Publications

Judicial Subversion: The Effects of Political Power on Court Outcomes. Journal of Public Economics, 217 (2023). (with Henrik Sigstad).

Are politicians in power treated more leniently in court? We show that Brazilian mayoral candidates charged with misconduct are 65 percent less likely to be convicted if they narrowly win the election. Politicians play no direct role in the judges’ careers, suggesting that formal independence does not completely insulate the judiciary from political influence. The effect is driven by districts with few judges and by judges with higher career instability.

Education for Control and Liberation in Africa and Among the Black Diaspora. Comparative Education Review, forthcoming. (with Dozie Okoye, Shourya Sen, and Leonard Wantchekon). [New accepted version]

We review research on the history of education policy in colonial sub-Saharan Africa and among the African diaspora in the US and Brazil through a political economy lens. While the supply of education has been severely constricted in all of these cases, demand for education has been strong. Thus, even as authoritarian states have attempted to restrict educational supply as a means for social control, the strength of the demand—and the pedagogical, organizational, and political innovations that accompanied this demand—illustrate the power of education to empower marginalized communities.

Working papers

Slave resistance, cultural transmission, and Brazil’s long-run economic development. [New version coming soon]

I show that ethnic territories connected to slave resistance, called quilombos, have a robust positive relationship with local economic development in Brazil. Based on the history of the quilombos, I propose a 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, 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

Living Standards in Brazil: Bahia, 1574-1920. (with Nuno Palma). [WP coming soon]

Old But Gold. (with Diogo Baerlocher, Diego Firmino, Eustáquio Reis, and Henrique Veras).

Judicial Connections. (with Diogo Britto, Breno Sampaio, Henrik Sigstad, and Alexandre Fonseca).

Intergenerational impacts of the Benin returnees following the Bahia slave rebellion of 1835. (with Leonard Wantchekon).

Judicialization of Politics: Evidence from Brazilian local elections. (with Moya Chin and Henrik Sigstad).

Geography, slavery, and income: A spatial equilibrium approach. (with Eustáquio Reis).

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.