PhD Candidate, Social Policy
London School of Economics and Political Science
I am an applied microeconomist and my research sits at the intersection of Development, Public and Health Economics. I use applied econometrics and field experiments to understand the principles underlying effective public service delivery.
I am also a Research Officer at the Development Sector of the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS), having held this post since 2017.
I will be joining the School of Economics and Finance at the University of St. Andrews from January 2021 as an Assistant Professor.
Job market paper and work in progress
Can White Elephants Kill?
The Unintended Consequences of Infrastructure Development in Peru
It is widely accepted that investing in large infrastructure promotes economic development. However, there is little awareness of the prevalence of unfinished infrastructure projects and their consequences. This paper studies the effect on early-life mortality of unfinished sewerage infrastructure in Peru. I compile several sources of novel administrative panel data for 1,400 districts spanning 2005-2015. I specifically rely on budgetary plans and timing of expenditure for more than 6,000 projects to measure the number of unfinished projects and those completed in a given district. I exploit geographical features and partisan alignment to instrument for project implementation. I find that mid-construction abandonment and delays are highly prevalent. I document that unfinished sewerage projects increase early-life mortality, driven by lack of water availability, water-borne diseases and accidents. Unfinished projects are not only an inefficient use of public resources, but can pose hazards to the population. Any sound cost-effectiveness analysis should consider not only the private, but the social costs of developing infrastructure.
Runner up for Best JMP - RES Junior Symposium
Improving Infrastructure in Informal Settlements: Experimental Evidence from India
(with A. Armand and B. Augsburg)
We explore the role of supply-side imperfections and information asymmetries in preventing the adoption of shared sanitation infrastructure and influencing the prevalence of unsafe behaviour. We implement a cluster-randomized experiment in 110 slums in Uttar Pradesh, India. Community Toilets (CTs) and their catchment areas are randomly allocated to a supply-side intervention, either on its own or combined with information provision. The supply-side intervention consists on an initial grant to improve quality, followed by a financial reward scheme to incentivize CT caretakers to sustain quality improvements. We collect data from both slum dwellers and CT caretakers’ behaviour using a wide range of methods, including surveys, observational data and behavioural measurements. Specifically, I use lab-in-the-field experiments and incentive-compatible methods to elicit willingness-to-pay (WTP) and community demand.
Sustainability of Sanitation Behaviour: Evidence from rural Pakistan (with B. Augsburg)
Slippage back to unsafe behaviour explains why sanitation interventions may not achieve sustained improvements in public health. We rely on a cluster-randomized experiment in rural Pakistan to evaluate the effectiveness of follow-up visits after a community total-led (CTLs) sanitation campaign. We find that reminders are effective at sustaining safe behavior in areas in which the sanitation infrastructure is prone to becoming obsolete.
Effectiveness of Community Health Teams: Evidence from El Salvador
(with P. Bernal, P. Celhay and S. Martinez)
Access to high-quality preventive health care can deter mortality. Community health teams have emerged as an alternative to deficient formal health care provision in low- and middle-income countries, but the evidence on their effectiveness is inconclusive. Using quasi-experimental techniques and a fine-grain panel dataset of health records, we evaluate the effectiveness of a nation-wide reform in El Salvador that mobilized communities to access preventive healthcare. We find that the reform improved preventive behavior and reduced hospitalizations and deaths caused by diseases amenable to health access and quality.
LSE Teaching Excellence Award 2019