nep-lam New Economics Papers
on Central and South America
Issue of 2019‒12‒09
five papers chosen by

  1. Air Quality Warnings and Temporary Driving Bans: Evidence from Air Pollution, Car Trips, and Mass-Transit Ridership in Santiago By Nathaly Rivera
  2. A laptop for every child? The impact of ICT on educational outcomes. By Hall, Caroline; Lundin, Martin; Sibbmark, Kristina
  3. Myths of multipolarity: the sources of Brazilian overexpansion By Schenoni, Luis L.; Belém Lopes, Dawisson; Casarões, Guilherme
  4. Unveiling Drivers of Deforestation: Evidence from the Brazilian Amazon By Kuschnig, Nikolas; Crespo Cuaresma, Jesus; Krisztin, Tamás
  5. Do Minimum Wages Reduce Employment in Developing Countries? A Survey and Exploration of Conflicting Evidence By David Neumark; Luis Felipe Munguia Corella

  1. By: Nathaly Rivera (University of Alaska Anchorage)
    Abstract: Driving restrictions are a common governmental strategy to reduce airborne pollution and traffic congestion in many cities of the world. Using high-frequency data on air pollution, car trips, and mass-transit systems ridership, I evaluate the effectiveness of temporary driving bans triggered by air quality warnings in Santiago, Chile. I employ a fuzzy regression discontinuity design that uses the thresholds in the air quality index used to announce these warnings as instruments for their announcement. Results show that these temporary bans reduce car trips by 6-9% during peak hours, and by 7-8% during off-peak hours. This is consistent with air pollution reductions during peak hours, and with increases in the use of Santiago's mass-transit systems during hours the systems run with excess capacity. Increments in mass-transit ridership uncover the importance of alternatives modes of transportation in securing the effectiveness of temporary driving bans.
    Keywords: Air Pollution, Pollution Alerts, Environmental Episodes, Driving Restrictions, Latin America
    JEL: Q52 Q53 R41
    Date: 2019–11
  2. By: Hall, Caroline (IFAU - Institute for Evaluation of Labour Market and Education Policy); Lundin, Martin (IFAU - Institute for Evaluation of Labour Market and Education Policy); Sibbmark, Kristina (IFAU - Institute for Evaluation of Labour Market and Education Policy)
    Abstract: Classrooms all over the world are becoming increasingly technologically advanced. Many schools today provide a personal laptop or tablet to each pupil for use both in the classroom and at home. The intent of these 1:1 programs is that information and communication technology (ICT) should be extensively involved in the teaching of all subjects. We investigate how pupils who are given a personal laptop or tablet, rather than having more limited computer access, are affected in terms of educational performance. By surveying schools in 26 Swedish municipalities regarding the implementation of 1:1 programs and combining this information with administrative data, we estimate the impact on educational outcomes using a difference-in-differences design. We find no significant impact on standardized tests in mathematics or language on average, nor do we find an impact on the probability of being admitted to upper secondary school or the students’ choice of educational track. However, our results indicate that 1:1 initiatives may increase inequality in education by worsening math skills and decreasing enrollment in college-preparatory programs in upper secondary school among students with lower educated parents.
    Keywords: technology; computers; one-to-one; student performance
    JEL: I21
    Date: 2019–11–06
  3. By: Schenoni, Luis L.; Belém Lopes, Dawisson; Casarões, Guilherme
    Abstract: We provide a framework to analyze the foreign policy overexpansion of so-called emerging powers during the early 21st century. To do so, we look at the Brazilian case and how domestic actors colluded to foster the myth of an impending multipolarity, which served as the ideological basis for an unsustainable surge in that state’s international ambition. After reviewing the literature that analyzes the phenomenon of overexpansion in world politics, we proceed in four steps. First, we describe the evolution of the “multipolarity myth” in elite discourse and public opinion polls. Second, we trace how specific interest groups logrolled to foster and capitalize on the myth. Third, we document the increase of the diplomatic budget, Presidential trips abroad, state-backed investments overseas, participation in UN peace operations, and other indicators of expansion. Fourth, we use the synthetic control method, a statistical technique, to infer the extent of overexpansion by comparing Brazil with a plausible counterfactual – i.e. a weighted basket of countries with similar characteristics, yet unaffected by the myth. Although our focus is on Brazil, this framework might help understand other unsuccessful emerging powers who have recently experienced similar overexpansion crises.
    Keywords: Brazil; BRICS; overexpansion; multipolarity; myth
    JEL: N0
    Date: 2019–01–01
  4. By: Kuschnig, Nikolas; Crespo Cuaresma, Jesus; Krisztin, Tamás
    Abstract: The drivers of deforestation are the subject of many spatially explicit studies with considerable policy impact, yet few studies account for spatial dependence, thus neglecting spillover effects. In this work, we use high-resolution remotely sensed land cover change maps, extended with socioeconomic panel data for 141 municipalities in the state of Mato Grosso, Brazil, to investigate the role of agriculture in deforestation from 2006 until 2016. Our econometric model specifically accounts for spatial indirect effects from the dependent and explanatory variables, thus avoiding biased and inconsistent estimates. We identify indirect spillover effects from croplands and direct effects from cattle as significant deforestation drivers. Neglecting to explicitly account for spatial dependence considerably underestimates deforestation pressure of soy production. We conclude that spatial dynamics play a crucial role in deforestation and need to be considered in econometric studies, in order to facilitate informed policy decisions.
    Keywords: Deforestation, spillover effects, spatial econometrics, agriculture, soybean, land use change
    Date: 2019
  5. By: David Neumark; Luis Felipe Munguia Corella
    Abstract: Evidence from studies of the employment effects of minimum wages in developing countries is mixed. One interpretation is that there is simply no clear evidence of disemployment effects in developing countries. Instead, however, we find evidence that the heterogeneity is systematic, with estimated effects more consistently negative when institutional factors or the competitive model predict more negative effects – for vulnerable workers, in the formal sector, and when minimum wage laws are strong and binding. That is, the evidence points to negative employment effects of minimum wages in developing countries when more features of estimates predict negative employment effects.
    JEL: J18 J23 O15
    Date: 2019–11

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