nep-lam New Economics Papers
on Central and South America
Issue of 2018‒10‒01
three papers chosen by

  1. Formal Employment and Organized Crime: Regression Discontinuity Evidence from Colombia By Gaurav Khanna; Carlos Medina; Anant Nyshadham; Jorge Tamayo
  2. No Impact of Rural Development Policies? No Synergies with Conditional Cash Transfers? An Investigation of the IFAD-Supported Gavião Project in Brazil By Steven Helfand; Lorena Viera Costa; André Portela Souza
  3. How Equitable is Access to Opportunities and Basic Services Considering the Impact of the Level of Service?: The Case of Santiago, Chile By Ignacio Tiznado-Aitken; Juan Carlos Muñoz; Ricardo Hurtubia

  1. By: Gaurav Khanna (University of California); Carlos Medina (Banco de la República de Colombia); Anant Nyshadham (Boston College & NBER); Jorge Tamayo (Harvard University)
    Abstract: Canonical models of criminal behavior highlight the importance of economic incentives and employment opportunities in determining crime (Becker, 1968). Yet, there is little causal evidence leveraging individual-level variation in support of these claims. Over a decade, we link administrative micro-data on socio-economic measures with the universe of criminal arrests in Medellin. We test whether increasing the relative costs to formal-sector employment led to more crime. We exploit plausibly exogenous variation in employment around a cutoff in the socio-economic score, below which individuals receive health care if they are not formally employed. Using a regression discontinuity design, we show that the policy had the unintended consequence of inducing a fall in formal-sector employment and a corresponding spike in organized criminal activity. There are no effects on less economically motivated crimes like those of impulse or opportunity. Our results confirm the relationship between formal employment and crime, validating models of criminal activity as a rational economic choice **** RESUMEN: Los modelos canónicos del comportamiento criminal resaltan la importancia de los incentivos económicos y las oportunidades de empleo como determinantes del crimen (Becker, 1968). A pesar de esto, existe poca evidencia causal que soporte estos modelos a nivel de individuos. Nosotros pareamos, a lo largo de una década, información socioeconómica de individuos con el censo de todos los arrestos en Medellín. Nosotros probamos si incrementar el costo relativo del empleo formal conlleva a un incremento del crimen. Se explota una variación exógena en el empleo alrededor de un corte en el puntaje socioeconómico, por debajo del cual los individuos reciben aseguramiento en salud si no están formalmente empleados. Utilizando un diseño de regresión discontinua, mostramos que la política tuvo como consecuencia inducir una reducción en el empleo formal y un correspondiente incremento en la actividad del crimen organizado. No se encuentran efectos en crímenes con una motivación económica menor como aquellos de impulso u oportunidad. Nuestros resultados confirman la relación entre empleo formal y crimen, validando los modelos que explican la actividad criminal como una decisión racional.
    Keywords: Gangs, informality, Medellin, Bandas criminales, informalidad
    JEL: K14 K42
    Date: 2018–09
  2. By: Steven Helfand (Department of Economics, University of California Riverside); Lorena Viera Costa (Federal University of Viçosa); André Portela Souza (Getulio Vargas Foundation, São Paulo)
    Abstract: Public policies frequently are implemented simultaneously rather than in isolation. We estimate the impacts–and possible synergies–of a rural development project (Pro-Gavião) and the Brazilian conditional cash transfer program (Bolsa Família). In partnership with the State Government of Bahia, Pro-Gavião was an IFAD-supported rural development project in 13 contiguous municipalities between 1997 and 2005. Census tract level data were extracted for the analysis from the 1995-96 and 2006 Agricultural Censuses. The evaluation uses propensity score matching to construct a control group of untreated census tracts, and a difference-in-differences estimation to identify impacts. The outcomes analyzed include land productivity, agricultural income and child labor. Although Pro-Gavião involved significant investments in the region, the results suggest little if any program impact, or synergies between the two programs. The unexpected null findings are robust to alternative approaches to identifying the treated census tracts, matching techniques, and heterogeneity of impacts by initial level of poverty. We show that the lack of impacts is not driven by adverse rainfall in the treated communities, or the influence of other programs in the control communities. Alternative explanations for the null results are explored.
    Keywords: Rural development projects, Conditional Cash Transfers, IFAD, Synergies, Brazil
    JEL: O13 Q1
    Date: 2018–09
  3. By: Ignacio Tiznado-Aitken; Juan Carlos Muñoz; Ricardo Hurtubia
    Abstract: Cities face the daily challenge of providing people with access to different activities through their public transport systems. Despite its importance, there is little research on accessibility that focuses on the use of this mode and even less accounting for the impact of level of service (i.e. travel time, waiting time, reliability, comfort and transfers). Thus, the aim of this paper is to propose a methodology to determine how access to opportunities and basic services through public transport systems is distributed in cities, and how the perceived level of service decreases or accentuates the existing gaps. Three indicators are calculated for Santiago based on data from public transport operations, smart card validations and georeferenced information: walking accessibility to public transport stops considering the quality of urban furniture, safety and environment; connectivity provided by the system in each area to the rest of the city considering the level of service through a measure of generalised time (in-vehicle time); and a measure of attractiveness of the destinations, based on number of trips attracted by purpose. The methodology is applied to a case study in Santiago, a highly unequal and segregated city. The results show that the accessibility gap between disadvantaged areas and more wealthy neighborhoods of the city increases if the user's perception of level of service for public transport is considered. We show that the three proposed indicators provide different dimensions of accessibility suggesting how and where to intervene to effectively improve equity. Thus, the indicators could be used to assist the prioritisation and focus of investment plans, the design process of urban policies or transport infrastructure and become a key input for planners and decision-makers.
    Date: 2016–10–13

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