Grants for Graduate Thesis - 2016

In the context of the project "Fostering capacities in Impact Evaluation in Latin America," the Center for Distributive, Labor and Social Studies, CEDLAS with the support of the International Development Research Centre (IDRC-Canada), organized a third call for thesis proposals that use Impact Evaluation techniques for PhD and Master's students based in Latin America.

The selected proposals are:

Calvo, Sebastián (Peruvian, Master in Economics - Universidad del Pacífico) "Impacto de un programa de transferencias condicionadas en Perú en la participación de las mujeres en la toma de decisiones del hogar"
Conditional cash transfer (CCT) programs are often targeted to women under two assumptions: (i) that their spending patterns favor investment in children’s health and human capital, and (ii) that giving them money increases their participation in household economic decisions. While there is abundant evidence supporting the former, evidence supporting the latter is still scarce. This project aims to estimate the effect of Juntos, a CCT program in Peru on the participation of women on household economic decisions. To this end, it uses a regression discontinuity (RD) design in a welfare index used to target program beneficiaries, using a Demographic and Health Survey. Participation is measured using an economic empowerment index that considers: i) participation in everyday household purchases, ii) participation in large household purchases, iii) control over own income, and iv) control over partner’s income. 

De los Santos Montero, Luis Alberto (Dominican, Master in Agricultural Economics - Pontificia universidad Católica Madre y Maestra) "Evaluating the Impact of Natural Resource Management Programs in agriculture production"
Dealing with poverty reduction and natural resource degradation entails choosing appropriate mechanisms so as to achieve better living standards while also promoting the sustainable use of natural resources. In this context, generating evidence based on the rigorous analyses of the effects of interventions designed to improve the management of natural resources and farmer income has become an important priority for policy makers, and donors. However, rigorous analyses documenting the impact of these projects are scarce. A further limitation of the available studies is the lack of estimates of the internal rate of return (IRR) and benefit-cost ratios of the NRM investments, which makes it difficult for policymakers to compare alternative investments. In order to tackle the current state of the literature, in this paper, we analyze the economic impact of natural resources technologies delivered by the implementation of POSAF-II in Nicaragua. To do so we use ordinary least squares (OLS), propensity score matching (PSM), propensity score weighted least squares (WLS) and instrumental variable (IV) regression.

Dinarte, Lelys (Salvadorean, PhD in Economics - Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile) “Peer effect of After School Programs on vulnerability and academic outcomes in highly violent schools: Evidence from El Salvador”

This research aims to measure the impact of an after school program (ASP) on violence and academic outcomes in schools located in urban communities in El Salvador, a developing country with high levels of violence and crime. Particularly, I analyze how group composition in this ASP may improve its effectiveness, i.e. if the impact of implementing an ASP in heterogeneous groups according to their levels of violence is greater than the gains of targeting these programs to more homogeneous groups, then I will find evidence of the existence of peer effects within the ASP. To measure this, I experimentally separate the students into three groups: a heterogeneous group and two homogeneous group, the first one composed by students with high levels of violence and the second one by students with low levels of violence. Finally, I measure the spillovers of the ASP on violence outcomes of other non-treated children, which are in the sociograms of the ASP participants. Since the school and home are spaces where children interact with each other and transmit experiences and behaviors, it is likely that untreated students by these clubs may benefit because they learn non-violent behaviors of the treated. The main contribution of this research is to the design of public policy to prevent violence, oriented to students enrolled in public schools in a developing country.

