Working Papers

Nutritious School Meals and Educational Outcomes” with Carmen Quezada draft


This paper estimates the impact of school meal quality on student outcomes. We take advantage of a staggered implementation of a national program that improved the nutritional content of meals in public schools in Chile starting in 2015. Using a Difference-in-Difference approach and national student-level data over six years, we estimate a credible Intention-to-Treat impact of healthier meals on Math and Reading test scores. We find an average increase of 0.036 standard deviations in combined scores. The students from the poorest and rural households present the largest effects. We explore possible mechanisms including attendance. We show indirect evidence that supports the main hypothesized mechanism, the improvement of food nutrients. In particular, we find evidence that the students from low-income households that are more often exposed to these nutritious meals are the ones who get the largest increase in their test scores. Finally, we calculate that it would cost 87 USD per year to raise a student’s test score by 0.1 standard deviations by providing healthier meals.

Staggered adoption of the healthier meals

Natural Disasters and Early Child Development: Evidence from an Earthquakedraft


This paper evaluates the effect of the 2010 Chilean earthquake in early life on children’s cognitive and non-cognitive development in the short and medium-run. I exploit the quasi-random spatial and temporal variation using a Difference-in-Difference approach. I find that seven years later children between in-utero and five years old at the moment of the earthquake decrease their Peabody test score by 0.06 standard deviations by each additional unit in the Mercalli intensity. In the short-term, I also find negative and significant effects on cognitive development around the same magnitude as in the medium-run. In terms of non-cognitive test scores, I find negative but not significant results seven years later. I explore three sets of mechanisms. First, in terms of mother’s risky behaviors, I find that mothers in most affected places by the earthquake increase their probability of behaving riskily, specifically, in smoking from in-utero up to the first six months of the child’s life. Second, I find a negative and significant effect on household income two months after the tremor equivalent to an 11% decrease in it; however, the effect faded away two years after the shock. Finally, in terms of health investment, no significant effect is found in breastfeeding or health care during and after pregnancy.

Daylight Saving Time and Automobile Accidents: Evidence from Chile" draft

Under the evidence that the Daylight Saving Time (DST) regime does not accomplish its primary goal of saving energy, I analyze one of the main side effects, automobile accidents in Chile between 2002-2018. I use a Regression Discontinuity Design (RDD) exploiting the discrete nature of the transition into DST and a Difference-in-Difference (DID) approach, taking advantage of the changes in dates that the policy starts and ends over the years. I find a 2.7 % reduction in automobile accidents under the DST regime. I isolate the two main mechanisms: sleep disruption and the reallocation of light. I find suggestive evidence that the sleep disruption effect plays a relevant role in both transitions: it increases automobile accidents by 6 % the first week following the transition into DST and decreases them by 3.9 % the first week following the transition into Standard Time (ST). Although I do not find conclusive evidence for the light effect using both strategies, using an additional approach, I do find it.


Contreras, D., Gillmore, R., Puentes, E. (2017). Self-Employment and Queues for Wage Work: Evidence from Chile. Journal of International Development, 29: 473-499. doi: 10.1002/jid.3074. 

Self-employment can be considered as either the result of a self-selection process or a reflection of rigidities and skill mismatch in the labour market or both. We estimate a double selection model where individuals queue for wage work instead of being self-employed in the first stage, followed by employers selecting from the queue in the second. We find statistical support for the double selection model, implying that some individuals are self-employed because they cannot find wage work, while other self-select to be self-employed. Individuals with higher education are more often chosen as wage workers, and belonging to an ethnic group decreases the likelihood of being chosen. Additionally, earnings equations suggest that high ability individuals perform better in both the wage work and self-employment sectors.

Castex, G., Gillmore, R.,  Poblete, I. (2019). Analyzing Flows in the Chilean Labor Market. Economía chilena, vol. 22, no. 2. (In Spanish).


This paper analyzes the dynamics of the salaried labor market in Chile using monthly micro data from the unemployment insurance data base. Flows between labor states are calculated, as well as flows between geographic areas and economic sectors. The analysis shows great dynamism of the labor market during the period analyzed. In particular, we find that a high proportion of workers change jobs without going through the state of unemployment. Construction, Business activities, Trade and Agriculture generate 62% of the dynamism in changes, i.e. creation and destruction of jobs. Around 78% of workers who change jobs also change their district. However, if we take into account changes outside the Metropolitan Region, the percentage drops to almost a fifth. Additionally, the Metropolitan Region is where most workers emigrate to other regions and where a higher percentage of Jobs are created and destroyed.

Work in Progress

Daylight Saving Time Changes and Work Injuries, with Gonzalo Castex (UNSW), Evgenia Dechter (UNSW) and Isabel Poblete (Central Bank of Chile)

Broadband Pricing and Quality Innovation in U.S. Urban Areas: Assessing the Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic, with Kenneth Flamm (UT - Austin)

The Effect of Remote Schooling on Child Overweight, Obesity, and Fitness During and After the COVID-19 Pandemic, with Kenneth Flamm (UT - Austin) and Paul Von Hippel (UT - Austin)

Crime and lockdown during the Covid-19 pandemic: Evidence from Chile, with Gonzalo Castex (UNSW) and Nicolás Rivera (Central Bank of Chile)