Research

Main Publications

Immigration, Crime, and Crime (Mis)Perceptions (Slides) (w/P. Dominguez and R. Undurraga) – American Economic Journal: Applied Economics (cond. accepted)

More than Words: Leaders’ Speech and Risky Behavior (Slides) (w/Da Mata and T. Cavalcanti) – American Economic Journal: Economic Policy (forthcoming)

Salience and Accountability: School Infrastructure and Last-Minute Electoral Punishment (Slides) (with R. Durante) – Economic Journal (forthcoming)

Immigration and Labor Market (Mis)Perceptions (with P. Dominguez and R. Undurraga)American Economic Association Papers and Proceedings (2022)

Exposure to Transit Migration, Public Attitudes, and Entrepreneurship (w/ Cevat Giray Aksoy and Sergei Guriev) – Journal of Development Economics (2022)

A Behavioral Intervention to Increase Preschool Attendance in Uruguay (w/ L. Becerra, J. Hernandez, F. Lopez Boo, M. Perez, A. Vazquez, M. Mateo) – Journal of Development Economics (2022)

The Power of Example: Corruption spurs Corruption (Slides) – American Economic Journal: Applied Economics (2021)

Career choice motivation using behavioral strategies (Summary Video) (with G. Elacqua, D. Hincapie, A. Jaimovich, F. Lopez Boo, D. Paredes, A. Roman) – Economics of Education Review (2021)

On the Distributive Costs of Drug-Related Homicides (with Sebastian Galiani and Enrique Seira) Journal of Law and Economics (2015)


Working Papers

Abstract: Using large-scale survey data covering more than 110 countries and exploiting within-country variation across cohorts and surveys, we show that individuals with longer exposure to democracy display stronger support for democratic institutions. We bolster these baseline findings using an instrumental-variables strategy exploiting regional democratization waves and focusing on immigrants’ exposure to democracy before migration. In all cases, the timing and nature of the effects are consistent with a causal interpretation. We also establish that democracies breed their own support only when they are successful: all of the effects we estimate work through exposure to democracies that are successful in providing economic growth, peace and political stability, and public goods.

Link: WP

Abstract: Inequality in access to high-quality teachers is an important driver of student socioeconomic achievement gaps. We experimentally evaluate a novel nation-wide low-cost government program aimed at reducing teacher sorting. Specifically, we tested two behavioral strategies designed to induce teachers to apply to job vacancies in disadvantaged schools. These strategies consisted of an “Altruistic Identity” treatment arm, which primed teachers’ altruistic identity by making it more salient, and an “Extrinsic Incentives” arm, which simplified the information and increased the salience of an existing government monetary-incentive scheme rewarding teachers who work in underprivileged institutions. We show that both strategies are successful in triggering teacher candidates to apply to such vacancies, as well as making them more likely to be assigned to a final in-person evaluation in a disadvantaged school. The effect among high-performing teachers is larger, especially in the “Altruistic” arm. Our results imply that low-cost behavioral strategies can enhance the supply and quality of professionals willing to teach in high-need areas.

Link: IZA WP

Abstract: Inequality in access to high-quality teachers is an important driver of student socioeconomic achievement gaps. We experimentally evaluate a nationwide zero-cost government program in Ecuador to reduce teacher sorting (that is, lower-income students are more likely to attend understaffed schools with less qualified teachers) based on an insight from behavioral economics: order effects. In the treatment arm, the teachers’ job application platform showed hard-to-staff schools first, while in the control group teaching vacancies were displayed in alphabetical order. In both arms, hard-to-staff schools were labeled with the same icon. Teachers in the treatment arm were more likely to apply to hard-to-staff schools, rank them as their highest priority, and be assigned to a job vacancy in one of them. The effects were not driven by inattentive, altruistic, or less-qualified teachers. Instead, choice overload and fatigue seem to have played a role. As teachers in the treatment group were more likely to apply to schools with poorer and lower-performing students that typically have the lowest numbers of applicants per vacancy, the intervention helped to reduce the unequal distribution of qualified teachers across schools of different socioeconomic backgrounds.

Link: IZA WP


Other Publications

Effect of a Social Norm Email Feedback Program on the Unnecessary Prescription of Nimodipine in Ambulatory Care of Older Adults (with F. Torrente, J. Bustin, F. Triskier, A. Tomio, R. Mastai and F. Lopez Boo) – JAMA Network Open

Promoting Handwashing Behavior: The Effects of Large-scale Community and School-level Interventions (with Sebastian Galiani, Paul Gertler, and Alexandra Orsola-Vidal) – Health Economics.


In the field

Humans Against Bots: Scaling-up Behavioral Interventions (AEARCTR-0008269)

Getting out the (swing) vote: a behavioral intervention in Argentina (with G. Cruces, AEARCTR-0008510)

Using stigma reduction strategies to increase program take-up among Afro-descendants: Experimental evidence from Uruguay (AEARCTR-0006549)

Cognitive Dissonance in Prosocial Employment Choices: a Nationwide RCT in Peru

A field experiment about discrimination on Twitter (with Bruno Ferman and Pedro Sant’Anna)

Affective Polarization on Electoral Times: Evidence from Twitter (with Bruno Ferman and Pedro Sant’Anna)

A Behavioral Intervention Through Social Media to Motivate Career Choices (with G. Elacqua, G. Perez, and A. Jaimovich, AEARCTR-0008999)


Work in Progress

Institutions Shape Social Preferences: The Civic Imprint of Democracy (with Daron Acemoglu, Cevat Giray Aksoy and Martin Fiszbein and Carlos Molina)

Skin Color and Public Attitudes Towards Immigrants: Experimental Evidence from Latin America

A Behavioral intervention to reduce tax fraud in Costa Rica (with Ricardo Perez-Truglia and Martin Ardanaz)

Using behavioral strategies to rise WTP to reduce CO2 emissions in the real world: evidence from airline tickets purchases (with JP Rud and LF Fontez)

Single-sex versus co-ed schooling and the formation of gender norms


Technical and Policy Notes

Lessons from behavioral economics to improve treatment adherence in parenting programs: an application to SMS (with Florencia Lopez Boo)

Designing behaviorally informed health interventions: adherence to micronutrient treatment in El Salvador (with Pedro Bernal, Stewart Kettle, Florencia Lopez Boo and Emma Iriarte)

In the Cold Light of Day: A Case Study of Argentina’s 2001-2002 Economic Crisis (HKS Teaching Case Number 2086 – Harvard Kennedy School of Government, with Michael Walton, Eduardo Levy Yeyati and Pilar Tavella)