Research

Peer-Reviewed Publications:
  • Oil, Politics, and “Corrupt Bastards” (with Alex James). Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Forthcoming [Latest Version]
  • Coal-to-Gas Fuel Switching and its Effects on Housing Prices (with Scott Loveridge). Energy Economics, Forthcoming [Latest Version]
  • Air Quality Warnings and Temporary Driving Bans: Evidence from Air Pollution, Car Trips, and Mass-Transit Ridership in Santiago. Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, 2021. [View]
  • Is Mining and Environmental Disamenity? Evidence from Resource Extraction Site Openings. Environmental and Resource Economics, 2020. [View]
  • Spatial Aggregation Bias in Implicit Prices of Environmental Amenities. Economics Bulletin, 2019. [View]
  • Mineral Taxes and the Local Public Goods Provision in Mining Communities (with Dusan Paredes). Resources Policy, 2017. [View]
Working Papers: 

The Health Benefits of Solar Power Generation: Evidence from Chile (with Beia Spiller and Cristobal Ruiz-Tagle). Environmental Defense Fund Economics Discussion Paper Series, EDF EDP 21-02 [Link][Blog Post][Latest Version] (Under Review)

Renewable energy can yield social benefits through local air quality improvements and their subsequent effects on human health. We estimate some of these benefits using data gathered during the rapid adoption of large-scale solar power generation in Chile over the last decade. Relying on exogenous variation from incremental solar generation capacity over time, we find that solar energy displaces fossil fuel generation (primarily coal-fired generation) and curtails hospital admissions, particularly those due to lower respiratory diseases. These effects are noted mostly in cities downwind of displaced fossil fuel generation and are present across all age groups. Our results document the existence of an additional channel through which renewable energy can increase social welfare.

Association Between Long-Term Air Pollution Exposure and COVID-19 Mortality in Latin America (with Jorge Bonilla, Alejandro Lopez-Feldman, Paula Pereda, and Cristobal Ruiz-Tagle) [Latest Version] (Under Review)

Ambient air pollution is a major problem in many countries of the developing world. This study examines the relationship between long-term exposure to air pollution and COVID-19-related deaths in four countries of Latin America that have been highly affected by the pandemic: Brazil, Chile, Colombia, and Mexico. Relying on historical satellite-based measures of fine particulate matter concentrations and official vital statistics, our results suggest that an increase in long-term exposure of 1 µg/m3 of fine particles is associated with a 2.7 percent increase in the COVID-19 mortality rate. This relationship is found primarily in municipalities of metropolitan areas, where urban air pollution sources dominate, and air quality guidelines are usually exceeded. Our findings support the call for strengthening environmental policies that improve air quality in the region, as well as allocating more health care capacity and resources to those areas most affected by air pollution.

Digging Deep: Resource Exploitation and High-Level Education (with Lenin Balza and Camilo de los Rios) [LACEA Slides] [New version coming soon]

Do resource extraction booms crowd out investment in postsecondary education? We explore this question by examining the higher education-related decisions of Chilean high school seniors during the 2000s commodities boom. For identification, we rely on exogenous variation drawn from copper prices, along with the pretreatment spatial distribution of mineral leases throughout the country. We find that mining booms do not affect students’ likelihood of enrolling in postsecondary education, but they delay enrollment. More important, there is a significant effect on the likelihood of dropping out of college, and especially of leaving a four-year professional degree program. An examination of potential mechanisms reveals that lower returns to higher education and fewer inputs available to primary and secondary schools in resource-rich areas seem to be driving the results. Our findings constitute strong evidence that natural resources may severely affect human capital accumulation in resource-rich areas, with detrimental long-term consequences for economic development and growth.

Work in Progress:

Blasting Dust: The Impact of Chile’s Copper Mining on Local Pollution and Health (with Lenin Balza, Camilo de los Rios, Nicolás Gomez and Gustavo Ahumada)

Renewables, Pollution Avoided, and Infant Health (with Beia Spiller)

Water Scarcity, Fossil Fuels, and the Electricity Generation Mix: The Pollution and Health Impact of Droughts in Brazil (with Danae Hernández-Cortés)

Economic Shocks, Voter Turnout, and Regional Migration (with Alexander James)

Environmental Enforcement in the Aftermath of Major Environmental Disasters (with Lenin Balza)

Pre-Dissertation Work:
  • Peer-Reviewed Publications:
    • Disaggregation of Sectors in Social Accounting Matrices Using a Customized Wolsky Method: A Comment on its Estimation Bias. Applied Economics Letters, 2016. [View]
    • Scales of Production and Mining Economies: The Case of Chile in its Regional Dimension (with Patricio Aroca) (In Spanish). EURE, 2014. [View][Media Coverage]
  • Chapters in Books:
    • Project Analysis and the Regional Dimension (with P. Aroca), in Evaluación Social de Proyectos: Orientaciones para su Aplicación. Aguilera, R. (Editor). Facultad de Ciencias Sociales, Universidad de la República, Uruguay. 2011.
    • Copper Mining in the Antofagasta Region (with P. Aroca), in Región de Antofagasta, Pasado, Presente y Futuro. Llagostera, A. (Editor). Ediciones Universitarias, Universidad Católica del Norte, Chile. 2010.
    • Water Resources in a Dry Area (with M. Lufin and M. Hasewaga), in Región de Antofagasta, Pasado, Presente y Futuro. Llagostera, A. (Editor). Ediciones Universitarias, Universidad Católica del Norte, Chile. 2010.
    • La Experiencia del Instituto de Economía Aplicada Regional (IDEAR) de la Universidad Católica del Norte (with E. López), in Centros de pensamiento estratégico territorial: Instrumentos de la gobernanza regional en Chile, Vergara, P. (Editor). Subsecretaría de Desarrollo Regional y Administrativo, Chile. 2010.
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CU Environmental and Resource Economics Workshop. Colorado, 2017 – Photo Credits: Sarah Jacobson