This paper provides causal evidence that close neighbors significantly influence potential applicants’
decision to attend university. I create a unique dataset combining detailed geographic information and
individual educational records in Chile, and exploit the quasi-random variation generated by student loans eligibility rules.
I find that potential applicants are significantly more likely to attend and complete university when their closest neighbor—-defined
as the closest individual applying to university one year before—-becomes eligible for a student loan and enrolls in university.
This increase in enrollment is mediated by an increase in the probability of taking the admission exam and applying to university.
The closest neighbor typically lives 0.09 km away, and neighbors’ influence decays with distance. My results highlight the importance
of social influences for university enrollment decisions and suggest that financial aid and university access policies may have important
Family and social networks are widely believed to influence important life decisions but causal identification
of those effects is notoriously challenging. Using data from Chile, Croatia, Sweden, and the United States, we
study within-family spillovers in college and major choice across a variety of national contexts. Exploiting
college-specific admissions thresholds that directly affect older but not younger siblings’ college options, we
show that in all four countries a meaningful portion of younger siblings follow their older sibling to the same
college or college-major combination. Older siblings are followed regardless of whether their target and counterfactual
options have large, small or even negative differences in quality. Spillover effects disappear, however, if the older
sibling drops out of college, suggesting that older siblings’ college experiences matter. That siblings influence
important human capital investment decisions across such varied contexts suggests that our findings are not an artifact
of particular institutional detail but instead a more generalizable description of human behavior. Causal links between
the postsecondary paths of close peers may partly explain persistent college enrollment inequalities between social
groups and suggests that interventions to improve college access may have multiplier effects.
This paper investigates whether the effects of a reform that substantially increased daily instruction time in
Chilean primary schools vary depending on school institutions. Focusing on incumbent students and exploiting an
IV strategy, we find that longer daily schedules increase reading scores at the end of fourth grade and that the
benefits are greater for pupils who began primary education in no-fee charter schools rather than in public schools.
We provide evidence that these two types of publicly subsidized establishments, which cater to similar students but
differ in their degree of autonomy, expand the teaching input in different ways: in order to provide the additional
instruction time, no-fee charter schools rely more on hiring new teachers and less on increasing teachers’ working
hours than public schools do.
Rehabilitating convicted criminals is challenging; indeed, an important share of them return to prison only a few years after their release.
Thus, finding effective ways of encouraging crime desistance has become an important policy goal to reduce crime and incarceration rates.
This paper provides causal evidence that the local institutions of the neighborhood that receives individuals after prison matter.
Specifically, we show that the opening of an Evangelical church reduces twelve-months re-incarceration rates among property crime offenders by more than 10 percentage points.
This effect represents a drop of 16\% in the probability of returning to prison for this group of individuals.
We find smaller and less precise effects for more severe types of crime. We discuss two classes of mechanisms that could explain our results: religiosity and social support.
We provide evidence that the social support provided by evangelical churches is an important driver of our findings.
This suggests that non-religious local institutions could also play an important role in the rehabilitation of former inmates.