Class Assignment and Peer Effects: Evidence from Brazilian Primary Schools, Scandinavian Journal of Economics,120(1): 296-325, 2017.
Abstract: Students in Brazil are typically assigned to classes based on the age ranking in their cohort. I exploit this rule to estimate how fifth‐grade students’ achievement in mathematics is affected when they are in classes with older peers. I find that being assigned to the older class leads to a drop in maths scores of about 0.4 of a standard deviation for students at the cut‐off. I provide evidence that heterogeneity in age is an important factor behind this effect. Information on teaching practices and student behaviour sheds light on how class heterogeneity harms learning.
The Effect of Violence on Birth Outcomes: Evidence from Homicides in Brazil (joint with Marco Manacorda), Journal of Development Economics, 119: 16-33, 2016.
Abstract: This paper uses microdata from Brazilian vital statistics on births and deaths between 2000 and 2010 to estimate the impact of in-utero exposure to local violence – measured by homicide rates – on birth outcomes. The estimates show that exposure to violence during the first trimester of pregnancy leads to a small but precisely estimated increase in the risk of low birthweight and prematurity. Effects are found both in small municipalities, where homicides are rare, and in large municipalities, where violence is endemic, and are particularly pronounced among children of poorly educated mothers, implying that violence compounds the disadvantage that these children already suffer as a result of their households' lower socioeconomic status.
Automatic Grade Promotion and Student Performance: Evidence from Brazil, Journal of Development Economics, 107: 277-290, 2014.
Abstract: This paper examines the effect of automatic grade promotion on academic achievement in 1993 public primary schools in Brazil. A difference-in-differences approach that exploits variation over time and across schools in the grade promotion regime allows the identification of the treatment effect of automatic promotion. I find a negative and significant effect of about 7% of a standard deviation on math test scores. I provide evidence in support of the interpretation of the estimates as a disincentive effect of automatic promotion. The findings contribute to the understanding of retention policies by focusing on the ex-ante effect of repetition and are important for more complete cost–benefit considerations of grade retention.
Financial Inclusion, Shocks and Welfare: Evidence from the Expansion of Mobile Money in Tanzania (joint with Olukorede Abiona). Revisions requested at Journal of Human Resources.
Abstract: In this paper, we estimate the effect of mobile money adoption on consumption smoothing, poverty and human capital investments in Tanzania. We exploit the rapid expansion of the mobile money agent network between 2010 and 2013 and instrument for the household adoption of mobile money by using changes in the distance and cost to the nearest mobile money agent. We test for consumption smoothing by focusing on idiosyncratic shocks to households from variation in rainfall across Tanzania. We find evidence for consumption smoothing during periods of negative shocks for the poorest households that have adopted mobile money. We also show that mobile money prevents these households from sliding into transient poverty. In addition, adopter households are able to maintain investments in human capital, namely school attendance and preventive health expenditure, during periods of household shocks. Additional results on time use of children and labour force participation complement the findings on the important role of mobile money for the intergenerational transmission of poverty.
Violence and Human Capital Investments (joint with Livia Menezes). Submitted.
Abstract: In this paper, we investigate the effect of exposure to homicides on the educational performance and human capital investments of students in Brazil. We combine extremely granular information on the location and timing of homicides with a number of very large administrative educational datasets, to estimate the effect of exposure to homicides around schools, students' residence, and on their way to school on these outcomes. We show that violence has a detrimental effect on school attendance, on standardised test scores in math and Portuguese language and increases dropout rates of students substantially. The effects are particularly pronounced for boys, indicating important heterogeneous effects of violence. We use exceptionally rich information from student- and parent-background questionnaires to investigate the effect of violence on the aspirations and attitudes towards education. In line with the effects on dropout and the longer-term human capital accumulation of students, we find that boys systematically report lower educational aspiration towards education. Making use of the very rich information from the homicides and education data, we explore a number of underlying transmission channels, including mechanisms related to school supply, bereavement and incentives for human capital investments.
The Impact of Household Shocks on Domestic Violence: Evidence from Tanzania (joint with Olukorede Abiona). Submitted.
Abstract: In this paper, we study the effect of household shocks on the incidence of domestic violence using household survey microdata from Tanzania. We use idiosyncratic variation in rainfall to proxy for shocks on household income of rural households. We find that droughts lead to a considerable increase of domestic violence in the households. A one standard deviation negative rainfall shock from the long-term mean increases the incidence by about 11.3 per cent compared to the baseline. We make use of the rich information from the household survey to investigate the underlying pathways.
Access to Education and Teenage Childbearing in Brazil (joint with Jesse Matheson). Submitted.
Abstract: Does improving education opportunities influence childbearing decisions for young women? We examine a novel dataset reflecting the vast expansion of secondary education in Brazil between 1997 and 2010. Using variation in the introduction of schools across 4,849 municipalities to instrument for school enrolment, we find that for every student enrolled there are 0.149 fewer teenage births (4.59% relative to the mean). This estimate implies that Brazil’s secondary school expansion accounts for 23% of the substantial decline in teenage childbearing observed over the same period. Exploiting heterogeneity in population characteristics across municipalities, we provide new evidence on the mechanisms underlying the education-fertility relationship. This includes a previously undocumented mechanism whereby schools coordinate interactions between young men and women.
Understanding Access Barriers to Public Services: Lessons from a Randomized Domestic Violence Intervention (joint with Jesse Matheson & Reka Plugor)
We study the effect of reducing barriers to accessing non-police services on the demand for police services in cases of police-reported domestic violence. Variation comes from a large randomized controlled trial designed to assist victims in accessing non-police services and we link information from local and national police administrative records and a survey of victims to form a unique dataset for the evaluation. The intervention led to a 18% decrease in the demand for police services, as measured by the provision of a statement by victims. Despite a strong correlation between statements and criminal sanctions against perpetrators, we do not find a corresponding effect of the intervention on perpetrator arrest, charges, or sentencing. This suggests that treated victims who do not provide a statement do so because their potential statement was relatively less effective for pursuing criminal sanctions. Consistent with this result, we find treatment group statements are significantly less likely to be withdrawn than are control group statements.
Work in Progress
Who has the Right to Rent? Testing for Discrimination in the English Rental Market (joint with Tania Oliveira and Nikitha Rohith)
The Intergenerational Cost of Dengue: The Effect of Exposure to Dengue on Birth and Long-term Outcomes in Brazil.
The Long-term Consequences of Caesarean Section: Evidence from Brazil (joint with Jesse Matheson and Lívia Menezes)
Job Loss and Birth Outcomes: Evidence from Plant Closures (joint with Lívia Menezes and Yaya Saidou)
Improving Police Responses to Domestic Abuse: Findings from Project 360, Safe, 59(2017), Women’s Aid (lead article).
The Effect of Day-to-Day Violence on Infant Health (joint with Marco Manacorda), VoxEU, 2016.
The Evaluation of Project 360 Intervention on Domestic Violence (joint with Jesse Matheson), HaPPEN Policy Paper, 2015.