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

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.

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.

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

Welfare and real wages in Bahia, 1574-1920. (with Nuno Palma).

Historical Pathways and the Persistent Geography of Economic Activity. (with Diogo Baerlocher, Diego Firmino, Eustáquio Reis, and Henrique Veras).

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

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.