Working Papers

Does placing monetary resources directly in the hands of mothers improve their bargaining position within the household? We explore the extent to which gender-targeted benefits can be used as policy levers to increase women's decision-making power, individual welfare and household investments in children. To address this question, we develop and estimate a collective household model with home production using a structural approach. We use the exogenous variation induced by Oportunidades on observed household behavior to identify and estimate the Pareto weight which allows us to compute individual welfare money metric indices. Within this approach, we evaluate the impact of increasing women's control of non-labor income on the balance of decision-making power and individual welfare within two-parent households. We find that participation in Oportunidades increased mothers' bargaining power by almost 24%, associated with a 20% increase in their individual welfare, and with a 25% increase in the domestic production of a child-related public good. The counterfactual exercises implemented yield two policy-relevant takeaways. First, the Oportunidades program is as effective as alternative cash transfer programs and significantly more effective than wage subsidies at increasing mothers' bargaining power, individual welfare and domestic output. Second, individual-level poverty rates computed using the money metric welfare index here proposed can help improve the program's targeting strategy by accounting for the unequal sharing of resources within households.

This paper quantifies the impact of Mexico's Oportunidades on the allocation of time within poor urban households. The empirical strategy implemented exploits the availability of detailed individual time use data and the exogenous variation induced by the program on households' resource constraints and on mothers' control over monetary resources in their role as transfer holders. The results are asymmetric between mothers and fathers within two-parent households as participation in Oportunidades increased mothers' leisure weekly hours through a reduction in their time devoted to housework contrasting with the slight fall in fathers' leisure hours due to an increase in the time they devote to child care. Upon ruling out an income effect based on a contrasting response documented among single mothers and assuming that leisure is a normal good, the observed effect of the program on the allocation of time within two-parent households provides suggestive evidence of an empowerment effect in favor of mothers. Thus, by focusing on intrahousehold behavior, the analysis carried out in this paper provides supporting evidence of the extent to which gender-targeted programs effectively alter existing patterns of intrahousehold gender inequality.

Forthcoming at the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis Review

This paper investigates the socio-demographic differences in household responses to the COVID-19 pandemic regarding employment and consumption. We find that the significant racial disparities documented initially in terms of employment during the pandemic can be explained, in part, by differences in household income and composition, respondents' education, and occupational sorting. Nonetheless, we document pervasive racial, income, and educational gradients when focusing on household food insecurity and individuals' reliance on social insurance programs and other government assistance during the pandemic. Overall, our results highlight that the disparities observed for household income and respondents' education tend to be the most significant and most pervasive following the onset of the COVID-19 crisis.

Forthcoming at the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis Review

This paper investigates the existence of socio-demographic gradients in the schooling shocks experienced by school-aged children and their ability to adjust to the disruptions induced by the containment measures imposed in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. It focuses on documenting racial, educational, and income disparities in these two essential components of children's human capital accumulation that could have significant implications in the medium and long run. The paper finds that children in households from disadvantaged socio-demographic groups (1) were significantly more likely to face severe education disruptions in the form of school cancellations at the onset of the pandemic, (2) had more limited access to active learning resources such as computers, and (3) relied more heavily on schools to obtain access to these resources. Notably, these adverse effects severely disrupted children's 2019-20 academic year but were mitigated at the start of the 2020-21 academic year.

Work in Progress

  • Divorce Law Reforms, Matrimonial Regimes and Family Behavior (with George-Levi Gayle and Andrew Shephard)

  • Quantifying the Long-Term and Intergenerational Effects of Conditional Cash Transfers (with Minsung Park)

  • Inequality and Intergenerational Mobility: The Disparate Impact of COVID-19 in the Presence of Informality (with Mariana Odio-Zuniga)

  • Parental Time Investment and Intergenerational Mobility: The Role of Paid Parental Leave on Child Development in Germany (with Alexander Monge-Naranjo and Mariana Odio-Zuniga)

Other Work Completed (in Spanish)

Pobreza, Genero y Diferencias en la Participacion y Ocupacion en el Sector Informal en Mexico, with Juan Argaez, Cuadernos de Economia, 39(79) 279-301. January 2020.