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I am a development economist. I work as an assistant professor at the Marshall School of Business of USC. I am also a IZA research fellow, a CEGA faculty affiliate, a faculty member of the Schaeffer Center for Health and Economics Policy, and a research fellow at the Center for Economic and Social Research at USC. I hold a PhD and MA from UCLA, and a BA and MA from Universidad de los Andes.
My recent work is predominantly concentrated in exploring the effects of forced migration within hosting economies and of the role of public policies in supporting these migrants and their hosting communities. My recent work can be grouped in three topics:
- Economic and Political Impacts of Forced Migration: My contribution to this area of knowledge has been focused on identifying the effects of forced migration in political and economic structures within developing countries while unveiling the overlying mechanisms behind those effects. The overall conclusions of my research papers in this area suggest that the economic and political effects of forced migration are largely dependent on the regulations implemented by hosting governments to facilitate or prevent migrant’s integration. In fact, higher regulations that for example, discriminate public policies between vulnerable populations and migrants, often times prove to increase resentment towards migrants and xenophobia from locals. Additionally, political messages have a strong influence in the perception and prejudices that locals have towards migrants. As such, migrant’s integration should be coupled with programs that facilitate social cohesion.
- Humanitarian Interventions Effectiveness: My work in this area has shifted from using observational data on forced migration inflows to directly collecting the data on refugee’s decisions. This area of my research comprises the construction of two large longitudinal representative life surveys of refugee populations in Jordan and Colombia. To the best of my knowledge, these surveys, are some of the first attempts to collect longitudinal data for forced migrants in the world. The overall objective of these projects is to use each wave of surveys to evaluate the effectiveness of specific humanitarian interventions in the presence of specific public policy contexts. These surveys also offer a unique opportunity to study how migrants make decision and what are the consequences of diverse public policy programs on their life outcomes. For example, we will be able to evaluate the impacts that living in a refugee camp versus living in a local community can have on refugee integration and work prospects.
- Social Cohesion: Large migration flows seem to increase xenophobia and reduce in prosocial behaviors. Governments are aware of these effects, and as such, increasing political will to support refugees goes hand-in-hand with finding ways to improve attitudes towards migrants. Recently, I have embarked in finding answers to two research questions. The first one is what are the individual characteristics and policy contexts which prompt stronger reactions to migration inflows. The second question aims at assessing the effectiveness of interventions to improve attitudes towards migrants.
I also have ongoing work studying how firms’ decisions change with economic and political shocks and examining the consequences of violence and conflict in Latin America.
- Forced Migration