Essay contest for students on labor and social issues in Latin America

Five editions of the competition rewarded empirical research proposals on labor and social studies applied to countries of Latin America and the Caribbean. The competition was aimed at undergraduate and graduate students in Economics from universities around the world.

The proposals needed to address some of the following topics: a) Labor Markets; B) Labor policies; C) Poverty; D) Distribution of income; E) Social policies. The last two editions required to incorporate a gender perspective into the project.

The proposals were selected based on its originality, rigor and relevance for public policies. The projects were executed with the assistance and supervision of a mentor appointed by the academic committee.

The selection committee, integrated by Maria Laura Alzúa, Guillermo Cruces and Leonardo Gasparini, evaluated 46 papers sent by students and young graduates from Argentina, Colombia, Peru and Uruguay. 

FIRST PLACE: Mauricio Zunino (Universidad de la República, Uruguay) “Impactos de la Reinstauración de los Consejos de Salarios sobre la Distribución Salarial en Uruguay: Conclusiones, Hipótesis e Interrogantes”
SECOND PLACE: Florencia Paz and Ignacio Sarmiento (Universidad Nacional de Tucumán, Argentina) “¿Quiénes se quedaron atrás en el boom económico argentino?”
THIRD PLACE (shared):
-Juan Martín Fernández (Universidad Nacional del Nordeste, Argentina), “Recursos familiares y resultado educativo en el Chaco. La Familia, la Escuela y la distribución de los saberes escolares básicos”
-Caramp, N., F. Espinosa, M. Melero and M. Szenig (Universidad Torcuato Di Tella, Argentina) “Skill-Biased Technological Change, Unemployment and Inequality: Theory and Evidence”

This edition of the competition was part of the celebration of the tenth anniversary of  CEDLAS, and had the support of the International Development Research Centre (IDRC-Canada) in the context of the project “Labour markets for inclusive growth in Latin America”. Three proposals were selected from a pool of 57 by students from 15 countries.

  • Fernando Fernández and Víctor Saldarriaga (Universidad de Piura, Peru), “Conditional Cash Transfers, Payment Dates and Labor Supply: Evidence from Peru”. pdf-vector-otro
  • Juan Ronconi (Universidad de San Andrés, Argentina) “Union Negotiation and Wage Inequality in Argentina: An Empirical Analysis of Recent Trends”. pdf-vector-otro
  • Ramiro Rodriguez Revilla (Universidad de los Andes, Colombia) “Equidad Laboral para Mujeres Mayores de 40 Años en Colombia”. pdf-vector-otro

This edition of the competition counted with the support of the International Development Research Centre (IDRC-Canada) as part of the project “Labour markets for inclusive growth in Latin America”. Three proposals were selected between the 53 research proposals sent by students from 11 countries.

  • María Isabel García (Facultad Latinoamericana de Ciencias Sociales – Ecuador) “Evaluación de impacto del Programa Bono de Vivienda en el mercado laboral ecuatoriano”. pdf-vector-otro
  • Rosamaría Dasso Arana (Universidad de Piura, Peru) and Fernando Fernandez Bazan (Universidad Pompeu Fabra, Spain), “The Effects of Electrification on Employment in Rural Peru”. pdf-vector-otro
  • Mariana de la Paz Pereira López (El Colegio de México, Mexico) “Indirect Job Creation and the Informal Sector in Mexico”. pdf-vector-otro

The fourth edition of the competition counted with the support of the International Development Research Centre (IDRC-Canada) as part of the project “Enhancing Women’s Economic Empowerment through Better Policies in Latin America”, and was aimed to proposals with a gender perspective. Three proposals were selected between the 45 research proposals sent by students from 11 countries.

  • Category 1: undergrad students: María Laura Lanzalot (Universidad Nacional de Buenos Aires, Argentina) “El cuidado de los niños y niñas y la inserción laboral de las madres en Argentina: un enfoque a través del método de control sintético” pdf-vector-otro
  • Category 2: recent bachelors and/or MSc students: Augusto Mendoza (Universidad de Piura, Peru) “Los efectos del empleo sobre la violencia doméstica: evidencia para las mujeres peruanas”. pdf-vector-otro
  • Category 3: recent Master’s and / or PhD students: Cecilia Velázquez (Universidad Nacional de La Plata, Argentina) “El impacto de la educación sobre la fecundidad adolescente”. pdf-vector-otro

This edition of the competition counted with the support of the International Development Research Centre (IDRC-Canada) as part of the project “Enhancing Women’s Economic Empowerment through Better Policies in Latin America”, and was aimed to proposals with a gender perspective. Three proposals were selected between the 44 research proposals sent by students from 10 countries.

