“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) [PDF]

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 evidence that personal finance instruction crowds out economics instruction. We find that students who received more instruction in economics score almost 5% higher on an economics test. Furthermore, we estimate the effect of being assigned a certification test in personal finance as a part of this course. The effect of the certification test is not uniform across students. The test reduces the economics scores of students with an SAT score one standard deviation above the mean by 5 percentage points, but increases the scores of students with SAT scores one standard deviation below the mean by 10 percentage points. 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 Private School Choice in Brazil: Theory and Evidence

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

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]