Research Work

‘College Licensing and Reputation Effects on the Labor Market’ with Fabiola Alba Vivar, and José Flor-Toro

Current Version:

We study the effects on labor market outcomes of a licensing process that led to the closure of 1/3 of Peruvian colleges (2016-2021). Using a rich panel dataset of recent college graduates and a difference-in-differences model, we find an increase in wages for graduates from colleges that obtained a license and no significant effects for graduates from universities whose license was denied.

‘Vote for Hollywood: the Effects of US Indirect Propaganda on Italian Elections’ with Mario Cannella

Current Version:

We document an unexplored medium affecting electoral choices: cinema. We study the effects of exposure to Hollywood movies on voting choices during the Cold War in Italy. We employ an instrumental variable approach, combining spatial access to cinema with time variation in the success of U.S. movies at the box office before elections. We find that greater exposure to U.S. movies before elections led to gains for U.S.-endorsed parties, and losses for the Italian Communist Party, while turnout was minimally affected.

‘Local Specialization and Growth:The Italian Land Reform’ with Riccardo Bianchi Vimercati, and Giampaolo Lecce

Current Version:

Land distribution has ambiguous effects on structural transformation: large landowners can slow industrialization by limiting the provision of education, but larger scale and local market power might accelerate the mechanization of production. We examine the effects of redistribution following the Italian 1950 land reform and find that redistribution led to less industrialization. We explain this finding with a reduction in the scale of operations and a more intensive use of family labor. Agricultural specialization persisted for at least 50 years, consistent with models of occupational inheritance. Finally, we show that expropriated areas had lower growth during 1970-2000.

‘College Expansion and Unequal Access to Education in Peru’ with José Flor-Toro

Current Version:

Enrollment gaps are pervasive in developing countries, despite public investment and legislation aimed at democratizing access to college. We study the effects of opening new college campuses in underserved areas, a commonly proposed policy to reduce such gaps. Using Peruvian census data to estimate a difference in differences model, we find that enrollment increased by about 1p.p. or 10% in the short term. However, estimated effects for minority students are only half the size of others, widening preexisting gaps. To understand the drivers of this result, we assemble a new administrative dataset on college applications and build a model of education demand with heterogeneity in preferences and probability of admission. The results show that the interaction of initial advantage and meritocratic criteria increases educational inequality: even though proximity is highly valued by less-advantaged students, meritocratic admission criteria hinder poor and minority students, who disproportionately attend lower-quality high schools. Our counterfactuals show that addressing high school quality disparities is more likely to reduce college enrollment inequality than further supply expansions.