In this section you will find our articles and working papers on evidence based policy making.

Community mobilization around social dilemmas: evidence from lab experiments in rural Mali

Maria Laura Alzua, Juan Camilo Cardenas and Habiba Djebbari
May, 2014

Community mobilization is a key feature of community-based development projects. Community mobilization requires facilitating communication between village members and between leaders and the rest of the community. Is communication an effective method to foster collective action? Is it important to inform the community on how to reach a better social outcome? Should we expect the effectiveness of community-based programs to depend on the quality of leadership in the community? In rural communities in Mali, we find evidence of high levels of cooperation as measured by a standard public good game. Communication between players increases contributions to the public good. Spreading information through a random community member improves cooperation. Leadership skills also matter. We find evidence that suggests that changes in behavior are mediated through changes in beliefs. The experiments are embedded in a larger randomized controlled trial designed to evaluate the impact of a community-based sanitation intervention. As such, our results are relevant for a large population. Finally, we find that the program helps to strengthen the capacity for collective action.

Social incentives in contributions: field experiment evidence from the 2012 U.S. presidential campaigns

Ricardo Perez Truglia and Guillermo Cruces
April, 2014

This paper exploits the unique institutional setting of U.S. campaign finance to provide new evidence on social incentives in political participation. We conducted a field experiment in which letters with individualized information about campaign contributions were sent to 91,998 contributors in the 2012 U.S. presidential election. The effect of the letters on recipients’ subsequent contributions is examined using administrative data. We find that exogenously making an individual’s contributions more visible to her neighbors significantly increased her subsequent contributions if the majority of her neighbors support her same party, but decreased her contribution if the majority of her neighbors support the opposite party. This constitutes evidence that individuals give preferential treatment to neighbors of the same party. In another treatment arm, we randomized the information observed by recipients about neighbors’ contribution behavior. Consistent with existing evidence on social norms, individuals contribute more when neighbors of the same party contribute higher average amounts. Furthermore, we find that the individuals also care about the total amounts raised by the same and opposite parties. These findings result in implications for fundraising strategies, the design of optimal disclosure policies and the understanding of geographic polarization.

Social Science Research Network

Biased perceptions of income distribution and preferences for redistribution: evidence from a survey experiment

Guillermo Cruces, Ricardo Perez-Truglia and Martin Tetaz

Individual perceptions of income distribution play a vital role in political economy and public finance models, yet there is little evidence to detail the origins or accuracy of these perceptions. This study examines how individuals form perceptions and explores their potential impact on preferences for redistribution. A tailored household survey provides original evidence on systematic biases in individuals' evaluations of their own relative position in the income distribution. The study discusses one of the mechanisms that may generate such biases, based on the extrapolation of information from endogenous reference groups, and presents some suggestive evidence that this mechanism has significant explanatory power. The impact of these biased perceptions on attitudes toward redistributive policies is studied by means of an experimental design that was incorporated into the survey. The study provided a randomly selected group of respondents with consistent information on own-ranking within the income distribution. The evidence suggests that those who had overestimated their relative position and thought that they were relatively richer than they were tended to demand higher levels of redistribution when informed of their true ranking.

Journal of Public Economics 98 (2013) 100-112

El Impacto de un programa social sobre la informalidad laboral: el caso de la AUH en Argentina

Santiago Garganta and Leonardo Gasparini
June, 2012

The program Asignación Universal por Hijo in Argentina expands a benefit previously limited to formal employees to unemployed and informal workers. This extension may change work incentives by encouraging less participation in the formal secto that may have otherwise risen arisen in the absence of the program. In this paper, we estimate thise effect of the program over time by comparing a group of eligible households (informal, with children), with a similar group that was not eligible (no children). The results suggest a significant disincentive for the formalization of the beneficiaries, but no evidence of an incentive for informality of already registered workers.

