Do Robots Necessarily Displace Workers? Evidence from Mexican Local Labor Markets 

(Job Market Paper)

This study uses the rapid rise of automation in Mexico to examine the labor market effects of industrial robot adoption in industrializing countries. I combine unique data on robot imports with administrative, survey, and economic census data. I exploit spatial and time variation in robot imports across commuting zones to estimate the impacts of automation on labor market outcomes. I find that industrial robot adoption does not negatively affect formal employment and average wages in Mexico; these results contrast with findings for developed countries. I can rule out adverse effects of a size as large as -0.7% for formal employment and -0.01% for formal wages in the short run, and I find positive effects of 6% and 3%, respectively, in the long run. I also provide evidence that these results are not due to compositional effects. Additionally, I show that after a CZ starts importing robots, its aggregated gross value added per worker increases, consistent with the productivity effect dominating or compensating for any adverse displacement effect. Despite a substantial pool of unskilled labor, automation in industrializing economies such as Mexico can yield nonnegative employment effects because of the significant productivity enhancements associated with a higher price elasticity of demand and the early stages of automation.

Reconciling the Evidence on False Links in Historical Data

(with Martha Bailey, Connor Cole, and Jonas Helgertz)

This paper investigates the apparently contradictory reports of Type I errors (false links) in historical linked data and provides further evidence on their prevalence in commonly used historical datasets. Our first finding is that an important source of disagreement across studies is that they report different parameters. Lower error rates are typically conditional, in that they calculate Type I linking errors within the intersection of algorithm and ground truth datasets. Higher error rates are typically unconditional, in that Type I linking errors are computed for all algorithm links—the parameter of interest for analyses using linked samples for inference. A sufficient condition for the conditional error rate to reflect the true error rate is that the links in the intersection are representative of all algorithm links, which is rarely the case. Because most historical analyses of linked data do not have a ground truth, the much higher unconditional error rate is most relevant for inference with these samples. The paper proceeds to document the unconditional and conditional error rates—both overall and for subgroups—for widely used linking algorithms in the Oldest Old data from the Early Indicators Project. Lastly, we illustrate nontrivial differences in the potential presence of unconditional Type I error rates in the Multigenerational Longitudinal Panel and the Census Linking Project. 


Social Mobility and Economic Development 

(with Guido Neidhöfer, Leonardo Gasparini, and Matias Ciaschi), Journal of Economic Growth, 2023

We explore the relationship between social mobility and economic development. First, we map the geography of intergenerational mobility in education for 52 Latin American regions and examine its evolution over time. Then, through a new weighting procedure considering the level of participation of various cohorts in the economy in each year, we estimate the association between changes in mobility and regional economic indicators, such as income per capita, inequality, poverty, labor formality, and luminosity. Our findings show that increasing social mobility is consistently associated with economic development and growth in Latin America.

[Working Paper]

Economic Cycle and Deceleration of Female Labor Force Participation in Latin America

(with Leonardo Gasparini, Mariana Marchionni and Pablo Gluzmann),  Journal for Labour Market Research, 2019

We study the behavior of female labor force participation (LFP) over the business cycle by estimating fixed effects models at the country and population-group level, using data from harmonized national household surveys of 18 Latin American countries in the period 1987–2014. We find that female LFP follows a countercyclical pattern—especially in the case of married, with children and vulnerable women—which suggests the existence of an inverse added-worker effect. We argue that this factor may have contributed to the deceleration in female labor supply in Latin America that took place in the 2000s, a decade of unusual high economic growth.

Educational Inequality and Intergenerational Mobility in Latin America: A New Database 

(with Guido Neidhöfer and Leonardo Gasparini), Journal of Development Economics, 2018

The causes and consequences of the intergenerational persistence of inequality are a topic of great interest among various fields in economics. However, until now, issues of data availability have restricted a broader and cross-national perspective on the topic. Based on rich sets of harmonized household survey data, we contribute to filling this gap computing time series for several indexes of relative and absolute intergenerational education mobility for 18 Latin American countries over 50 years, and making them publicly available. We find that intergenerational mobility has been rising in Latin America, on average. This pattern seems to be driven by the high upward mobility of children from low-educated families; at the same time, there is substantial immobility at the top of the distribution. Significant cross-country differences are observed and are associated with income inequality, poverty, economic growth, public educational expenditures and assortative mating.

 [Project Webpage and Data]

Frontera de posibilidades de desigualdad en América Latina

(with Ivana Benzaquén), El Trimestre Económico 84(2), 427-461, 2017

This paper presents new evidence of the inequality possibility frontier and the inequality extraction ratio (the percentage of total inequality that was extracted by global elites) of Latin America (LA) in the last two decades. Moreover, we explore the relevance of the inequality extraction ratio (IER) in the analysis of social conflict, institutional instability and corruption.

[CEDLAS Working Paper] [AAEP]

Book Chapters

Characterizing female participation changes

(with Leonardo Gasparini, Mariana Marchionni and Nicolás Badaracco). In “Bridging gender gaps? The rise and deceleration of female labor force participation in Latin America”, Leonardo Gasparini and Mariana Marchioni (Eds), 2015

This chapter documents changes in female labor force participation (LFP) in Latin America exploiting a large database of microdata from household surveys of 15 countries in the period 1992-2012. We find evidence for a significant deceleration in the rate of increase of female LFP in the 2000s, breaking the marked increasing pattern that characterized the region for at least 50 years. The paper documents and characterizes this fact and examines various factors that could be driving the deceleration. Through a set of simple decompositions the paper helps to disentangle whether the patterns in female LFP are mainly accounted for by changes in the distribution of some direct determinants of the labor supply decision (e.g. education), or instead they are chiefly the consequence of some more profound transformation in behavior.

[Book Webpage]  [CEDLAS Working Paper] 

Work in progress

Social Mobility and Economic Development :  Cohort level analysis (with Guido Neidhöfer, Leonardo Gasparini, Matias Ciaschi, and Antonio Ciccone)

Effectiveness and Consequences of Occupation and Industry-specific Minimum Wages  (with Tomás Guanziroli)

Delaying pregnancy? Effect of Education on Teenage Fertility