“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

This study investigates the effects of personal finance content being embedded in a high-school economics course in the presence of a certification test only in personal finance. Using administrative and survey data on college students, we find evidence that personal finance instruction crowds out economics instruction and reduces learning of economics, as measured by the Test of Economic Literacy. Controlling for gender, race, ability and teacher training, we find that students who received more instruction in economics score almost 5% higher on a pre-test of economics. Taking the certification test in personal finance increased the pre-test score only for students with lower SAT scores. And higher pre-test scores reduces the likelihood of dropping off from the college course.

Parental Educational Choice and School Vouchers [PDF]

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 conterfactuals 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 Private School Choice in Brazil: Theory and Evidence [PDF]

This paper investigates the role of race in early educational choice in Brazil. I provide evidence that non-white families are 4-5% more likely to place their children in a public school instead of private. This lower investment is justified by their lower returns to education. I also describe an overlapping generations model with parental investment in children’s human capital and heterogeneity in the returns to education which generates the observed school choice. This research shows that race matters for human capital investment, and understanding the returns to this investment can help shape future policies.

Parental Educational Investment and Social Mobility with Heterogeneous Returns [PDF]

This work analyzes the role of returns to education for parental investment in human capital and social mobility. I employ an overlapping generations framework to model the parental investment in children’s human capital in an educational setting with private and public schools. Human capital is produced according to a learning technology that takes into account ability, parent’s human capital stock, and returns to education. I provide conditions under which there will be a human capital threshold separating households between the two systems. Allowing for heterogeneity in the returns to education across racial groups brings the model closer to the data as segregation appears in equilibrium, which may lead to poverty traps and reduced mobility.

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. [PDF in Portuguese]