  • Category 1: undergrad students: Ingrith Dulcey Jerez (Universidad Industrial de Santander, Colombia). “Determinantes socioeconómicos de la violencia contra la mujer dentro de la pareja. Un análisis del caso colombiano”.  pdf-vector-otro
  • Category 2: recent bachelors and/or MSc students: Alexandra Montenegro Llanco and Sarita Oré Quispe (Universidad Nacional Mayor de San Marcos, Peru). “Educación pública inicial y participación laboral femenina: el caso de Perú”. pdf-vector-otro
  • Category 3: recent Master’s and / or PhD students: María Micaela Sviatschi (Columbia University-USA). “Long-term effects of temporary labor demand: free trade zones, female education and marriage market outcomes in the Dominican Republic”. pdf-vector-otro

Call for graduate thesis proposals that use Impact Evaluation techniques

In the context of the project “Fostering capacities in Impact Evaluation in Latin America,” the Center for Distributive, Labor and Social Studies, CEDLAS with the support of the International Development Research Centre (IDRC-Canada), organized three calls for thesis proposals that use Impact Evaluation techniques for PhD and Master’s students based in Latin America.

The proposals had to include empirical analysis based on impact assessment methodologies and provide novel evidence on economic issues for one or more countries in Latin America and the Caribbean. The choice of winners was based on the originality, rigor and relevance of the proposals for the design of public policies in the region.

Social policy and female labor force participation: the case of AUH in Argentina

Garganta, Santiago (Argentinean, PhD in Economics, Universidad Nacional de La Plata)

In 2009 Argentina implemented a conditional cash transfer program targeted to poor informal households with children. In most cases the mother is the recipient of the subsidy. In this paper we estimate the impact of this program on female labor force participation by comparing mothers in eligible households with those in non-eligible households over time. The results suggest a negative and statistically significant effect of the program on female labor force participation. In contrast, there is no evidence for a negative effect on male labor supply. The welfare implications of these results are not clear and deserve further inspection. pdf-vector-otro

Losing Health Insurance When Young: Impacts on Usage of Medical Services and Health

Gaviria Garcés, Carlos Felipe (Colombian, Doctorado en Economía, Universidad del Rosario)

In this study we exploit a regulation in Colombia that exogenously changes health fito analyze the effects of losing health insurance coverage on their health service usage and health status. We assess this effect using a regression discontinuity design (RDD) and data from the Encuesta Nacional de Calidad de Vida Survey for Colombia from 2010 to 2013. Losing coverage implies an increase in the cost of some medical services which may reduce their consumption (i.e. preventive services). Additionally, since under Colombian regulations, emergency department (ED) visits cannot be denied to anyone, regardless of health insurance status, uninsured young adults tend to use this service more instead of regular medical services (such as preventive healthcare or visits to physicians or specialists). We find, consistent with the change in relative prices, that losing health insurance when turning 18 years old increases the visits to the ED, reduces preventive care visits with a physician, and reduces the usage of other medical services. These results imply a substitution of cheaper medical services for more expensive ones when individuals turn 18 years old in Colombia. pdf-vector-otro

Efectos sobre el empleo de la extensión de la cobertura de salud a los cónyuges de los trabajadores formales. Diferencias entre hombres y mujeres.

Parada, Cecilia (Uruguayan, PhD in Economics, Universidad Nacional de La Plata)

There is ample evidence that firms and individuals in developed countries react to the incentives introduced by tax and benefit systems. There is less evidence of these types of reactions in developing countries, and this is due in part to the fact to the prevalence of labor market informality, which implies an additional margin of adjustment. This paper evaluates the impact of a policy in Uruguay that extended health insurance access to formal workers’ partners on labor market outcomes. The study covers men and women’s employment participation and informality status, and pays particular attention to individuals in couples and their joint reactions. In general, women are more prone than men to changing their employment choices. Therefore, this study will analyze differential behavioral reactions to incentives to participate in paid and unpaid work, and in registered employment. The empirical identification exploits the extension of coverage of contributive health insurance for partners of registered workers, which took effect December 2010. The identification strategy will rely on this exogenous policy change, comparing the labor market outcomes of single and married individuals over time, using a differences in differences framework. pdf-vector-otro

Five Randomized Impact Assessments of a Management and Resources Program for High Schools in Brazil

Rosa, Leonardo (Brazilian, Master in Economics, University of Sao Paulo)

