Working Papers

Abstract: Despite recent progress, almost 30% of schools worldwide lack access to safe drinking water. In this paper, I investigate whether efforts to expand water availability at schools translate into human capital gains by exploring the impacts of a large-scale program in Colombia that has installed water treatment facilities on the premises of almost 800 rural schools. I combine information on the timing of the delivery of the facility with several sources of administrative records to estimate the effects of the intervention on student enrollment, test scores, and the incidence of gastrointestinal diseases in the surrounding community. To identify causal effects, I use a difference-in-differences design that leverages variation in the timing of deliveries of water treatment facilities to schools. I find that the introduction of a water treatment facility increases enrollment at the upper secondary level but decreases it at the primary level. I do not find effects on achievement. I argue that the mixed effects on enrollment are reflective of heterogeneous treatment effects across schools with varying degrees of institutional capacity to operate the facility without compromising their normal operations. I also find that the intervention decreased the incidence rate of diarrheal diseases among teenagers but not for the general population.

Abstract: I investigate the effect of local economic conditions on the school choice of students entering high school in Mexico City. Using data from the centralized admission system for public high schools during the years of the Great Recession, I estimate the effect of neighborhood income shocks on students’ choices using a two-way fixed effects model that exploits variation in the severity of the recession in different parts of the city. I find that in times of economic hardship, students adjust their choices among the set of schools they could feasibly be admitted to by ranking higher schools that are less expensive, albeit farther away from home. These effects, however, are small in magnitude and heterogeneous: students in relatively well-off households make choices that are consistent with countercyclical investments in education, while disadvantaged students appear to make choices that are more sensitive to the monetary cost of schooling.

Draft available upon request