Published Work

Thermal stress and financial distress: Extreme temperatures and firms’ loan defaults in Mexico

The frequency and intensity of extreme temperature events are likely to increase with climate change. Using a detailed dataset containing information on the universe of loans extended by commercial banks to private firms in Mexico, we examine the relationship between extreme temperatures and credit performance. We find that unusually hot days increase delinquency rates, primarily affecting the agricultural sector, but also non-agricultural industries that rely heavily on local demand. Our results are consistent with general equilibrium effects originated in agriculture that expand to other sectors in agricultural regions. Additionally, following a temperature shock, affected firms face increased challenges in accessing credit, pay higher interest rates, and provide more collateral, indicating a tightening of credit during financial distress.

The Evolution and Persistence of Women’s Roles: Evidence from the Gold Rush

Industrial development has ramifications for women’s participation in labor markets and society, in the short and long run. We explore the Gold Rush that took place in the Western United States in the second half of the 19th century. The Gold Rush led to high male-skewed inward migration and created gender-specific job market opportunities, with men entering mining employment and women entering the service sector. In gold mining counties, both men and women worked less in farming. After revealing the baseline patterns, we disentangle the direct effect of gold mining from the mediating effect of the skewed sex ratio, using formal mediation analysis. The skewed sex ratio is driving lower marriage rates for men, and higher female participation in the service sector. The results are consistent with surviving written accounts from the time, suggesting a high premium for traditionally female services. Using census data spanning almost a century, we show that these differences persisted long after the initial conditions of the Gold Rush had passed.

This Is Air: The “Nonhealth” Effects of Air Pollution

A robust body of evidence shows that air pollution exposure is detrimental to health outcomes, often measured as deaths and hospitalizations. This literature has focused less on subclinical channels that nonetheless impact behavior, performance, and skills. This article reviews the economic research investigating the causal effects of pollution on “non-health” endpoints, including labor productivity, cognitive performance, and multiple forms of decision making. Subclinical effects of pollution can be more challenging to observe than formal health care encounters but may be more pervasive if they affect otherwise healthy people. The wide variety of possible impacts of pollution should be informed by plausible mechanisms and require appropriate hypothesis testing to limit false discovery. Finally, any detected effects of pollution, both in the short and long run, may be dampened by costly efforts to avoid exposure ex-ante and remediate its impacts \textit{ex-post}; these costs must be considered for a full welfare analysis.

Biological, material and socio-cultural constraints to effective menstrual hygiene management among secondary school students in Tanzania

Menstrual hygiene management is an important determinant for girls’ educational outcomes. We develop a method of cross-sectional analysis that quantifies the relative importance of four distinct mechanisms: material, biological, social, and informational constraints and consider four main schooling outcomes: absenteeism, early departure, concentration, and participation. We use survey data from 524 female students enrolled in four co-educational secondary schools in Northern Tanzania. Information is the least binding constraint: 90-95\% of girls report they received information about menstruation and how to manage it. In contrast, biological constraints are hindering: (i) the distribution of menstrual cramps and pain is bifurcated: most girls report very light or extreme pain (rather than moderate) with considerable educational impacts for girls in the latter group, (ii) irregular cycles (62\%) and difficulty predicting the cycle (60\%) lead to stress and uncertainty. Socio-cultural constraints are binding as 84\% would feel shame if male peers knew their menstrual status, and 58\% fear being teased over periods. Material constraints include prohibitive costs: girls spend between 12-70\% of the daily national poverty line on pads during their period. However, we discern no statistically significant relationship between access to pads and absenteeism. In contrast, biological and socio-cultural constraints and lack of sanitary infrastructure significantly affect absenteeism. The results have several implications. First, sanitary pad interventions should consider participation and concentration as main outcomes, in addition to absenteeism. Second, biological (menstrual cramps and pain) and socio-cultural (fear, stigma) constraints are drivers of menstruation-related absenteeism and participation in the classroom and need to be evaluated in trials. We suggest exploring analgesic use, alternative pain-management techniques, menstrual cycle tracking technologies, and social programming in future trials.

Period teasing, stigma and knowledge: A survey of adolescent boys and girls in Northern Tanzania

Adolescent girls report stigma and teasing as worries surrounding menstruation. Menstrual hygiene interventions and research almost exclusively focus on girls and women, leading to a dearth of knowledge on male attitudes toward the topic. We surveyed adolescent boys in Tanzania on menstrual hygiene to explore determinants of boys' knowledge and teasing behavior. A sample of 432 boys and 524 girls were surveyed in four co-ed secondary schools in Western Tanzania about their menstrual health knowledge, attitudes, household stigma, and teasing behavior and experiences. 15\% of girls report having experienced period teasing, and 45\% fear being teased by male peers. Four out of five girls fear teasing related to insufficient menstrual hygiene management. Period related teasing and fears lead to lower school attendance and concentration and participation in the classroom. Boys report teasing female classmates because periods are embarrassing and if girls smell or have blood stains. Boys are well-informed about the basic biological facts of menstruation, scoring on average 60\% correct on a quiz, and they have received information from school curricula and health workers. Despite this, boys express that girls should hide periods and not discuss it with male peers, teachers or fathers. Period shaming and teasing is prevalent in secondary schools, despite access to accurate information. Lack of suitable menstrual hygiene practices causes social harm to girls through commonly practiced teasing. Including male students in menstrual health education is important to reduce acceptability of teasing behavior relating to menstruation.

Estimating the Long-run Relationships between State Cigarette Taxes and County Life Expectancy

While a large body of literature suggests that tobacco control legislation—including fiscal measures such as excise taxes—effectively reduces tobacco smoking, the long-run (10+ years) relationship between cigarettes excise taxes and life expectancy has not been directly evaluated. Here, we test the hypothesis that increases in state cigarette excise taxes are positively associated with long-run increases in population-level life expectancy. We studied age-standardised life expectancy among all US counties from 1996 to 2012 by sex, in relation to state cigarette excise tax rates by year, controlling for other demographic, socioeconomic and county-specific features. We used an error-correction model to assess the long-run relationship between taxes and life expectancy. We additionally examine whether the relationship between cigarette taxes and life expectancy was mediated by changes to county smoking prevalence and varied by the sex, income and rural/urban composition of a county. For every one-dollar increase in cigarette tax per pack (in 2016 dollars), county life expectancy increased by 1 year (95% CI 0.60 to 1.40 years) over the long run, with the first 6-month increase in life expectancy taking 10 years to materialise. The association was mediated by changes in smoking prevalence and the magnitude of the association steadily increased as county income decreased. Results suggest that increasing cigarette excise tax rates translates to consequential population-level improvements in life expectancy, with larger effects in low-income counties.

Working Papers

Environmental Justice Beyond Race: Skin Tone and Exposure to Air Pollution
Inside the black box of child penalties

Selected work in progress

  • Adaptation and mitigation of air pollution: Evidence from air quality warnings
  • Killer Congestion: Temperature, healthcare utilization and patient outcomes
  • With Joshua Graff Zivin and Matthew Neidell
  • Droughts of Desolation: Natural Disasters and Gender-Based Violence
  • With Andrea Salazar Díaz
  • Funded by the IADB GDLab