Direct and Spillover Impacts of Enforcing Labor Standards: Evidence from Argentina.

Forthcoming at the Journal of Human Resources (Publication | Ungated version | Online Appendix)

This paper studies how increases in labor standards and enforcement affect workers and their families. Using a policy in Argentina that targeted domestic workers and their employers, I find a 31% increase in formality rates of domestic workers and an increase in monthly earnings of almost 4%, despite a reduction in hours of work. I also study whether the reform produced changes among other members of domestic workers’ families. I find a substantial reduction in labor supply among children of domestic workers (especially women).

Collective Action: Experimental Evidence.

With María Victoria Anauati, Sebastián Galiani and Gustavo Torrens, 2016. Games and Economic Behavior, vol. 99, pp. 36-55 (Publication | Ungated version)

We conducted a laboratory experiment to test the comparative statics predictions of a new approach to collective action games based on the method of stability sets. We find robust support for the main theoretical predictions. As we increase the payoff of a successful collective action (accruing to all players and only to those who contribute), the share of cooperators increases. The experiment also points to new avenues for refining the theory. We find that, as the payoff of a successful collective action increases, subjects tend to upgrade their prior beliefs as to the expected share of cooperators. Although this does not have a qualitative effect on comparative static predictions, using the reported distribution of beliefs rather than an ad hoc uniform distribution reduces the gap between theoretical predictions and observed outcomes. This finding also allows us to decompose the mechanism that leads to more cooperation into a “belief effect” and a “range of cooperation effect”.

Climate change in Latin America and the Caribbean: policy options and research priorities.

With Sebastián Galiani, 2015. Latin American Economic Review, vol. 24(1) p. 14. (Publication)

Although climate change is filled with uncertainties, a broad set of policies proposed to address this issue can be grouped in two categories: mitigation and adaptation. Developed countries that are better prepared to cope with climate change have stressed the importance of mitigation, which ideally requires a global agreement that is still lacking. This paper uses a theoretical framework to argue that in the absence of a binding international agreement on mitigation, Latin America should focus mainly on adaptation to cope with the consequences of climate change. This is not a recommendation that such economies indulge in free-riding. Instead, it is based on cost–benefit considerations, all else being equal. Only in the presence of a global binding agreement can the region hope to exploit its comparative advantage in the conservation and management of forests, which are a large carbon sink. The decision of which policies to implement should depend on the results of a thorough cost–benefit analysis of competing projects, yet very little is known or has been carried out in this area to date. Research should be directed toward cost–benefit analysis of alternative climate change policies. Policymakers should compare other investments that are also pressing in the region, such as interventions to reduce water and air pollution, and determine which will render the greatest benefits.

Working Papers

What do Jobseekers Want? Comparing Methods to Estimate Reservation Wages and the Value of Job Attributes.

With AbdelRahman Nagy and Adam Osman. Revisions requested at the Journal of Development Economics (Draft)

Understanding jobseeker preferences---including their reservation wages and how much they value different non-wage amenities---is difficult because they are unobservable. We test four different methods for estimating these preference parameters using an experiment in a job-matching center. We find large and important differences between methods. We also estimate jobseekers' valuations of several job attributes, and explore how those valuations differ by characteristics like gender, education and length of unemployment. Among other findings, we show that in our sample of jobseekers in Egypt, women are more sensitive to long commutes, and value flexible schedules and on-site daycare more than men.

Do Ventures Led by Women Set Different Target Margins? Evidence from Emerging Markets

With Natalia Cantet and Estefany Peña Rojas. Submitted (Draft)

In recent decades, the number of female entrepreneurs has grown substantially, particularly in low- and middle-income countries. Despite the high rate of involvement of women in entrepreneurial activity, the characteristics and performance of female-led ventures differ significantly from those of ventures led by men. A potential reason for this is the lack of clearly defined venture goals, including the profit margin that ventures target. We study the relationship between gender and target margins using a large dataset of ventures located in Latin America and the Caribbean and Sub-Saharan Africa. We find that ventures led only by women are almost five percentage points less likely than male-led ventures to establish target margins, even after observable characteristics of the venture and the founders are controlled for. In addition, in most cases, ventures with only female founders set lower target margins than those with only male founders. These results suggest that policymakers, as well as accelerators and incubators, can play a major role in supporting female entrepreneurs as they grow their businesses by encouraging women to set clear and realistic target margins to be more successful at raising funds for their ventures.

