nep-lam New Economics Papers
on Central and South America
Issue of 2013‒03‒02
five papers chosen by
Maximo Rossi
University of the Republic

  1. Effectiveness and Spillovers of Online Sex Education: Evidence from a Randomized Evaluation in Colombian Public Schools By Alberto Chong; Marco Gonzalez-Navarro; Dean Karlan; Martin Valdivia
  2. Young Democracies and Government Size: Evidence from South America By Manoel Bittencourt
  3. Unsubsidized Microfinance Institutions By Bert D'Espallier; Marek Hudon; Ariane Szafarz
  4. Using administrative data to evaluate municipal reforms : an evaluation of the impact of Minas Facil Expresso By Bruhn, Miriam; McKenzie, David
  5. Sunlight Disinfects? Free Media in Weak Democracies By Leopoldo Fergusson; Juan F. Vargas; Mauricio A. Vela

  1. By: Alberto Chong; Marco Gonzalez-Navarro; Dean Karlan; Martin Valdivia
    Abstract: Sexual health problems cause negative externalities from contagious diseases and public expenditure burdens from teenage pregnancies. In a randomized evaluation, we find that an online sexual-health education course in Colombia leads to significant impacts on knowledge and attitudes and, for those already sexually active, fewer STIs. To go beyond self-reported measures, we provide condom vouchers six months after the course, and find a 9 percentage point increase in redemption. We find no evidence of spillovers to untreated classrooms, but we do observe a social reinforcement effect: the impact intensifies when a larger fraction of a student’s friends is also treated.
    JEL: I1 I2 O12
    Date: 2013–02
    URL: http://d.repec.org/n?u=RePEc:nbr:nberwo:18776&r=lam
  2. By: Manoel Bittencourt
    Abstract: We investigate in this paper the hypothesis that when democracies are young, or still fragile and unconsolidated, the size of government tends to increase, predictably in an attempt of redistribution, or to buy out the electorate, so that democracy becomes acceptable and "the only game in town". For that we use a sample of all nine South American young democracies during the period between 1970 and 2007. The results, based on dynamic panel data analysis, suggest that the young democracies of South America have been indeed associated with bigger governments. Furthermore, we test for the hypothesis that the outgoing dictatorships of the day engaged in activities which would bequest the young democracies with big bills to be repaid at the initial stages of those new democratic regimes. This hypothesis is not con.rmed by the analysis conducted here. Finally, there is evidence that, as those democracies mature over the long run, the size of governments tends to decrease, or to return to a sort of long-run steady state. All in all, in times of a new wave of democratisation being experienced by some countries, the evidence presented here is rather informative of what to expect in terms of government size during political transitions.
    Keywords: Democracy, government, South America
    JEL: H11 N16 O11 O54
    Date: 2013
    URL: http://d.repec.org/n?u=RePEc:rza:wpaper:329&r=lam
  3. By: Bert D'Espallier; Marek Hudon; Ariane Szafarz
    Abstract: This paper starts from the observation that 23% of the world’s microfinance institutions (MFIs) manage without subsidies. We examine how unsubsidized institutions cope with their social mission. Overall, the lack of subsidies worsens social performances. However, our results show that strategies to achieve financial self-sufficiency differ substantially across regions. African and Asian MFIs compensate for non-subsidization by charging higher interest rates. In Eastern Europe and Central Asia, unsubsidized MFIs find it more suitable to target less poor clients. Unsubsidized Latin American MFIs tend to reduce their share of female borrowers.
    Keywords: microfinance; subsidies; mission drift; poverty reduction; average loan size; interest rates
    JEL: F35 G21 G28 O54 O57
    Date: 2013–02–14
    URL: http://d.repec.org/n?u=RePEc:sol:wpaper:2013/140728&r=lam
  4. By: Bruhn, Miriam; McKenzie, David
    Abstract: Efforts to make it easier for firms to register formally are the most common form of business regulatory reform over the past decade. While there is evidence that large reforms have resulted in some increases in registration rates, recent experimental evidence suggests very few informal firms choose to register when given information about how to do so. This raises the question of whether it is productive for governments to continue to extend simplification efforts to all firms, especially those in more remote areas where many of the benefits of registering may be reduced. This study uses administrative data to evaluate the impact of Minas Facil Expresso, a program in the state of Minas Gerais, Brazil, which attempted to expand a business start-up simplification program to more remote municipalities. Using difference-in-differences with 56 months of registration data for 822 municipalities, the analysis finds introducing these units actually led to a reduction in registration rates, and no change in tax revenues. The paper uses this evaluation to illustrate the design choices and issues involved in using administrative data to evaluate reforms, with the goal of also providing a template that can be used for evaluating similar reforms elsewhere.
    Keywords: Corporate Law,Urban Governance and Management,Regional Governance,Municipal Financial Management,Municipal Management and Reform
    Date: 2013–02–01
    URL: http://d.repec.org/n?u=RePEc:wbk:wbrwps:6368&r=lam
  5. By: Leopoldo Fergusson; Juan F. Vargas; Mauricio A. Vela
    Abstract: Free media may not favor political accountability when other democratic institutions are weak, and may even bring undesirable unintended consequences. We propose a simple model in which politicians running for office may engage in coercion to obtain votes. A media scandal that exposes these candidates increases their coercion effort to offset the negative popularity shock. This may result in the tainted politicians actually increasing their vote share. We provide empirical evidence from one recent episode in the political history of Colombia, the ‘parapolitics' scandal featuring politicians colluding with illegal armed paramilitary groups to obtain votes. We show that colluding candidates not only get more votes than their clean competitors, but also concentrate them in areas where coercion is more likely (namely, areas with more paramilitary presence, less state presence, and more judicial inefficiency). Harder to reconcile with other explanations and as a direct test of the effects of media exposure, we compare tainted candidates exposed before elections to those exposed after. We find that those exposed before elections get as many votes as those exposed once elected, but their electoral support is more strongly concentrated in places where coercion is more likely. Our results highlight the complementarity between different dimensions of democratic institutions.
    Date: 2013–02–24
    URL: http://d.repec.org/n?u=RePEc:col:000089:010487&r=lam

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