nep-lam New Economics Papers
on Central and South America
Issue of 2020‒11‒09
four papers chosen by

  1. Law incentives for juvenile recruiting by drug trafficking gangs: empirical evidence from Rio de Janeiro By Daniel Montolio; Cristiano Oliveira
  2. Socio-economic and environmental effects of eco-tourism By Saavedra, S
  3. Does Higher Education Reduce Mortality? Evidence from a Natural Experiment in Chile By Prem, M; Bautista, M. A.; González, F; Martínez, L. R.; Muñoz, P
  4. The Value of Redistribution: Natural Resources and the Formation of Human Capital under Weak Institutions By Jorge M. Agüero; Carlos Felipe Balcázar; Stanislao Maldonado; Hugo Ñopo

  1. By: Daniel Montolio (Universitat de Barcelona & IEB); Cristiano Oliveira (Federal University of Rio Grande)
    Abstract: We evaluate the deterrence effects of the age of criminal responsibility on total drug trafficking and homicide crimes per age, based on a quasi-experiment generated by differences in punishment severity for these crimes prescribed by the Statute of the Child and Adolescent and by the Penal Code in Brazil. To this end, information from arrests conducted by the civil and military police of the state of Rio de Janeiro in 2016 and 2017 is used to estimate the local effects of treatment through a Regression Discontinuity Design. Instead of using recidivism data and/or grouping crimes with distinct punishment severity, we use as outcome variable the total number of arrests (crimes) per age for drug trafficking and homicides, which are the most common crimes related to organized crime in Rio de Janeiro. The results indicate that the increase in punishment severity generated by the Penal Code can reduce the number of drug trafficking-related crimes by 9% and homicides by 37%. Through a simple cost-benefit analysis, we suggest that increasing the punishment severity for minors who commit homicide could reduce juvenile’s engagement in a criminal career associated with gangs and generate gains in social well-being.
    Keywords: Deterrence, Quasi-Experiment, Punishment Severity, Regression Discontinuity Design
    JEL: D9 K4
    Date: 2020
  2. By: Saavedra, S
    Abstract: Eradicating poverty and halting deforestation are two of the Sustainable Development Goals. Eco-tourism is considered a win-win strategy that can increase income and preserve forests. However, there are no well-identified impact evaluations of both variables at the same time. Seventy-six municipalities in Colombia were randomly assigned to either a control group or a treatment group that received ecotourism promotion. I estimate the socio-economic and environmental effects of nine months of treatment using an ANCOVA specification that controls for baseline individual outcomes. In treated municipalities, I find an increase of 30% in the number of tourists and 16% in the number of workers. However, there are no statistically significant effects on business profits, poverty, or household income. At the same time, I do find a reduction of 100% of deforestation alerts around treated eco-tourism sites. These results illustrate the importance of economic opportunities for local communities in order to preserve forests.
    Keywords: Eco-tourism; Poverty; Deforestation; Colombia
    JEL: Q56 Z32
    Date: 2020–10–28
  3. By: Prem, M; Bautista, M. A.; González, F; Martínez, L. R.; Muñoz, P
    Abstract: We exploit the sharp downward kink in college enrollment experienced by cohorts reaching college age after the 1973 military coup in Chile to study the causal effect of higher education on mortality. Using micro-data from the vital statistics for 1994-2017, we document an upward kink in the age-adjusted yearly mortality rate among the affected cohorts. Leveraging the kink in college enrollment, we estimate a negative effect of college on mortality, which is larger for men, but also sizable for women. Intermediate labor market outcomes (e.g., labor force participation) explain 30% of the reduction in mortality. A similar upward kink in mortality over multiple time horizons is also present among hospitalized patients in the affected cohorts, with observable characteristics (i.e. diagnostic, hospital, insurance) explaining over 40%. Survey responses reveal that college substantially improves access to private health care, but has mixed effects on health behaviors.
    Keywords: Mortality; Higher education; Chile; Mortality rate of the university population in Chile; Relationship educational level mortality
    JEL: I12 I14 I26
    Date: 2020–10–26
  4. By: Jorge M. Agüero (University of Connecticut); Carlos Felipe Balcázar (New York University); Stanislao Maldonado (Universidad del Rosario); Hugo Ñopo (Grupo de Analisis de Desarrollo)
    Abstract: We exploit time and spatial variation generated by the commodities boom to measure the effect of natural resources on human capital formation in Peru, a country with low governance indicators. Combining test scores from over two million students and district-level administrative data of mining taxes redistributed to local governments, we find sizable effects on student learning from the redistribution. However, and consistent with recent political economy models, the relationship is non-monotonic. Based on these models, we identify improvements in school expenditure and infrastructure, together with increases in health outcomes of adults and children, as key mechanisms explaining the effect we find for redistribution. Policy implications for the avoidance of the natural resource curse are discussed.
    Keywords: Resource booms, academic achievement, intergovernmental transfers
    JEL: H7 H23 I25 O15 Q32
    Date: 2020–10

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