Educational reform and labor market outcomes: the case of Argentina’s Ley Federal de Educación

María Laura Alzúa, Leonardo Gasparini and Francisco Haimovich
December, 2010

In the 1990s, Argentina implemented a large-scale education reform (Ley Federal de Educación – LFE) that extended compulsory education for two additional years. The timing of implementation substantially varied across provinces, which provided a source of identification for unraveling causal effects of the reform. The estimations derived from difference-in-difference models suggest that the LFE had an overall positive but mild impact on education and labor outcomes. The impact on income-deprived youths was small for education outcomes and null for labor outcomes.

Las Asignaciones Universales por Hijo: impacto, discusión y alternativas

Leonardo Gasparini y Guillermo Cruces
July, 2010

This paper explores the distributional impact of the universal family allowance a few months after its implementation in Argentina. The paper provides estimates of its potential direct impact on a set of variables, including monetary poverty and inequality, and contributes to a discussion of some alternatives to the program that was actually implemented. The paper argues that the country has advanced in the right direction in terms of its income transfer program policy, but also warns of the need to improve the structure of the reform and ensure its sustainability. The paper highlights some implementation alternatives.

The quality of life in prisons: do educational programs reduce in-prison conflicts?

María Laura Alzúa, Catherine Rodriguez and Edgar Villa
December, 2009

The degree and length of punishment and incarceration that is required for any given crime offense is mandated by law. However, poor quality of life in prison can make a punishment more severe. This creates a variation in the severity of punishment that is not legislated and may make experience of punishment differ from the penalties designed. Indicators of in-prison violence and conflicts seem to be appropriate proxy variables for prison conditions. Using indicators of in-prison violent behavior, we use an exogenous source in participation in educational programs in order to assess the effect of education on such measures of conflict. Applying instrumental variable techniques to census data for Argentine prisons, we find that educational programs significantly reduce indicators of property damages in prison. Such reductions amount to a 60 percent decrease relative to the mean level of property damages.

Labor informality effects of a poverty-alleviations program

Leonardo Gasparini, Francisco Haimovich y Sergio Olivieri
June, 2007

In the midst of a serious macroeconomic crisis, Argentina implemented a large social program – the Programa Jefes de Hogar (PJH) – that provides cash transfers to unemployed household heads meeting certain criteria. In practice, given the difficulties in monitoring informal jobs, the unemployment requirement of the PJH would imply a disincentive for the program participants to search for a formal job. By applying matching techniques we evaluate the empirical relevance of this prediction during the period of strong economic growth that followed the crisis. We find some evidence of the informality bias of the PJH when the value of the transfer was relatively high compared to wages in the formal labor market.

Other documents

This section will host documents related to our projects.


Flooding in La Plata, Argentina

La Nación - 06/02/2013
El Día - 06/02/2013
Página/12 - 06/03/2013
El Economista - 04/15/2013
Ámbito Financiero - 06/02/2013
InfoRegión - 06/03/2013
Radio La Voz - 06/03/2013
Nuevo Diario - 06/03/2013
La Arena - 06/03/2013
DERF - 06/03/2013
infoNEWS - 06/03/2013
El Comercial - 06/02/2013
La Mañana de Neuquén - 06/03/2013
Diario Inédito - 06/02/2013

What's new

Tenth Meeting

Impact Evaluation Network
Washington, D.C., USA
Call for Papers

March 22nd to 24th, 2017


Training on Impact Evaluation of Public Policies - Intermediate Level

Instructor(s): María Laura Alzúa, Guillermo Cruces, Santiago Garganta and Marcelo Bérgolo
La Plata, Argentina
October 17-21, 2016

Basic Training on Impact Evaluation of Public Policies

Instructor(s): María Laura Alzúa, Leonardo Gasparini, Martín Cicowiez
La Plata, Argentina
April 18-22, 2016

Impact Evaluation at Masters in Economics at Universidad Nacional de La Plata

Instructor(s): Maria Laura Alzua
La Plata, Argentina
Since 2009

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