We analyze the “Jovem de Futuro” (Youth with a Future) program, a field experiment implemented in 91 schools in five different Brazilian regions, attended by around 30,000 high school students. The program uses a set of specific actions to promote better management and provides financial assistance to schools, aiming at learning improvements and academic progress. The estimates indicate that the program has a positive impact on students’ mathematics and Portuguese test scores, ranging between 0.176-0.373 standard deviations. The results also show that treatment reduces dropout rates and grade repetition in some areas. pdf-vector-otro

Evaluación del impacto de las tasas retributivas en Colombia

Mendez Sayago, Johanna Mildred (Colombian, PhD in Economics of Natural Resources and Sustainable Development, Universidad Nacional Agraria la Molina convenio UNALM-UNAM)

This research proposal aims to evaluate the effectiveness of the Tasas Retributivas in Colombia, as a tool for controlling pollution of water bodies in Colombia, improving the econometric estimation of the impact of the Tasas Retributivas on dumping. First trying to prove by techniques for assessment of impact if the Tasas Retributivas led to a reduction in the concentration of pollutants BOD (Biochemical Oxygen Demand) and TSS (total suspended solids) in the discharges of firms. Later is to establish whether the decisions of abatement are taken under bounded rationality, obeying more to a perception of the remuneration rate as a penalty and not as an economic instrument. For this the significance of variables fee rate and collection of fees as a punitive instrument in a model of reducing the concentration of pollution discharges be determined. pdf-vector-otro

Efectos de la política de vivienda social. Evidencia para Argentina

Amendolaggine, Julian (Argentinean, Master in Economics, Universidad Nacional de La Plata)

This paper evaluates the impact of social housing policy implemented in Argentina, exploiting the assignment rule used in one of its jurisdictions to identify the causal effect on employment and credit. The paper evaluates an intervention which combines access to quality housing at a heavily subsidized cost, the granting of property rights, and the possible re-location in a suburb. The policy generates a reduction in formal employment of more than 7 percent (especially for women and people over 50) and a deterioration in the credit status, without debt increasing. pdf-vector-otro

Color-Blind Affirmative Action and School Choice

Cardoso, Thiago (Brazilian, Master in Economic Theory, University of São Paulo)

This paper intends to identify if the Law of Social Quotas, Law enacted by the Brazilian government in 2012 that guarantees 50 % of the seats in all federal universities for students who studied all high school period in public schools, has an impact on the school choice of students enrolled in private elementary schools. As before 2012 most Brazilian universities already had adopted some affirmative action, we analyze, building on a Diff-Diff regression, the impact of the Law in two states: Minas Gerais and São Paulo. In Minas Gerais, state where the law represents a significant institutional change in the access to public higher education, we estimate a 24% increase in the average probability of migration of the treated cohort. In São Paulo, where this change does not occur at the same level, the estimated increase is only 3%. We also estimate that in Minas Gerais the law have lower impact on students from higher quality private schools. pdf-vector-otro

Cuidados prenatales y salud del recién nacido: evidencia para Uruguay

Katzkowicz, Noemí (Uruguayan, Master in Economics, Universidad Nacional de La Plata)

This paper evaluates the impact of the program “Metas Asistenciales” implemented in Uruguay in 2008. The study provides evidence on the effects of prenatal care on the newborn’s health, using data from the Perinatal Information System of PAHO MSP regarding the universe of birth records from the years 2000 to 2013. This program allocated funds to health providers based on indicators about the use and quality of maternal health care services.  Our identification strategy is based on “differences in differences” approach, which exploits the variation in the timing of implementation between the public and the private health sectors. This methodology addresses potential biases due to unobserved heterogeneity, allowing us to estimate the causal effects of the program on birth health outcomes. Our results suggest that this policy had positive effects in terms of efficiency, as shown by the amount of prenatal care and other newborns’ health patterns measured by birth weight, percentage of children with low birth weight, neonatal mortality and pre-term births. pdf-vector-otro

Efecto de pares en el desempeño académico de alumnos de secundaria

Mariño Fages, Diego (Argentinean, Master in Economics, Universidad de San Andrés)

The objective of this project is to evaluate the existence of peer effects on the academic achievement of secondary school students. As it is widely stated in the literature, the fundamental difficulty in measuring it is how to disentangle the effects of friendships from the student’s decision to choose some friendships over others (i.e., the problem of self-selection). To overcome this difficulty, we construct a unique panel data set of students’ reported friendships before and after a natural experiment occurs. The experiment consists of reshuffling primary school students into different groups when they enter secondary school, which generates an exogenous variation in students’ peers and friends. Due to this exogenous variation and a particular fact from the networks’ literature, we can adopt an IV strategy. Additionally, the panel feature of the data allows us to control for fixed effects at the individual level. This approach will enable us to identify the causal effect of friendships on achievement.

