Essays in Applied Microeconomics and Development Economics
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This dissertation brings new causal evidence on three topics in development economics, economic demography, and political economy. In the first chapter, I study how aggregate income shocks affect the health and survival of children. I focus on the Peruvian coca industry to exploit a natural experiment. I assess the impacts of plausibly exogenous changes in the price of the coca crop on child mortality in coca-producing areas in a difference-in-difference framework. I find that child health is vulnerable to income losses. In the second chapter, I study how exposure to mass media affect household choices. In particular, I analyze the impacts of exposure to commercial television on fertility in the 1950s in the United States. I tackle this question empirically by exploiting variation in the introduction of television across time and space. I find that television is associated with fewer births. Finally, in the third chapter, I study the consequences of electing low-quality politicians to public office for the provision of public goods. I evaluate the impacts of electing criminal politicians in Peru using a regression-discontinuity design. The analysis suggests that electing a criminal politician is associated with increases in public expending; however, I show that pre-existing levels of expenditure drive these effects.
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