Working Papers

Tripping at the Finish Line: Experimental Evidence on the Role of Misperceptions on Secondary School Completion

Awarded George Borts’ Prize in recognition of an outstanding Ph.D. dissertation. Department of Economics. Brown University.

Students may put insufficient effort into graduating due to inaccurate beliefs about graduation probabilities or the economic benefits of obtaining a high school diploma, missing out on large economic returns. In an experiment with senior high-school students in Argentina, I test the effectiveness of providing information about efficiently allocating effort during senior year, to correct beliefs about their graduation chances. A separate group receives information about the returns to education. The treatments increase graduation by 10 and 20 percent, respectively, and college enrollment by 38 percent. Graduation improvements are larger for students with a lower probability of graduating at baseline.

Coverage: Development Impact World Bank Blog

Do Patients Value High-Quality Medical Care? Experimental Evidence from Malaria Diagnosis and Treatment with Anja Sautmann and Simone Schaner 

Can information about the value of diagnostic tests improve provider practice and help patients recognize higher quality of care? In a randomized experiment at public clinics in Mali,  health providers and patients received tailored information about the importance of rapid diagnostic tests (RDTs) for malaria. The provider training increased provider reliance on RDTs, improving the match between a patient's malaria status and treatment with antimalarials by 15-30 percent. Nonetheless, patients were significantly less satisfied with the care they received, driven by those whose prior beliefs did not match their true malaria status. The patient information intervention did not affect treatment outcomes or patient satisfaction and reduced malaria testing. These findings are consistent with highly persistent patient beliefs that translate into low demand for diagnostic testing and limit patients' ability to recognize improved quality of care.

The Socioeconomic Outcomes of Native Groups in Argentina with Pedro Dal Bó

This study uses individual-level census data from Argentina to examine the socioeconomic disparities between Native and non-Native people. Native people fare worse across a variety of indicators, including housing, education, employment, and health. On average, the observed disparities amount to 12 percent of the standard deviation and persist even after controlling for factors such as geographic location. Furthermore, there are differences in the intergenerational transmission of education between Natives and non-Natives: for each level of education of the parents, the children of Natives have, on average, fewer years of education than the children of non-Natives. Finally, the study also reveals large differences between Native groups: while some achieve average outcomes that surpass those of the non-Native population, others significantly lag behind. Notably, these differences are correlated with a characteristic of their pre-Columbian economy: the practice of agriculture.


"Exacerbated Inequalities: the Learning Loss from COVID-19 in Italy" with Michela Carlana and Eliana La Ferrara, AEA Papers and Proceedings, vol. 113, pp. 489-493 (2023). 

“Does Patient Demand Contribute to the Overuse of Prescription Drugs?” with Anja Sautmann and Simone Schaner, American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, vol. 14, number 1, pp. 225260 (2022).

Long-run effects of youth training programs: Experimental evidence from Argentina” with María Laura Alzúa and Guillermo Cruces, Economic Inquiry, vol. 54, issue 4, pp. 1839–1859 (2016).

“Effect of a community-led sanitation intervention on child diarrhoea and child growth in rural Mali: A cluster randomised controlled trial” with Amy Pickering, Habiba Djebbari, Massa Coulibaly, and Maria Laura Alzua, The Lancet Global Health, vol. 3, number 11, pp. 701–711 (2015).

“The long and winding road towards fiscal decentralization” with María Laura Alzúa, Económica-Universidad Nacional de La Plata, vol. LX, pp. 3-43 (2014).

“A Multidimensional Poverty Analysis: Recent Evidence of the Regions of Argentina” with Romina Safojan, Revista de Economía Política de Buenos Aires - Universidad de Buenos Aires (REPBA), 7, vol. 12, pp. 9-44 (2013).

Work in Progress

Experimental evidence on data-driven remedial instruction in the Dominican Republic with Astrid Pineda

Learning losses due to COVID-19 have been substantial, especially for students coming from low socioeconomic backgrounds, further worsening existing learning deficits in many developing countries. To address these losses, the use of tutoring and computer-assisted instruction holds promise for accelerating learning recovery. However, there is limited knowledge on how education systems can effectively implement these approaches at scale. Computer adaptive learning (CAL) softwares are particularly noteworthy for their ability to cater to students' individual learning levels. However, most evidence on CAL is based on after-school settings and primary-school-aged children, making it challenging to extrapolate to older students or in-school settings. Tutoring, while effective, faces scalability challenges due to cost and availability of qualified tutors. In this proof-of-concept phase, we aim to evaluate an in-school intervention combining CAL with group tutoring as a potentially more scalable alternative to accelerate learning recovery among teenagers. Moreover, we aim to generate evidence on whether using CAL-generated data for targeted tutoring and teacher support can lead to better student outcomes. We plan to use in-depth data, including on teaching practices and teachers’ time use, to investigate the underlying mechanisms behind the observed changes.

State: Implementation completed, ongoing data collection

Self- vs. social-image concerns: evidence from teenagers in Salta, Argentina 

Our research speaks to the problem of low high-school graduation rates in developing countries. To study this question, we analyze the impact of an intervention in the province of Salta, Argentina. The policy took place in one school that did not allow students who do not pass all subjects by the end of the academic year to participate in the graduation ceremony (traditionally, students are allowed to participate even if they do not have a passing grade in all subjects). Since the program started in 2015 the graduation rate increased by 14 p.p., a result that the school authorities attribute to the success of the program.

State: Administrative data collection finished

Shifts and high-school graduation with Natalia Cantet, Santiago Hermo, and Juan Pedro Ronconi 

We study the effects of randomization of school shifts (morning or afternoon) at the beginning of secondary school on academic achievement and behavior. Evidence on this question is mixed, with some papers suggesting that later shifts benefit from improved sleeping, whereas others emphasizing that later shifts induce risky behavior in the students earlier in life, harming academic achievement. We will analyze the entire trajectory of these students while in high school to determine the impact of school shift at each age. We will evaluate the role of peers and parents in those outcomes.

State: Administrative data collection finished