Research

Peer-Reviewed Publications:

  • Coal-to-Gas Fuel Switching and its Effects on Housing Prices (with Scott Loveridge). Energy Economics, 2022 [View]
  • Oil, Politics, and “Corrupt Bastards” (with Alex James). Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, 2022 [View]
  • 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]

Pre-Dissertation Work:

  • 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: 

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][EDF Blog Post][Foco Económico][Latest Version][Submitted]

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 the most vulnerable age groups.

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) [EfD Blog Post][Latest Version Available Upon Request][Revisions Requested]

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) [Link][In Preparation for Submission]

Do resource-extraction booms crowd out postsecondary education? We explore this question by examining the higher education-related decisions of Chilean high school graduates during the 2000s commodities boom. We find mineral extraction increases a person’s likelihood of enrolling in postsecondary technical education while reducing the likelihood of completing a four-year professional degree program. Importantly, effects are heterogeneous across economic backgrounds. The impact on college dropouts is primarily present among students that graduated from public high schools, which generally cater to low-income groups. Our findings show that natural resources may affect human capital accumulation differently across income groups in resource-rich economies.

Blasting Dust: The Impact of Chile’s Copper Mining on Local Pollution and Health (with Gustavo Ahumada, Lenin Balza and Nicolás Gomez) [New version coming soon]

We explore the pollution-health channel of the large-scale industrial mining expansion in Chile. We measure expansion relying on exogenous variation in copper prices and the size of their mineral leases. Using a battery of estimations in double differences, we show the large negative impact of this expansion on harmful concentrations of a set of satellite-derived pollution levels and human health. These negative effects are ameliorated with an increase in household income and health expenditures, although partially. Results have important implications for the debate on the local welfare impact of mining developments

Cash Transfers and Voter Turnout (with Alexander James and Brock Smith) [New version coming soon][In Preparation for Submission]

Poverty has emerged as a key barrier to voter participation. While cash transfers have been proposed as a possible remedy, little is known about how they influence a person’s decision to vote. We shed light on this question by leveraging a large-scale natural experiment, the Alaska Permanent Fund Dividend (PFD) program, which has provided all eligible Alaskan residents with a check of varying size roughly one month before election day since 1982. We find that cash transfers cause people to vote, especially in gubernatorial elections in which a 10% increase in cash transfer causes a 1.4 percentage-point increase in turnout. Survey data suggests effects are concentrated among the young and poor. There is little evidence that transfers reduce logistical costs of voting, but rather operate by reducing voter apathy among the low-income electorate. Considered jointly, our results suggest that cash transfers are effective at raising voter turnout in the United States.

Work in Progress:

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

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

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

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