Department of Economics
2211 Campus Drive
Evanston, IL 60208
Ph.D., Economics, Northwestern University, 2020 (expected)
M.A., Economics, Northwestern University, 2016
M.A., Economics, Barcelona Graduate School of Economics, 2014
B.A., Economics, Pompeu Fabra University, 2013
Fields of Specialization
Development Economics, Labor Economics, Economics of Education
Job Market Paper
“Secondary School Expansion through Televised Lessons: The Labor Market Returns of the Mexican Telesecundaria”
In areas where there is an insufficient supply of qualified teachers, delivering instruction through technology may be a solution to meet the demand for education. This paper analyzes the educational and labor market impacts of an expansion of junior secondary education in Mexico through telesecundarias – schools using televised lessons, currently serving 1.4 million students. To isolate the effects of telesecundarias, I exploit their staggered rollout from 1968 to present. I show that for every additional telesecundaria per 50 children, ten students enroll in junior secondary education and two pursue further education. Using the telesecundaria expansion as an instrument, I find that an additional year of education induced by telesecundaria enrollment increases average income by 17.6%. This increase in income comes partly from increased labor force participation and a shift away from agriculture and the informal sector. Since schooling decisions are sequential, the estimated returns combine the direct effect of attending telesecundarias and the effects of further schooling. I decompose these two effects by interacting the telesecundaria expansion with baseline access to upper secondary institutions. Roughly 84% of the estimated returns come directly from junior secondary education, while the remaining 16% are returns to higher educational levels.
“What is a Good School, and Can Parents Tell? Evidence on the Multidimensionality of School Output”, with Diether W. Beuermann, C. Kirabo Jackson and Francisco Pardo
Is a school’s impact on high-stakes test scores a good measure of its overall impact on students? Do parents value school impacts on tests, longer-run outcomes, or both? To answer the first question, we exploit quasi-random school assignments and data from Trinidad and Tobago. We construct exogenous instruments for each individual school and estimate the causal impacts of individual schools on several short- and longer-run outcomes. Schools’ impacts on high-stakes tests are weakly related to impacts on low-stakes tests, dropout, crime, teen motherhood, and formal labor market participation. To answer the second question, we link estimated school impacts to parents’ ranked lists of schools. We propose a modified multinomial logit model that allows one to infer preferences for school attributes even in some settings where choices are strategic. Parents of higher-achieving students value schools that improve high-stakes test scores conditional on average outcomes, proximity, and even peer quality. Parents also value schools that reduce crime and increase formal labor market participation. Most parents’ preferences for school impacts on labor-market and crime outcomes are, as strong, or stronger than those for test scores. These results provide a potential explanation for recent findings that parent preferences are not strongly related to test-score impacts. They also suggest that evaluations based solely on test scores may be very misleading about the welfare effects of school choice.
Work in Progress
“Capturing the Malleability of Social and Interpersonal Skills in Educational and Organizational Settings”, with Caterina Calsamiglia
Brief Abstract: It has been demonstrated that good social and interpersonal skills foster academic success and adaptation to the labor market, and help improve the individual’s wellbeing throughout life. The main challenge is to find objective measures of these non-cognitive skills that can be used extensively to test the malleability of such traits. The first purpose of this study is to develop a set of measures that can be implemented on large populations and that have predictive power on future schooling and life outcomes. The second objective of this study is to provide evidence on the best performing practices to develop good social and interpersonal skills in educational and organizational environments, both in developed and developing country settings.
“The Effects of School Discipline: Evidence from North Carolina”, with Samuel Norris
Brief Abstract: Overly harsh discipline practices (particularly zero-tolerance policies) may harm children by reducing instructional time, inducing dropout, and bringing children into contact with law enforcement. Conversely, non-punished students may benefit from fewer classroom distractions. We study the effect of discipline policies using principal moves between schools as an instrument for school discipline levels. We find that harsher principals reduce test scores for students near the margin of punishment, but have no effect on students unlikely to misbehave.
Economics of Education, Prof. Scott Ogawa, Spring 2018
Economic Development in Africa, Prof. Christopher Udry, Winter 2018
Economics of Developing Countries, Prof. Seema Jayachandran, Fall 2017