Dueñas, John (Colombian, Master in Economics - Pontificia Universidad Javeriana) “Is what is inside what really matters? The effect of physical allure and confidence on hiring processes”
"The selection process of new employees made within a company may be subject to failure due to the limited information that employers have. A resume or interview does not necessarily reflect the productivity of the applicants. An improper match recruitment has several implications for companies in terms of additional costs related to the dismissal of workers who were hired and did not meet productivity expectations, the costs of a new search and of additional training of workers. These hiring mistakes can be avoided when a company uses a structured hiring process. However, are not used frequently.
One of the possible causes of failure in the selection process is related to a cognitive bias known as the ""Halo Effect"" which, in decision-making in the labor field, makes the available information of a person have a positive or negative influence in other characteristics of which knowledge is not available and for which there is no relationship, such as the true productivity of a candidate for the job.
This research will study the effect of physical attractiveness through a collection of variables related to employment, a measure of physical attractiveness, and a set of treatments related to common procedures to evaluate potential job seekers. The study seeks to separately  identify the effect of variables related to productivity  from the variables that can be related to physical attractiveness, helping to a better understanding of the selection process in the labor market."

Egas, Maria Isabel (Ecuadorian, PhD in Economics - Universidad Nacional de La Plata) "Transferencias condicionadas monetarias y sus efectos en salud, educación y trabajo infantil. Evidencia empírica para Ecuador."

A Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) program is one of the most widely used public policy tools in Latin America and the Caribbean to compensate coverage imbalances in social protection policies. In Ecuador, the current CCT program called “Bono de Desarrollo Humano” (BDH) aims  to upgrade the wellbeing of the most vulnerable households in the country. The program requirements are tied to education and health indicators. In order to identify the causal impact of the program on human capital formation outcomes for the younger members of beneficiary households, we exploit the program election rule. This rule provides us with an eligibility threshold, generated through a proxy mean test, which allows us to apply the methodology of Regression Discontinuity Design.

Italia, Matías (Argentinean, Master in Economics, Universidad Nacional de la Plata) "Tragedia de Once y Cambio de Concesiones: Evaluación de Impacto sobre la Seguridad de los Pasajeros de la Línea de Ferrocarril Sarmiento"

"The main objective of the Project is to evaluate the impact of a train accident, known as the “Tragedia de Once”, and the consequent change of concessions, on the Sarmiento’s railway passenger safety. 
Given that the accident cannot be considered as an exogenous shock, we propose to identify the causal effect of the accident based on a DID and Synthetic Controls methodology.
As a control group in the first methodology, we are planning to use a set of otherbranches that have had the same tendency in terms of passenger safety as the Sarmiento railway before the accident. As for the Synthetic Controls methodology, we propose to use a combination of different branches to construct a synthetic control that mirrors relevant features of Sarmiento railway before the accident. 
The project also intends to assess whether the shocks caused by railway accidents in general affect the decisions of passengers in deciding to use this mean of transportation or not. We rely on an event study for this purpose. The contribution of this project is the originality of the topic, as we found no evidence of prior research regarding impact evaluations of this kind. Moreover, we believe the results of the study will be of great interest to policymakers because of the importance of the railway system for the National Government in terms of safety, subsidies and investment."

Palacios, Alfredo Daniel (Argentinean, Master in Economics, Universidad Nacional de la Plata) "The Impact of Cash Transfers Programs on Housing Quality: Evidence for the “Plan de Inclusión Social” Program, Argentina"

The proposal aims to analyze whether cash transfer programs could generate benefits for vulnerable population beyond the conditionalities required for their perception. In particular, I examine the effect that might have had the “Plan de Inclusión Social”, a massive cash transfer program implemented in the province of San Luis in May 2003 on an indicator that reflects the adequate quality of housing of the families. For this, a panel data at the level of the argentine agglomerates for the period 1997-2006 is built, and the Synthetic Control Method is used to identify the causal impact of the program on the variable of interest, controlling for a set of relevant covariates. In addition, a series of placebo experiments are performed, and I exploited as a natural experiment the plebiscite to which the program was subject in August 2004, with the intention to provide robustness to the results. It is expected that the results obtained from this work contribute to informed discussion whether cash transfers programs could have welfare effects beyond the conditionalities required, enabling an intertemporal increase in the living standards of the population.


Information about the first call >

Information about the second call >

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