Working papers

Judicial Subversion: The Effects of Political Power on Court Outcomes. (with Henrik Sigstad). Submitted. [Latest version: May 2020]

Are politicians in power treated more leniently in court? We show that candidates in Brazilian local elections charged with corruption are 43 percent less likely to be convicted if they narrowly win the election. There are small differences in the lawyers representing winners and losers, the effect is larger for members of powerful parties, and judges convicting mayors are more likely to be promoted by seniority than by merit. This favoritism could lead to an adverse selection of politicians in elected offices: Politicians charged with corruption are more likely to run for election and to become the next mayor.

Slave resistance, cultural transmission, and Brazil’s long-run economic development. [Latest version: February 2020]

I show that ethnic territories connected to slave resistance, called quilombos, have a robust positive relationship with local economic development in Brazil. To understand how quilombos can affect economic activity in the long run, I propose a new mechanism where initial religious beliefs and African iron-working and other high-valued skills are perpetuated in the long run through cultural-religious intergenerational transmission. First, I divide the Brazilian territory in virtual municipality cells of approximately 11 x 11 kilometers, which makes possible an extensive use of fixed effects, and show that cells with more quilombos have more economic activity proxied by nightlights. Second, in order to analyze the mechanisms through which quilombos can affect economic development and improve identification I employ a randomization inference approach with alternative spatial configurations of counterfactual quilombos. I then show that proximity to quilombos is related to more high-skilled and metal-related occupations and a wide array of cultural-religious outcomes, such as higher cultural activities, community trust, and collective action.

Estimating a Behavioral New Keynesian Model. (with Joaquim Andrade and Pedro Cordeiro). [Latest version: December 2019]

This paper analyzes identification issues of a behavorial New Keynesian model and estimates it using likelihood-based and limited-information methods with identification-robust confidence sets. The model presents some of the same difficulties that exist in simple benchmark DSGE models, but the analytical solution is able to indicate in what conditions the cognitive discounting parameter (attention to the future) can be identified and the robust estimation methods is able to confirm its importance for explaining the proposed behavioral model.

Work in progress

Geography, slavery, and income in Brazilian municipalities in the 1870s: A spatial equilibrium approach. (with Eustáquio Reis). Version presented at the RIDGE Workshop on Economic History, Montevideo, 2019.

This paper applies a spatial equilibrium approach to understanding Brazil’s initial heterogeneity of prices, working population, and income across municipalities in the late XIX century. Understanding the spatial equilibrium in the past is important to generate new insights on the development path taken subsequently into the XX century that would show a very unequal spatial development and a high degree of economic backwardness in an otherwise natural resource abundant country with a high land-labor ratio. Preliminary results show that the initial spatial equilibrium when shifted by exogenous geographic variables, such as terrain ruggedness, climate and soil suitability for commodities and staple foods generates perverse results for productivity and welfare that sometimes gets amplified by the factor share of slavery in a municipality.

Who ensures free and fair elections? Judicial bias in Brazilian electoral courts. (with Henrik Sigstad and Moya Chin).

The short-run and long-run effects of the Underground Railroad. (with Felipe Valencia).

From colonial roads and mules to railroads in Brazil. (with Eustáquio Reis and Diego Firmino).

Geographic cross-sectional fiscal multipliers over the business cycle. (with Ursula Mello).

Book chapters

Acesso à terra, escolha ocupacional e o diferencial de produtividade agrícola entre pequenos produtores. 2016. In: J.E.R. Vieira Filho and J.G. Gasques, ed., Agricultura, transformação produtiva e sustentabilidade. Brasília: IPEA.

Policy work

Development without Deforestation. 2014. Policy in Focus. UNDP/International Policy Centre for Inclusive Growth. (Specialist Guest Editor with Carlos Castro). Also in Portuguese.

Innovation and Global to Local Energy Governance. 2013. In: Cadman T., ed., Climate Change and Global Policy Regimes. International Political Economy. London: Palgrave Macmillan. (with Guilherme Gonçalves).