Giving birth under the weather: Heat waves and perinatal care in Mexico – Work in progress

MaxtempwithtitleClimate change is potentially the largest health policy challenge of the century, and one important dimension of it is the increase in frequency and strength of extreme weather events. Pregnant women, the developing fetus, and young children have an increased sensitivity to the effects extreme weather events, due to other vulnerabilities that characterize these groups. In this paper, I study the impact of heat waves in Mexico during the period 2008-2018 on maternal and child health outcomes. I focus on the delivery day and disentangle the physiological, heat-stress mechanism from the its impact through changes in the efficacy of public health services. To this aim, I combine daily gridded weather data from Daymet (NASA) with detailed birth records from Mexico and hospital discharge data. I analyze the impact that temperature extremes in the day of delivery have on child outcomes and on the care received. This is, to the best of my knowledge, the first study in economics that looks at the dynamics of perinatal care.


Gold Rush and Marriage Markets (with Anja Benshaul-Tolonen) – Presented at ASSA 2018, APPAM 2018 and SusDever 2018.

How does scarcity of women affect gender norms? We explore the gold rush in Western United States in the late 19th century as a natural experiment to answer this question. We use a geographic difference-in-difference methodology, exploiting the location and discovery of the gold deposits and its influence on sex ratios, to understand short term and medium term changes in women’s labor market participation and marriage market opportunities. Gold mining, and the oversupply of marriageable men with income, increased marriage rates among women. Women also married up: older men with higher prestige occupations. In parallel, the gold rush created a market based service sector economy, potentially catering to men with money but poor marriage prospects. We find support for the hypothesis that these effects persist in the medium term using the 1940 census, also when controlling for contemporaneous sex ratio and presence of mining.


Estimating the Long-run Relationships between State Cigarette Taxes and County Life Expectancy ( With Sanjay Basu, Aaron Baum and Emilie Bruzelius) – Under Review at Tobacco Control

A large body of literature suggests that tobacco control legislation—including fiscal measures such as excise sales taxes—reduces tobacco smoking, and that tobacco smoking confers such high risk of mortality that it may be plausibly related to large-scale variations in life expectancy across counties. Here, we test the hypothesis that increases in state cigarette excise taxes are positively associated with increases in life expectancy at the county level. We additionally examine whether the relationship between cigarette taxes and life expectancy varies by the sex, income, and rural/urban composition of a county, and whether it is mediated by changes to county smoking prevalence. Data on estimated life expectancy at birth for all U.S. counties across the period 1996 to 2012 by sex was merged to state cigarette excise tax rates by year. A multilevel dynamic panel regression model with fixed effects for county was used to assess relations between tax rates and life expectancy, separately estimating short-run and longer-run associations. We found that for every 1 dollar increase in cigarette tax per pack, county life expectancy increased over the long-run by approximately 6 months for men and 4 months for women, on average. We also found that the benefit of the policy was greater in lower-income and rural counties, and that the association was mediated by long-run reductions in county smoking prevalence.

Menstruation, Boys and Stigma: Evidence from Tanzania (with Anja Benshaul-Tolonen and Naomi Batzer) – Work in Progress.

schoolgirlsFemale empowerment policies almost exclusively target women. This project explores the potential role for including boys in empowerment programs in developing countries. The context is menstrual hygiene management in secondary schools in Tanzania. Girls often face fear, stigma and hardship when managing periods. In this project, we explore how stigmas can be sustained when the stigmatized topic is plausibly universal. In addition, we explore the role of including boys in menstrual health curriculum in determining girls’ welfare. In a separate but adjacent paper we use network analysis and list experiments to cross-verify self-reporting of stigmatized and socially undesirable behavior.


Climate shocks, son preference and gender gaps: Evidence from Southeast Asia (With Jesse McDervitt) – Work in Progress

What is the role of early-childhood inequality in determining adult gender gaps in income and education in developing countries? To explore this question, we analyze how households respond to environmental shocks: do they reallocate resources to pregnant women and young children? Does this reallocation favor sons over daughters? We use econometric methods combining socio-economic and geographic data to relate child and adult outcomes to weather patterns in South and Southeast Asia.