is the relative weight of these determinants? Are there differences by gender?
3. Agricultural activity choices (work in progress):
We analyze the (perceived) risk-return trade-offs that farmers in rural Malawi are facing and whether they diversity in their agricultural decisions. We collected three rounds of data asking farmers about perceived outcomes with respect to several agricultural activities (including conditional distributions to understand perceived risks and correlations) and actual outcomes.
"Insurance Networks, Subjective Expectations and Activity Choice in Malawi" (with Helene Bie Lilleor, Chiara Binelli and Christopher Ksoll) (coming soon)
4. Learning about the enforcement of government policies:
Most government policies or programs are only imperfectly enforced. This is often neglected in the literature, but is likely to have crucial implications for the effectiveness of programs/policies. We provide evidence on whether people learn about the strictness of enforcement from own experience and/or from experiences of peers and adjust their behavior accordingly.
"Learning about the Enforcement of Conditional Welfare Programs and Behavioral Responses: Evidence from Bolsa Familia in Brazil" (with Eliana La Ferrara and Fernanda Brollo) (under revision, coming soon)
II. The second area I am interested in is related to the implementation of government policies. In particular, we analyze the implementation and implications of one of the largest conditional cash transfer programs in the world, the "Bolsa Familia" program in Brazil (joint work with Fernanda Brollo and Eliana La Ferrara).
1. Learning about the enforcement of government policies (see also above): We analyze the updating process of households with respect to the enforcement of government policies (see above).
2. Political economy considerations and enforcement (work in progress): A government might try to influence voters via the instrument of enforcement/punishment (or lack thereof) of recipients of conditional social programs. Do we see attempts of governments to use this instrument? How do voters respond to this instrument?
3. Implementation of government policies and (side)effects on informality (work in progress): Program eligibility depends on families' income. We make use of changes in government policies leading to systematic checks of the income of formal sector workers, and exploit the fact that information about these checks is transmitted via news announcements and via learning from peers' families who had to leave the program due to the detection of violation of income thresholds. We test if individuals at the margin are induced to move to the informal sector in response.
4. Structural model of household optimization behavior (work in progress): We analyze households' decisions to send children to school or not depending on local agricultural prices, parental occupation, family structure, program transfers, time remaining in program and so forth.
III. Lastly, I am interested in estimating the returns to education in the labor market, marriage market and in terms of child quality (and in analyzing effects on timing of career, marriage and fertility).
1. Role of perceived labor and marriage market returns in college attendance decisions (see also above):
2. Single-sex schooling and effects on marriage market outcomes and fertility (work in progress):
"The Impact of Single-Sex Schools on Labor and Marriage Market Outcomes of Boys and Girls (with Lina Cardoso) (coming soon)
3. Effects of attending a higher ranked ("elite") university:
Estimating the effects of attending a higher ranked university on labor and marriage market outcomes and on child quality poses two major challenges, the identification of causal effects and data availability. Our strategy to overcome these problems exploits the unique characteristics of the Chilean university system. In Chile the admission to university is centrally administered and is based solely on individuals' performance in a national university entrance exam and the high school grade. This system thus constitutes an ideal setting for the application of a regression discontinuity design. The second advantage is the availability of data on long run outcomes, such as labor market outcomes, information on the timing of marriage and children and on the quality of spouses and children (joint work with Matthias Messner and Alex Solis).
(a) Returns to getting into a higher ranked ("elite") university in the labor and marriage market
(b) Career, marriage and fertility (work in progress)
(c) Child quality (work in progress)