School discrimination against children of same-sex households: experimental evidence from Colombia

with Natalia Cantet and Mónica Hernández-Florez (Draft)

We measure the extent of discrimination against same-sex couples by schools in Colombia using a correspondence study. We send requests to visit private and public schools from several couples of different sexual orientation as conveyed by the names of the parents. We track the response rate from schools, the time to reply and the "quality" of the reply. We find that schools are 11.7 percentage points (21.9%) less likely to respond to a request sent by a homosexual couple with respect to one sent by a heterosexual one. When no information about sexual orientation is provided, the response rate decreases by 20pp. (37%) versus an explicitly heterosexual couple. Conditional on replying, we find no difference in the time schools take to respond or the quality of the reply across couples, a result plausibly driven by selection into responding. Our findings suggest that, despite a strong legal framework that protects LGBTQ+ rights, discrimination against same-sex couples is pervasive and can have intergenerational consequences.

Quantifying the heterogeneity of the Colombian Informal Labor Market.

With Daniel Cañizares Osorio (Draft)

Understanding labor informality is a central issue in policymakers’ agendas across the developing world. For instance, recognizing its remarkable heterogeneity is a must in that duty. This paper studies the heterogeneity of Colombian informal labor market at the city level. Our results suggest the existence of a large heterogeneity both inside and between the main urban areas of Colombia. While in some cities informal jobs are predominantly the last resort for individuals to escape from unemployment, in others informality seems to be a choice. In addition, we observe in almost all urban areas that informal workers tend to be self-selected into informality at the top of the income distribution.

How do jobseekers respond to weather shocks? Evidence from South Africa


I study how weather shocks affect job search behavior. I combine daily temperature data with a survey from South Africa that includes detailed information on the methods unemployed individuals used to look for a job and their expectations about finding a job. I estimate that a 1-degree increase in the mean temperature over the month leading to the survey date increases the number of channels jobseekers use to look for a job by 1.8%. Higher temperatures increase the use of methods not employed frequently to look for work and the probability that a jobseeker will take steps towards starting their own business. I do not observe a significant change in the amount of money used to look for work, suggesting that higher temperatures induce jobseekers to diversify the channels through which they look for work and to consider switching to self-employment.

Immigration and its Effects Crime, Violence and Social Unrest.

With Marieke Kleemans (New draft coming soon)

We estimate the causal effect of internal migration on crime in Indonesia by combining detailed migration data with reports of crime and violence from over 2 million local newspapers, and from individual victimization reports from nationally representative surveys. To address endogeneity in the choice to migrate, we instrument the share of migrants in a destination with rainfall shocks at the migrant origin locations. We find that a 1 percent increase in the proportion of migrants in the population leads to a 3.9 percent increase in the number of economically motivated crimes reported by local media. This is consistent with the existing literature on the effect of international migration to developed countries, but larger in magnitude. However, when using data on individual victimization from household surveys, we instead find that an increase in the share of migrants leads to a reduction in the probability that a person is a crime victim at the destination. The reduction in crime victimhood is particularly large for migrants and for women. We explore various reasons for these competing results, including reporting bias in newspapers as a source of increased crime coverage in areas with an influx of migrants, even though the number of crime victims decreases.

Work in Progress

Women empowerment and comprehensive development in rural Egypt

with Marieke Kleemans

Scoring points: how football performance shapes attitudes towards migrants

with Marieke Kleemans

Shocks to child labor demand in rural Mexico and the role of Progresa.

With Mateo Arbeláez Parra