Avitabile C, Bobba M, Pariguana M (2015) High School Track Choice and Financial Constraints:Evidence from Urban Mexico, Policy Research Working Paper 7427 pp. 1-41 World Bank Group
Parents and students from different socioeconomic backgrounds
value differently school characteristics, but the
reasons behind this preference heterogeneity are not
well understood. In the context of the centralized school
assignment system in Mexico City, this study analyzes
how a large household income shock affects choices
over high school tracks exploiting the discontinuity in the assignment of the welfare program Oportunidades.
The income shock significantly increases the probability
of choosing the vocational track vis-a-vis the other
more academic-oriented tracks. The findings suggest
that the transfer relaxes the financial constraints that
prevent relatively low-ability students from choosing
the schooling option with higher labor market returns.
Avitabile C, Clots-Figueras I, Masella P (2014) Citizenship, fertility, and parental investments, American Economic Journal: Applied Economics 6 (4) pp. 35-65 American Economic Association
Citizenship rights are associated with better economic opportunities for immigrants. This paper studies how in a country with a large fraction of temporary migrants the fertility decisions of foreign citizens respond to a change in the rules that regulate child legal status at birth. The introduction of birthright citizenship in Germany in 2000, represented a positive shock to the returns to investment in child human capital. Consistent with Becker's "quality-quantity" model of fertility, we find that birthright citizenship leads to a reduction in immigrant fertility and an improvement in health and socio-emotional outcomes for the children affected by the reform.
We use data from the randomized control trial of the Percepciones pilot to study whether providing 10th grade students with information about the average earnings associated with different educational attainments, about life expectancy, and about obtaining funding for higher education can contribute to improving student performance. We find that the intervention had no effects on a proxy for on-time high school completion, but a positive and significant impact on standardized test scores and selfreported measures of effort. The effects on standardized test scores are larger for girls and for students from households with relatively high incomes. We find evidence that only students with adequate initial conditions are able to translate increased effort into improved school performance. Girls in the treatment group are more likely to have changed their aspirations.
Avitabile C (2011) Spillover Effects in Healthcare Programs: Evidence on Social Norms and Information Sharing, Working Paper No 271 pp. 1-55 Centre for Studies in Economics and Finance
Although cervical cancer is considered one of the most preventable types of cancer, mortality rates in many developing countries are extremely high. This paper exploits the randomized research design of a large welfare program - PROGRESA - to study the size and determinants of spillover effects in cervical cancer screening in rural Mexico. I find significant evidence of increased demand for Papanicolaou cervical cancer screening among women ineligible for the transfer, yet no evidence of similar externalities in non-gender specific tests, such as blood pressure and blood sugar checks. Different pieces of evidence from the randomized evaluation sample and the nationwide rollout are consistent with the hypothesis that the PROGRESA program has weakened the social norm related to husbands' opposition to screening of their wives by male doctors. I find no support for the hypothesis that the spillover effect is driven by higher levels of health information.
We use data from the randomized control trial of the Percepciones pilot to study whether providing 10th grade students with information about the average earnings associated with different educational attainments, life expectancy, and obtaining funding for higher education can contribute to improving student outcomes. We find that the intervention had no effects on a proxy for on-time high school completion, but a positive and significant impact on standardized test scores and self-reported measures of effort. The effects on standardized test scores are larger for girls and for students from households with relatively high incomes. We also find positive, but not statistically significant effects, on the probability of taking a university entry exam and of obtaining a high score in the exam.