Research

Peer-Reviewed Publications:
  • 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]
  • 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]
Working Papers: 

Air Quality Warnings and Temporary Driving Bans: Evidence from Air Pollution, Car Trips, and Mass-Transit Ridership in Santiago (R&R, JEEM)[Paper]

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.

The Coal-to-Gas Fuel Switching and its Effects on Housing Prices (with Scott Loveridge) (Revision Requested at Energy Economics) [Latest Version]

We derive causal property value impacts of the coal-to-gas fuel switching conversion implemented by several power plants in the United States. We use an extensive dataset of property transactions around the country and adopt several spatial difference-in-difference approaches that use records of residential property transactions of homes with wind exposure and proximity to the switching plants before and after the switch. A triple-differences control function estimator using coal-fired plants that did not innovate strengthens these estimations. Our results indicate that the shutdown of coal-fired generators increases property values of downwind homes by 15% in the immediate vicinity of fuel-switching plants (< 1.2mi), which brings to light the strong disamenity effect of coal-fired power plants. Our back-of-the-envelope calculations suggest that the fuel switching led to a $1.78 billion-increase in property values around the country.

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]

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. Examining data on daily variation in generation, 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.

Oil, Politics, and “Corrupt Bastards” (with Alexander James) (Under Review) [Latest Version]

Does oil corrupt? We test this theory using forty years of U.S. state-level data mea- suring corruption as both convictions of corruption and the frequency that words like “corrupt,” “fraud,” and “bribe”— and their iterations—appear in newspapers. We find that oil-rich U.S. states experience more corruption than their oil-poor counter- parts, particularly during periods of high oil prices, suggesting a causal relationship. Exploring mechanisms, we show that oil wealth depresses demand for government accountability (measured as the prevalence of local newspapers) and increases state and local campaign contributions from energy and natural resource industries. Implications are discussed.

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

Does resource extraction crowd out postsecondary educational investments? We shed light on this question by exploring high-level education enrollment and completion decisions among the universe of high-school seniors who graduated between 2004 and 2018 in Chile. For identification, we rely on the exogenous variation that comes from annual copper prices together with the spatial distribution of mineral deposits scattered throughout the country. We find that mineral extraction reduces students’ likelihood of enrolling in and acquiring a postsecondary education, especially a 4-year professional degree program. Lower returns to high-level education and fewer inputs available to primary and secondary schools of resource-rich areas seem to be driving these results. Our analysis suggests that natural resources may severely affect human capital accumulation in resource-rich places, resulting in detrimental long-term consequences for economic development.

Work in Progress:

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

Pre-Doctoral Work (in Spanish):
  • 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