Double-Shift High Schools and School Performance: Evidence from a Regression Discontinuity Design

Muñoz Pedroza, Carlos Martín (Mexican, Master in Economics, El Colegio de México)

Policymakers in developing countries often resort to double-shift schooling systems in order to maximize schooling supply under tight budget constraints. There is however some concern that this strategy trades off equality in school quality for cost effectiveness. In this paper we investigate whether or not this is the case. In order to overcome the selection problems in the assignment to the different shifts, we exploit the discontinuity in the assignment of students to the afternoon shift given their middle school GPA. Using data from administrative records and a socioeconomic survey in a high school system in Mexico City, we find that being assigned to the afternoon shift leads to a 12 percentage points increase in the probability of dropping out for female students, and a 12.4 percentage points decrease in this probability for male students. We then explore on the mechanisms behind this asymmetric response, and conclude that women are more negatively affected by worse peers than men, men respond more positively to having more homogenous groups, and men respond more positively to their relative ranking in their class than women. pdf-vector-otro

The effects of being subject to the Colombian apprenticeship contract on manufacturing firm performance.

Ospino, Carlos (Colombian, PhD in Economics, Universidad de los Andes) 

In this paper I evaluate the intent to treat local average treatment effects of the Colombian apprenticeship contract on manufacturing firm dynamics taking advantage of an exogenous variation generated by the reform it went through in 2002 and the regulation design. This evaluation is appealing because very little is known about the effects of apprenticeship policies on firm dynamics in developing countries. Moreover, this regulation has been in place for more than a decade but has not been evaluated. Results using a regression discontinuity design (RDD) which compares small firms subject to the regulation and those that are not, shows positive effects on output per worker (10 log points) and total factor productivity (20 log points). It also shows a negative effect on the average wage bill of directly hired workers (9 log points). These results suggest that small firms which became subject to the regulation adjusted their labor force more efficiently, thus increasing productivity but did not share these gains with their workers through higher wages. pdf-vector-otro

The impact of financial incentives on legal capacity development

Schiavon, Laura (Brazilian, PhD candidate, Pontifícia Universidade Católica do Rio de Janeiro) 

This paper uses a regression discontinuity approach to estimate the impact of judicial productivity on homicide rates. We exploit discontinuous rules of judicial district classification in Brazil. Our main results indicate that an increase in judicial performance significantly reduces local homicide rates. We show that elevating a district from first to second level raises its total number of sentences, sentences per judge, and sentences per process allocated to courts, and also reduces homicide rates. This effect is mostly driven by the selection of more productive and experienced judges in second level districts. This is the first causal analysis concerning the impact of judicial performance on homicide rates. pdf-vector-otro

Does Political Party Matter? Evidence from Close Races for Mais Médicos para o Brasil

Tavares, Rafael (Brazilian, Master in Economics, University of São Paulo) 

This research uses a regression discontinuity (RD) design in close electoral races to evaluate the Mais Médicos (‘More Physicians’) program, a project from the Brazilian Ministry of Health initiated in 2013. The program targets the provision of basic health services and the increase of the physicians per capita rate by transferring professionals to the Brazilian municipalities, which are constitutionally responsible for the basic health provision. By using a more credible source of exogenous variation in political alignment, the RD framework explores the fact that party affiliation of a municipality’s mayor changes discontinuously at the threshold between the victory or loss of an affiliated candidate. Specifically, we estimate the effect of the political alignment of local governments on the following program outcomes: i) number of physicians received by municipalities (intensive margin), and ii) the municipalities’ probability of participation (extensive margin). pdf-vector-otro

Evaluating the Impact of Natural Resource Management Programs in Agriculture Production

De los Santos Montero, Luis Alberto (Dominican, Master in Agricultural Economics, Pontificia Universidad Católica Madre y Maestra)

Knowing how effectively policies protect natural resources while farming is key to ensuring a better use of natural resources. In this paper, we analyze the economic impact of natural resources technologies delivered by the implementation of POSAF-II in Nicaragua. Results obtained from a weighted regression based on propensity score matching indicates that POSAF-II has had a positive impact on the total value of agricultural production of beneficiary farmers. An IRR of 33 per cent supports the hypothesis that increasing household income while encouraging a sustainable use of natural resources is possible through the implementation of natural resources management programs.

