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Research

    Working Papers

  • “Elite Higher Education, the Marriage Market and the Intergenerational Transmission of Human Capital” (with Matthias Messner and Alex Solis).

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    Abstract:

    We use administrative records on university applicants, their spouses and their children to estimate the marriage market and intergenerational effects of being admitted to a more elite university program, i.e. a program that is both objectively more selective and subjectively more preferred by the applicant. We exploit unique features of the Chilean university admission system which centrally allocates applicants based on university entrance scores to identify causal effects using a regression discontinuity design. Moreover, the Chilean context provides us with the necessary data on (completed) marriage and fertility decisions and with measures of spouse and child quality. We investigate the effect of admission to a more elite program on three sets of outcomes. First, we find that it does not affect the likelihood of marriage or of having a child. Second, being admitted to a higher ranked program has substantial effects on spouse quality, but only for female applicants. Their husbands perform 0.2 standard deviations better on the admission test and are 10 p.p. more likely to have been admitted to a top university. Also, females are more likely to have husbands whose mother is college educated and working (by 12 p.p.), and whose fathers are in high ranked occupations (by 21 p.p.). Third, children of both male and female applicants admitted to a more elite program perform 0.1 standard deviations better on a national standardized test. Making use of data on child investment, our results suggest important resource effects for men, while for women results are consistent with genetic endowment effects.

  • “Learning about the Enforcement of Conditional Welfare Programs: Evidence from Brazil” (with Fernanda Brollo and Eliana La Ferrara), IZA Working Paper 10654.

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    Abstract:

    We study spillovers in the enforcement of the conditional cash transfer program ``Bolsa Familia''.  Using administrative data, we find that individuals’ compliance responds to penalties incurred by their classmates and siblings' classmates (in other grades or schools). As the severity of penalties increases with repeated noncompliance, the response is larger when peers are punished for a ``higher stage'' than the family’s own, consistent with learning.  Individuals also respond to penalties experienced by neighbors who are exogenously scheduled to cash-in transfers and experience penalties on the same day. Our results point to important social multiplier effects of enforcement via learning.

  • “The Political Economy of Program Enforcement: Evidence from Brazil” (with Fernanda Brollo and Eliana La Ferrara), CEPR Discussion Paper 11964.

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    Abstract:

    Do politicians manipulate the enforcement of conditional welfare programs to influence electoral outcomes? We study the Bolsa Familia Program (BFP) in Brazil, which provides a monthly stipend to poor families conditional on school attendance. Repeated failure to comply with this requirement results in increasing penalties. First, we exploit random variation in the timing when beneficiaries learn about penalties for noncompliance around the 2008 municipal elections. We find that the vote share of candidates aligned with the President is lower in zip codes where more beneficiaries received penalties shortly before (as opposed to shortly after) the elections. Second, we show that politicians strategically manipulate enforcement. Using a regression discontinuity design, we find weaker enforcement before elections in municipalities where mayors from the presidential coalition can run for reelection. Finally, we provide evidence that manipulation occurs through misreporting school attendance, particularly in municipalities with a higher fraction of students in schools with politically connected principals.

  • “Gender Peer Effects, Non-Cognitive Skills and Marriage Market Outcomes: Evidence from Single-Sex Schools in the UK” (with Lina Cardona).

    Abstract:

    In this paper we analyze the long-run effects of single-sex schooling on individuals’ marriage and family outcomes. First, we show that individuals positively select into single-sex schools, i.e. they have (ex-ante) characteristics (such as higher cognitive and non-cognitive skills, better health, more likely catholic, more highly educated parents and higher family income) which are positively correlated with marriage (negatively with divorce). Despite positive selection, we find that single-sex education negatively affects men's likelihood to ever having been married by their mid-forties and increases the likelihood of separation/divorce and we show that the estimated coefficients are likely to be lower bounds (in absolute value) of the true effects. For women on the other hand we do not find any effects. In terms of mechanisms, we show that single-sex schooling does not affect individuals' preferences/aspirations for marriage suggesting negative welfare implications since men who attended single-sex schools are less likely to reach those goals. Instead, likely channels are fewer (romantic) interactions with the opposite gender during teenage age (even outside of school) and effects of single-sex education on boys' non-cognitive skills (such as becoming more cautious and less aggressive) which negatively affect their marital chances. Lastly, we find that the likelihood of having a child is the same, while the likelihood of a (stable) marriage (conditional on having a child) is reduced with potentially important negative consequences for those children.

  • “Intergenerational Mobility and Ability Tracking: Evidence from the German Reunification” (with Yasemin Özdemir)
  • “Subjective Returns to Schooling and Risk Perceptions of Future Earnings – Elicitation and Validation of Subjective Distributions of Future Earnings”(with Orazio Attanasio).
  • “The Marriage Market Effects of Elite Higher Education: Evidence from Chile” (with Matthias Messner and Alex Solis), SSRN Working Paper.
  •  “Educational Choices, Subjective Expectations, and Credit Constraints” (with Orazio Attanasio), NBER Working Paper 15087, June 2009.