Research

Publications

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

Blog post in 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) in Health economics.

Working Papers

The Power of Example: How Corruption spurs Corruption

Featured in the EBRD Pocket Economics Podcast, EBRD Working Paper here, Blog post in Foco Economico (Spanish), Expansion-CNN (Spanish), Letras Libres (Spanish)

Abstract: Does political corruption erode civic values and foster dishonest behaviour? I test this hypothesis in the context of Mexico, by combining data on local government corruption and cheating in school tests. I find that, following revelations of corruption by local officials, cheating in cognitive tests by secondary school students increases significantly. The effect is large and robust, it persists for over one year after malfeasance is revealed, and is more pronounced for older students, arguably more exposed to information and to political discussions within and outside the family. Furthermore, it is stronger in places where the incumbent party was thought to be honest, and corruption revelations have come as a surprise. These findings are validated by evidence from individual survey data which documents that individuals interviewed right after corruption is revealed report to be less honest, less trustworthy and more prone to think that cheating is necessary to succeed than similar individuals interviewed just before.

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

Featured in the La Nacion (Spanish)

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.

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

Abstract: We study the impact of the recent migration crisis on entrepreneurship in 18 European transit countries using a unique locality-level panel from the 2010 and 2016 rounds of the Life in Transition Survey. To capture the exogenous variation in exposure to transit migration, we construct an instrument that exploits the distance of each locality to the optimal routes that minimise travelling time between the main origin and destination countries. We find that the entrepreneurial activity of natives falls considerably in localities that are more exposed to mass migration, compared to those located further away. We explore the mechanisms explaining the decline in entrepreneurial activity; our findings are consistent with the view that this decline is driven by decreased willingness to take risks, lower institutional trust and higher perceived political instability. We also document an increase in the anti-migrant sentiment while attitudes towards other minorities remained unchanged.

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

Priming intrinsic motivations to reduce teacher sorting: Evidence from Peru (with E. Bertoni, G. Elacqua, L Marotta, C .Mendez Vargas and V. Montalva; AEA RCT AEARCTR-0004676)

Fighting teacher sorting with behavioral interventions in Ecuador (with G. Elacqua, L Marotta, V. Montalva and S. Olsen; AEA RCT AEARCTR-0005036)

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)