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Maternal Dengue and Birth Outcomes (joint with Lívia Menezes). Forthcoming in: American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, 2023.
We study the effect of maternal dengue infections on birth outcomes using linked administrative records from Brazil estimating maternal fixed-effect
specifications. In contrast to previous studies, we find robust evidence for the negative effect of dengue infections on birth weight (BW). The effect is particularly pronounced at lower parts of the BW distribution, with an increase of 15%, 67%, and 133% for low, very low, and extremely low BW, respectively. We also document large increases in children’s hospitalizations and medical expenditures for up to three years after birth.
The impact of improving access to support services for victims of domestic violence on demand for services and victim outcomes (joint with Jesse Matheson & Reka Plugor). Forthcoming in American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, 2023.
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 For example, relative to the control group, statements provided by the treatment group were 84% less likely to be withdrawn.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.
Violence and Human Capital Investments (joint with Livia Menezes). Journal of Labor Economics, 39(3):787–823, 2021
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). Journal of Human Resources, 57(2):435-464.
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). World Bank Economic Review, 35(4):1019–1037, 2021.
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.
The Impact of Household Shocks on Domestic Violence: Evidence from Tanzania (joint with Olukorede Abiona). Revise and resubmit.
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.
Maternal Displacements during Pregnancy and the Health of Newborns (joint with Stefano Cellini and Lívia Menezes). Submitted.
In this paper, we estimate the effect of maternal displacements during pregnancy on birth outcomes by leveraging population-level administrative data from Brazil on formal employment linked to birth records. We find that involuntary job separation of pregnant single mothers leads to a decrease in birth weight (BW) by around 28 grams and an increase in the incidence of low BW by 10.5%. We document more pronounced negative effects for single mothers with lower earnings and no effect for mothers in the highest income quartile, suggesting a mitigating role of self-insurance from savings. Exploiting variation from unemployment benefits eligibility, we also provide evidence on the mitigating role of formal unemployment insurance using a Regression Discontinuity design exploiting the cutoff from the unemployment insurance eligibility rule.
Victimisation and Birth Outcomes (joint with Lívia Menezes). Submitted.
We estimate the causal effect of individual criminal victimisation in robbery and theft on birth outcomes using a unique dataset from Brazil combining information on the universe of victims of crime with vital statistics data. We find that victimisation during pregnancy reduces birthweight by about 16 grams - 3 percent of a standard deviation in birthweight - and increases the likelihood of low and extremely low birthweight by about 8.5 and 30 percent, respectively, compared to the baseline. The results are robust to the inclusion of place of residence, maternal and time fixed effects and to the inclusion of a very large array of mother and pregnancy characteristics. We also show that victimisation leads to behavioural adjustments of mothers as we observe a reduction in the number of prenatal visits. Effects are stronger for individuals of lower socio-economic background, indicating that victimisation might contribute to the intergenerational transmission of poverty.
Work in Progress
The Consequences of Parental Loss on Human Capital Accumulation (joint with Lívia Menezes and Asako Ohinata)
The Short and Long-term Cost of Victimization in Crime (joint with Lívia Menezes)
Health Shocks and Educational Outcomes (joint with Juliana Carneiro and Lívia Menezes)
Juvenile Detention and Long-term Outcomes (joint with Lívia Menezes)
Early Determinants of Youth Crime (joint with Lívia Menezes and Catherine Ojo)
Policy Columns and Reports
How does crime against expectant mothers affect their children’s health? (joint with Lívia Menezes), Economics Observatory, 2023.
Dengue infections in-utero and the health of children (joint with Lívia Menezes), VoxDev, 2023.
Reducing barriers to support services in domestic violence cases leads to more effective use of police services (joint with Jesse Matheson and Reka Plugor), VoxEU, 2023.
How day-to-day violence affects children’s educational attainment (joint with Lívia Menezes), IZA Newsroom, 2019.
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.
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