Welcome! I am a PhD candidate in Economics at Rice University. My research focuses on education economics, and on the intersection of applied industrial organization and development economics.

I am currently on the Job Market (2020-21), and I will be available for interviews at the 2020 EJM/ESWM and the 2021 ASSA Virtual Meetings.

Here is the links to my CV.

Job Market Paper

  • Elections and Productivity in Procurement Auctions of Pavement Contracts in Mexico.
    Abstract When allocating contracts, governments decide between exercising hiring discretion or allowing a higher level of competition without firm selection. Ex-ante, it is not clear which allocation mechanism will lead to better outcomes. The trade-off depends in part on the government’s ability to select the best firms when restricting competition and on the probability that this practice will lead to corruption. In this paper, I study the allocation of street pavement contracts in Mexico and combine auction methods with an analysis of the firms' productivity to test whether local governments select the most cost-efficient firms when restricting competition. Furthermore, I study the firms' behavior under different auction formats. I find that firms selected to settings with less competition are more experienced and have lower costs in complex pavement projects, but have higher costs in simple ones. When comparing auction formats, firms are more aggressive under auctions by invitation than in public auctions in complex projects, but bid similarly under both auction formats in simple projects. Contrary to the current practice, the results suggest that the government would benefit from opening up simple projects to public auctions. The use of auctions by invitation for complex projects seems warranted, but mixed results on the influence of political factors raise concerns of misuse of a greater hiring discretion on the part of the government.

Publications

  • Developing Educational and Vocational Aspirations through International Child Sponsorship: Evidence from Kenya, Indonesia, and Mexico. (with Paul Glewwe, Phillip Ross, and Bruce Wydick). - World Development, April 2021
    Abstract The role of aspirations in facilitating movement out of poverty is a subject of increasing research in development economics. Previous work finds positive impacts from international child sponsorship on educational attainment, employment, and adult income. This paper seeks to ascertain whether the impacts of child sponsorship on educational outcomes may occur through elevated aspirations among sponsored children. Using an age-eligibility rule applied during program rollout to identify causal effects, we study whether international child sponsorship increases educational and vocational aspirations among a sample of 2,022 children in Kenya, Indonesia, and Mexico. While effects are heterogeneous, and strongest in Kenya, we find that, averaging over the three countries, sponsorship increased indices of self-esteem (0.25), optimism (0.26), aspirations (0.29) standard deviations respectively, and expected years of completed education (0.43 years). We find that sponsorship increases actual grade completion by 0.56 among children at the time of the survey, and mediation analysis suggests that the impact of sponsorship on aspirations is likely to mediate higher levels of grade completion. Our results contribute to a growing body of evidence indicating that the positive impacts of child sponsorship stem partly through elevating aspirations. More generally, our research contributes to a larger literature suggesting that the alleviation of internal constraints among the poor is a strong complement to addressing their external constraints.

Working Papers

  • International Child Sponsorship Impact on the Intended Choice of Acquiring a Higher Education Degree: the Case of Rural Mexico.
    Abstract This paper studies the impact of a child sponsorship program on the aspiration to acquire a higher education degree, among a sample of rural children in the states of Oaxaca and Chiapas in the south of Mexico. To account for the program's selection of sponsored children, I estimate a binary Roy type model with unobservables generated by a one-factor structure. I further account for the children's income beliefs by directly eliciting their subjective expected returns to schooling. I find that the average treatment effect on the treated is positive and consistent with previous studies of the sponsorship program, although it is not statistically significant. Estimates of the marginal treatment effect show that the sponsorship effect is higher for children most likely to be selected to the program. From the subjective income expectations data, I document that children in rural settings, 12 to 15 years old, have realistic although heterogeneous expectations, and present a clear gender gap, even at these young ages.

Work in Progress

  • Whose Opinion Matters Most for the Choice of a Major? The Relative Influence of Parents, Teachers and Peers. - (Data collection completed)
    Abstract The opinions of various individuals surrounding a student can influence her choice of major, yet we know little about their relative importance. In this paper, I combine survey data and administrative records of a large Mexican University to study whose approval, from the point of view of the student, influences more her intended choice of an area of study. Using a discrete choice model in conjunction with elicited perceived beliefs, I examine the relative influence of the student's parents, teachers, and friends. By studying how beliefs differ by gender, I further study the effect of the perceived approval of others on the enrollment gender gap in STEM majors.
  • Students’ Willingness to Pay for University Attributes.
    Abstract In developing countries, information on universities is not systematized at best and in general not available. Hence, it is difficult to analyze which university characteristics drive students' university choices. In this paper, I use a hypothetical choice methodology to elicit subjective probabilities and estimate a random utility model. The estimates allow me to indirectly measure the students' willingness to pay for university characteristics, which are interpreted in terms of tuition or in terms of forgone future earnings.

Book Chapters


Publications (Pre - PhD)