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.
Do elite colleges renew the elite or reproduce it? This paper combines five decades of intergenerationally
linked data on the educational trajectories of parents and children in Chile with a regression discontinuity
design to document the joint evolution of social and human capital across generations and provide causal evidence
on how elite colleges shape this evolution. We first describe the association between social capital--measured by
the type of high school parents attended---and children's outcomes. Even after controlling for parents' performance
on a national college admission exam, children whose parents attended elite private high schools are more likely to
obtain high scores on college entrance exams and to attend elite colleges. These children are also more likely to attend
elite private schools themselves. Turning to the causal analysis, we show that parents' admission to an elite college
program changes their children's educational paths. Children of parents from non-elite social backgrounds are 24% more likely
to attend an elite private school and 7.1% more likely to attend an elite college when their parents are admitted to an elite
college program. These effects are not driven by generic increases in educational expenditures, but by changes in the family and
neighborhood environment: parents admitted to elite college programs are more likely to marry high-status partners and to live
near other high-status families. In contrast, parents' admission does not raise children's test scores. Back of the envelope calculations
show that, among high human capital families, the intergenerational gains in social capital from elite colleges admission accrue disproportionately
to the incumbent social capital elite, but that low social capital families are 20.92% more common among the beneficiaries of elite colleges admission
than among the next generation's social elite as a whole. Elite colleges transmit social capital unequally, but less so than other paths through
which social capital travels.
Using a randomized controlled trial (RCT), this project aims to assess whether the
provision of targeted information and mentoring to students attending vocational
high schools affect the quantity and type of post-secondary studies they pursue and
their higher education aspirations. The RCT randomly assigned 80 high schools to
the control group, 80 high schools to an information-only treatment group, and 80
high schools to a combination of information and mentoring treatment group. The
mentoring treatment is randomly assigned to only a few students per class, a feature
that will allow us to study the spillovers of the mentoring program on the social
network of treated individuals. With this last part of the experiment, we aim to
understand to which extent social spillovers could be used to design more efficient
and effective interventions to help students to make informed decisions about their
post-secondary education trajectories.
Rehabilitating convicted criminals is challenging; indeed, an important share of them returnto prison only a few years after their release.
Thus, finding effective ways of encouraging crimedesistance, particularly among young individuals, has become an important policy goal to reducecrime and incarceration rates.
This paper provides causal evidence that the local institutionsof the neighborhood that receives young individuals after prison matter.
Specifically, we showthat the opening of an Evangelical church reduces twelve-months re-incarceration rates amongproperty 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 three classes of mechanisms thatcould explain our results: social support, promotion of evangelical values, and social monitoring.
We provide evidence that the social support provided by evangelical churches is an importantdriver of our findings.
This suggests that non-religious local institutions could also play an important role in the rehabilitation of former inmates.
This paper estimates teacher value added (TVA) models to study differences inteacher effectiveness for male and female students.
Taking advantage of rich admin-istrative data from Chile, we build a unique dataset that allows us to link studentswith their eighth-grade math and reading teachers,
and follow them in high schooland in their transition to higher education.
We estimate TVA in test scores and inan educational attainment index, and show that differences on teacher effectivenessexplain an important part of the gender gaps we observe on standardized tests andon postsecondary education trajectories.
Next, using survey data covering the uni-verse of eight grade students and their math teachers, we explore whether teachers’characteristics and practices explain the differences that we document on teacher effectiveness.
Although we do not find important differences in the relationship between teachers’ practices and their effectiveness for male and female students, we do find significant associations that suggest that certain teaching practices benefit
both male and female students.
This paper combines rich administrative data on college applications from seven very different countries: Brazil, Chile, China, Croatia, Finland, Greece, and Sweden. In all these countries, an important share of colleges
select their students through centralized admission systems that only consider students' preferences and academic performance. We use these data to study differences in preferences for colleges and majors by gender and socioeconomic
status. We find important differences both across the gender and socioeconomic dimensions. In all countries, female students are more likely to apply to health and education majors. Male students, on the other hand, are more likely
to apply to STEM majors. These differences persist along the whole distribution of academic ability. Differences in preferences for fields of study are less prominent when comparing individuals from different socioeconomic backgrounds.
However, we do find that conditional on academic ability, students from low-SES households apply to less selective programs. These differences could be important to understand some of the inequeality we observe in labor market trajectories.
Finally, in none of the countries we study applicants to education programs come from the top of the ability distribution. However, whereas in most of them applicants trend to come from middle- and low-SES backgrounds, in Finland there is
an important share of them who come from a high-SES background.
We use data covering more than five decades of college applications from Chile to
study the evolution of the gender gap on STEM majors. We then take advantage of
family links that allow us to link mothers and their children, and exploiting sharp
admission cutoffs, we study how having a mother marginally admitted into a STEM
major affects the college applications of their sons and daughters. Preliminary results
indicate that daughters whose mothers were marginally admitted to STEM majors
are more likely to enroll in STEM majors themselves. We find no significant changes
on the applications of sons. These preliminary results suggest that policies designed
to close the gender gap in STEM majors could also have an indirect effect on the
This paper exploits a large shock that affected the Finnish telecommunications industry—
i.e., the launch of the iPhone and the decline of Nokia that followed—to study how
different types of displaced workers responded to the shock. Using Finnish administrative registers we are able to follow individuals displaced from Nokia for up to
eight years after the shock. Preliminary analyses show that although all displaced
workers suffered important losses in the labor market, high skilled individuals were
more likely to recover. In addition, many high skilled workers eligible to receive seed
capital as part of their exit agreement, started new businesses. In comparison to
other firms started by similar individuals around the same time, the firms started by
ex-Nokia employees have higher survival rates and higher annual turnover.