Violence and Human Capital Investments (joint with Livia Menezes). Forthcoming in Journal of Labor Economics, 2020.

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.

Financial Inclusion, Shocks and Welfare: Evidence from the Expansion of Mobile Money in Tanzania (joint with Olukorede Abiona). Forthcoming in Journal of Human Resources, 2020.

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 2012 and use this together with idiosyncratic shocks from variation in rainfall over time and across space in a difference-in-difference framework. We find that adopter households are able to smooth consumption during periods of shocks and maintain their investments in human capital. Results on time use of children and labor force participation complement the findings on the important role of mobile money for the intergenerational transmission of poverty.

Secondary Schools and Teenage Childbearing: Evidence from the school expansion in Brazilian municipalities

 (joint with Jesse Matheson). Forthcoming in World Bank Economic Review, 2020.

This article investigates the effect of increasing secondary education opportunities on teenage fertility in Brazil. We construct a novel dataset to exploit variation from a 57% increase in secondary schools across 4,884 Brazilian municipalities between 1997 and 2009. We find that an increase of one school per 100 females reduces a cohort’s teenage birthrate by between 0.250 and 0.563 births per 100, or a reduction of one birth for roughly every 50 to 100 students who enroll in secondary education.

Class Assignment and Peer Effects: Evidence from Brazilian Primary Schools, Scandinavian Journal of Economics,120(1): 296-325, 2018.

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.

Working Papers

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.

Public Services Access and Domestic Violence: Lessons from a Randomized Controlled Trial (joint with Jesse Matheson & Reka Plugor) Submitted.

This paper studies the effect of improving access to support services for victims of domestic violence. For this purpose, we conducted a randomized controlled trial of an intervention designed to assist victims in accessing non-police services. We built a unique dataset from a victim survey and administrative records. The intervention led to a 19% decrease in the provision of statements by victims to police, but no significant change in criminal justice outcomes against perpetrators. We argue that the treatment response in statements came from victims for whom a statement was relatively less effective for pursuing criminal sanctions. For example, relative to the control group, statements provided by the treatment group were 84% less likely to be withdrawn. We also find that over a two-year period, reported domestic violence outcomes do not differ significantly between the treatment and control group. We provide suggestive evidence for the interpretation of these results.

Maternal Dengue and Birth Outcomes (joint with Lívia Menezes) Submitted.

This paper provides novel causal evidence on the effect of in-utero infections with dengue on a number of birth outcomes. For this purpose, we leverage on access to population level administrative dengue records linked to birth records for mothers with multiple births over time, enabling us to estimate mother fixed effects models. We find a significant negative effect on birth weight (-37grams) and a very substantial increase in the propensity for low, very low and extremely low birthweight (28, 70 and 140 percent compared to the baseline). We provide a battery of robustness checks and alternative specifications including of the control group. We also find a substantial increase in very preterm deliveries (an 85 percent increase) indicating a considerable penalty for affected children from a maternal infection with dengue.


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 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)

Policy Reports

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.

© 2020 by Martin Foureaux Koppensteiner