Peer effect of After School Programs on vulnerability and academic outcomes in highly violent schools: Evidence from El Salvador

Dinarte, Lelys (Salvadorean, PhD in Economics, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile) 

This paper studies the impact of After-School Clubs on students’ academic and violence-related outcomes, using an experimental design. Participants are enrolled in schools located in highly violent communities in a developing country. The premise is that clubs improve children’s ability to handle conflicts, which also allows them to improve their protection factors and academic performance. Then, randomly assigning students in heterogeneous (non-tracking) or homogeneous (tracking) groups according to their predicted violence level, this paper directly measures peer effects on academic and non-cognitive outcomes. As results, there is a positive effect of the program on grades and behavior. Also a reduction in self- and external reports of students’ violence and delinquency actions. Finally, we find a reduction in their perception of exposition to risky environments outside school. These results are driven by the homogeneous groups when they are compared with the control groups; but there is no impact differences due to the group composition. Finally, I find differences in terms of gender and the initial predicted level of violence. With these results, I will contribute to the design and implementation of public policies to prevent violence in children and adolescents involved in highly risky school environments. pdf-vector-otro

¿Lo que importa es lo de adentro? El efecto del atractivo físico y la confianza en la percepción de productividad

Pantoja Dueñas, John (Colombian, Master in Economics – Pontificia Universidad Javeriana)

The process of selecting employees within a company can be subject to failures, given that the information available to employers is limited, because a resume does not perfectly show the level of productivity of an employer. And therefore employers can make biased decisions based on characteristics that are not relevant to productivity by generating unjustified benefits or penalties to employees. This research studies the effect of the level of physical attractiveness and confidence of potencial employees in the perception of productivity that the employers have when making an estimation of the future performance not related to thelevel of physical attractiveness of the applicant. A laboratory experiment modifies the way information is displayed in resumes; this results in a different result from the related literature: A higher level of physical attractiveness of employees is negatively related to their perception of their productivity, and it is also found that employers perceive workers as less productive when they are more attractive.

Transferencias condicionadas, educación y trabajo infantil. Evidencia empírica para Ecuador

Egas, Maria Isabel (Ecuadorian, PhD in Economics – Universidad Nacional de La Plata

A Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) program is one of the most widely used public policy tools in Latin America and the Caribbean. In Ecuador, the current CCT program called “Bono de Desarrollo Humano” (BDH) aims to upgrade the wellbeing of the most vulnerable households in the country. The program requirements are tied to education indicators. In order to identify the causal impact of the program on human capital formation outcomes for the younger members of beneficiary households, we exploit the program election rule. This rule provides us with an eligibility threshold, which allows us to apply the methodology of Regression Discontinuity Design. The results show a significant and positive effect on enrollment rates of the beneficiaries; however, there is no effect on school assistance or child work in 2014. Thus, it is possible to conclude that the BDH program has a “report effect”. pdf-vector-otro

Tragedia de Once y cambio de concesiones: evaluación del impacto sobre la demanda del servicio de ferrocarril Once - Moreno

Italia, Matías (Argentinean, Master in Economics, Universidad Nacional de la Plata

The main objective of the Project is to evaluate the impact of a train accident, known as the “Tragedia de Once”, and the consequent change of concessions.
Given that the accident cannot be considered as an exogenous shock, we identify the causal effect of the accident based on a Synthetic Controls methodology.
As a control group we propose to use a combination of different branches to construct a synthetic control that mirrors relevant features of Sarmiento railway before the accident.
The results indicate that for the post-accident period that runs from March 2012 to February 2014, the evolution of tickets sold by train is an average 53% lower than the synthetic control. However, this effect begins to decrease from the first quarter of 2013, and practically disappears by March 2014.
This work offers an original contribution to the literature, since to date no records have been found on impact assessments related to rail accidents in Argentina pdf-vector-otro

Impacto de los Programas de Transferencias de Ingresos en la Calidad de la Vivienda Familiar: Evidencia para el Plan de Inclusión Social, Argentina

Palacios, Alfredo Daniel (Argentinean, Master in Economics, Universidad Nacional de la Plata)

The proposal aims to analyze whether cash transfer programs could generate benefits for vulnerable population beyond the conditionalities required for their perception. In particular, I examine the effect that might have had the “Plan de Inclusión Social”, a massive cash transfer program implemented in the province of San Luis in May 2003 on an indicator that reflects the adequate quality of housing of the families. For this, a panel data at the level of the argentine agglomerates for the period 1997-2006 is built, and the Synthetic Control Method is used to identify the causal impact of the program on the variable of interest, controlling for a set of relevant covariates. In addition, a series of placebo experiments are performed, and I exploited as a natural experiment the plebiscite to which the program was subject in August 2004, with the intention to provide robustness to the results. It is expected that the results obtained from this work contribute to informed discussion whether cash transfers programs could have welfare effects beyond the conditionalities required, enabling an intertemporal increase in the living standards of the population. pdf-vector-otro

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