Research

“The more we learn, the more we discover our ignorance.” (Percy Bysshe Shelley)

Research Statement


Working Papers

It Still an Econ Course? The Effect of a Standardized Personal Finance Test on the Learning of Economics (with Stephen Day and Bruno Sultanum) R&R at The American Economist

We study the implications of mixing economics and personal finance standards in a high school course. Using administrative, survey, and testing data on college students, we find that learning personal finance can help the learning of economics for some students and hurt it for others. We estimate that students who received more instruction in economics score almost 5 percentage points higher on our economics test. Furthermore, we estimate the effect of being assigned a certification test in personal finance as a part of this course. Taking the personal finance certification test increases economics test scores by 2.5 percentage points for the average student, but this effect is not uniform across students. The certification test significantly increases the economics scores of students with low SAT scores, while decreasing the economics scores of those with high SAT scores. Our results emphasize the potentially idiosyncratic effects of mixing economics with personal finance.

Parental Educational Choice and School Vouchers

This paper studies an overlapping generations model of parental educational choice with public and private education alternatives. I use survey data from Brazil to estimate the technology parameters via a simulation-based method, and then use those estimations to perform counterfactuals to analyze the impact of private education vouchers. The results indicate that vouchers generally increase income and reduce inequality, but the welfare gains depend on size and design of the program.

    Race and School Choice in Brazil

This paper investigates the role of race in early educational choice in Brazil. Using two national surveys, I provide evidence that non-white families are 4-5 percentage points more likely to place their children in a public school instead of a private one, even when controlling for income, education, and location. I also estimate lower returns to education for non-white individuals, which is consistent with the literature and can explain their school choice. At the same time I do not find evidence of scarcity of private schools, peer preference, nor residential segregation affecting the school choice. This research shows that race and returns to education matter for school choice in Brazil, and better understanding them can help shape future policies.

Exports and CO2 Emissions in the Absence of Regulations

This paper studies the environmental performance of exporters and non-exporters in the absence of pollution controls. I develop a model of trade and emissions, where consumers dislike pollution and heterogeneous firms decide price and emission intensity. The model shows that depending on the characteristics and size of the foreign market, exporting firms will pollute more than non-exporting ones. So I calculate the amount of CO2 emissions using fuel consumption from detailed Chilean plant-level data during the 1990’s. The results using matched sampling techniques show that there was no significant evidence that exporting plants were polluting more than the others. 


Publication in Non-Refereed Journal

Reservas Internacionais: Seguro ou Desperdício? (International Reserves: Insurance or Waste?) with Fernando de Holanda Barbosa and Rafaela Magalhães Nogueira.  Conjuntura Econômica, 2009. [ in Portuguese]

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