Research

Working Papers

  1. Labor Market Informality, Risk, and Public Insurance, Job Market Paper, November 2022.
    (Abstract) [Manuscript]

    A large proportion of workers in developing countries are informal and are not covered by social insurance programs, including pensions and unemployment insurance (UI), depriving them of a key mechanism for mitigating risks. To address this important social issue, governments offer noncontributory benefits, such as minimum pensions. The design of these programs has implications for employment choices and savings, which can be used for self-insurance. To understand how policy can affect these life cycle choices, I develop a life-cycle model of formal and informal employment as well as savings and self-employment (which requires self-funded irreversible investment). Formal employment gives access to a bundle of public insurance programs, while informal workers are covered by basic pension guarantees. I estimate the parameters of the model using longitudinal survey data linked with administrative data from Chile and exploiting policy reforms to the pension system. The estimates suggest that the role of savings as self-insurance, the presence of borrowing constraints, and job amenities are important drivers of employment decisions. I also show evidence of complementarities between pensions and UI: when individuals have access to UI to insure themselves in the short run, they are more likely to invest in pensions. In counterfactual simulations, I show how the pension design affects formality decisions.

  2. Labor Market Conditions and College Graduation, August 2022 (Revise and Resubmit at the Economics of Education Review).
    (Abstract) [Manuscript]

    College students graduating in a recession have been shown to face large and persistent negative effects on their earnings, health, and other outcomes. This paper investigates whether students delay graduation to avoid these effects. Using data on the universe of students in higher education in Brazil and leveraging variation in labor market conditions across time, space, and chosen majors, I find that students in public institutions delay graduation to avoid entering depressed labor markets. The delaying effect is larger for students with higher scores, in higher-earnings majors, and from more advantaged backgrounds. This has important implications for the distributional impact of recessions.

  3. Are Public Schools in Developing Countries Ready to Integrate EdTech into Regular Instruction? (with Bruno Ferman and Lycia Lima), March 2022 (Revise and Resubmit at the Economics of Education Review).
    (Abstract) [Manuscript]

    We study the impacts of a program that introduced a computer-assisted learning platform into regular math classes using a randomized control trial in Brazilian primary public schools. Once a week, teachers would take their students to the school's computer lab and teach using a dynamically adaptive platform, instead of their standard math classes. We find no average treatment effect on students’ math proficiency. However, we find positive effects of the program on measures of attitudes towards math. Moreover, we find suggestive evidence that the program may have positive effects on proficiency when infrastructure is better, so that it can be implemented using one computer per student. These results highlight the implementation challenges associated with education technology interventions in developing countries.

  4. School closures and educational path: how the Covid-19 pandemic affected transitions to college (with Fernanda Estevan), September 2022 (submitted).
    (Abstract) [Manuscript]

    We investigate the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the transition between high school and college in Brazil. Using microdata from the universe of students that applied to a selective university, we document how the Covid-19 shock increased enrollment for students in the top 10% high-quality public and private high schools. This increase comes at the expense of graduates from relatively lower-quality schools. Furthermore, this effect is entirely driven by applicants who were at high school during the Covid pandemic. The effect is large and completely offsets the gains in student background diversity achieved by a bold quota policy implemented years before Covid. These results suggest that not only students from underprivileged backgrounds endured larger negative effects on learning during the pandemic, but they also experienced a stall in their educational paths.

  5. Women, Fertility, and Informality (with Marianne Bernatzky and Boryana Illieva), March 2021.
    (Abstract) [Manuscript]

    A large literature documents differences in women's and men's labor market outcomes, particularly after childbirth. In this paper, we investigate how these choices differ in a context with widespread informality. We analyze labor market and insurance choices by exploring an event study analysis around the birth of the first child, using data from a longitudinal survey in Chile. We document that women are more likely to work as self-employed after the first child's birth. This effect is larger for highly educated women, who are also more likely to report working remotely with no differences in work hours. In contrast, women with less education reduce their supplied hours. These switches are associated with less cognitive-intensive occupations, which may explain the observed fall in wages. Finally, we explore the effects of the 2008 Chilean pension system reform on formal work decisions. We observe that women who had children after 2008 are less likely to leave formal employment compared to women who had children before the reform was implemented.

Published Articles

  1. Labor Market Trends and Unemployment Insurance Generosity During the Pandemic (with Dana Scott), Economics Letters, 199C, 109722 (2021).
    (Abstract) [Published Version] [Open Access Manuscript]

    We test whether changes in unemployment insurance (UI) benefit generosity under the CARES Act in the US are associated with differential employment outcomes under the distinct conditions of the pandemic. While we observe a negative association between UI generosity and employment, we show that the relative employment gap arises before the Act was instituted, decreases in magnitude when the augmented benefits were in place, and does not change when the benefits expansion expires.

    Media coverage: CNBC, Time, Yahoo Canada, New Republic, and 4 others

Work in Progress

  1. There must be an error here! Experimental evidence on coding errors' biases (with Bruno Ferman).
    (Abstract)

    Economics research relies heavily on computational activities. Nonetheless, coding errors are widely present, even in papers that have gone through peer review processes. In this paper, we investigate whether researchers have differential probabilities for debugging their codes, depending on the results they face. We test this hypothesis in a randomized experiment in which common coding errors would lead to either expected or unexpected results. If researchers are less likely to look for coding errors when encountering non-favorable results, this implies a bias in the scientific inquiry.

    The RCT is currently being implemented. The pre-analysis plan was uploaded to AEA-RCT-Registry 0008312.

Policy Reports

  1. Employment effects of unemployment insurance generosity during the pandemic (with Joseph Altonji, Zara Contractor, Ryan Hyangood, Ilse Lindenlaub, Costas Meghir, Cormac O'Dea, Dana Scott, Liana Wang, and Ebonya Washington), July 2020, Tobin Center for Economic Policy—Yale University.

    Media coverage: Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, The New York Times, NPR, and 131 others

  2. The effects of the Coronavirus on hours of work of small business (with Joseph Altonji, Zara Contractor, Ryan Hyangood, Ilse Lindenlaub, Costas Meghir, Cormac O'Dea, Dana Scott, Liana Wang, and Ebonya Washington), June 2020, Tobin Center for Economic Policy—Yale University.
  3. Uma nova rede de proteção social ao trabalhador (with André Portela de Souza, Ricardo Paes de Barros, Diana Coutinho, and Lycia Lima), in "O Brasil sob reforma" (book chapter), 1st edition 2020.