Research

Publications

The Power of Example: Corruption spurs CorruptionAmerican Economic Journal: Applied Economics (Forthcoming)

EBRD Pocket Economics PodcastFoco Economico, Expansion-CNN , Letras Libres

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

Vox-Lacea (Top 5 Research Reviews of 2016)

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

Working Papers

Salience and Accountability: School Infrastructure and Last-Minute Electoral Punishment (with Ruben Durante)

Featured in La Nacion

WP: CEPR, EBRD

Abstract: Could voting behaviour be influenced by physical settings at the polling station? This paper studies electoral punishment for the low-quality public infrastructure of schools in which the voting booths are located. I exploit a natural experiment in Buenos Aires (the random assignment of voters to polling stations) to show that people assigned to polling booths located in public schools with poor infrastructure punish the incumbent by decreasing their vote share. Although, on average, the estimated electoral punishment is rather small (0.17 percentage points), I show that it is fully concentrated in lower-income areas (0.45 percentage points) – where voters presumably care more about the quality of public services because private substitutes are not affordable – and especially in areas where there is a higher proportion of children in school age. Results emphasise the relevance of salience in the decision-making process, as models of attention scarcity suggest.

More than Words: Leaders’ Speech and Risky Behavior During a Pandemic (with Tiago Cavalcanti and Daniel Da Mata).

Featured in O Globo, A os Fatos, Exame, Folha, Estadão, La Nacion, Foco Economico, VoxEU, The Economist

WP: CEPR, Cambridge-INET

Abstract: How do political leader’s words and actions affect people’s behavior? We address this question in the context of Brazil by combining electoral data and geo-localized mobile phone data for more than 60 million devices throughout the entire country. We find that after Brazil’s president publicly and emphatically dismisses the risks associated with the COVID-19 Pandemic and advises against isolation, social distancing measures of citizens in pro-government localities reduce relative to those places in which his support is weaker, while pre-event effects are insignificant. The impact is large and robust to different empirical model specifications. We also find suggestive evidence that this impact is driven by localities with relatively higher levels of media penetration.

Altruism or money? Breaking teacher sorting using behavioral interventions in Peru (with E. Bertoni, G. Elacqua, L Marotta and C. Mendez Vargas)

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 pro- gram 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.

Exposure to Transit Migration, Public Attitudes and Entrepreneurship (with Cevat Giray Aksoy and Sergei Guriev).

WP: IZA , CEPR, EBRD

Abstract: Does exposure to temporary mass migration affect the economic behavior of natives? In order to answer this question, we use a unique locality-level panel from the 2010 and 2016 rounds of the Life in Transition Survey and data on the main land routes taken by migrants in 18 European countries during the refugee crisis in 2015. To capture the exogenous variation in natives’ exposure to transit migration, we construct an instrument that is based on the distance of each locality to the optimal routes that minimize travelling time between the main origin and destination cities. We first show that the entrepreneurial activity of natives falls considerably in localities that are more exposed to mass transit migration, compared to those located further away. We then explore suggestive mechanisms and find results consistent with the view that the effect is driven by a change in risk attitudes, a decline in institutional trust and in the perceived political stability and an increase in the sense of lack of law and order. We also document an increase in the anti-migrant sentiment while attitudes towards other minorities remained unchanged. We rule out the possibility of out-migration of natives or of trade-related shocks (potentially confounded with the mass-transit migration) affecting our results.

Crime Concentration and Hot-Spots Dynamics in Latin America (with Laura Jaitman)

Abstract: Using micro-geographic units of analysis, the paper finds, first, that crime in Latin America is highly concentrated in a small proportion of blocks: 50 percent of crimes are concentrated in 3 to 7.5 percent of street segments, and 25 percent of crimes are concentrated in 0.5 to 2.9 percent of street segments. This validates Weisburd’s “law of crime concentration at place”. These figures are fairly constant over time but sensitive to major police reforms. The second finding is that hot spots of crime are not always persistent. Crime is constantly prevalent in certain areas, but in other areas hot spots either appear or disappear, suggesting a possible rational adaptation from criminals to police actions that cause crime displacement in the medium run to other areas.

In the field

Order effect influences job choices: Evidence from a large-scale intervention with teachers in Ecuador (with G. Elacqua, L Marotta, V. Montalva and S. Olsen; AEA RCT AEARCTR-0005036)

Reducing the prescription of unadvised drugs using social norm feedback by e-mail: a randomized controlled trial at national scale (with F. Torrente, J. Bustin, F. Triskier, A. Tomio, R. Mastai and F. Lopez Boo)

Work in Progress

Democratic Institutions, Social Preferences and Civic Culture (with Martin Fiszbein)

Civic Duty, Personal Interest and Tax Compliance: Evidence from a Large-Scale Field Experiment in Argentina (with Ruben Durante and Ricardo Perez-Truglia)

Immigration, Crime and Crime Perceptions (with Patricio Dominguez and Raimundo Undurraga)