Working Papers

Can online experiences that illustrate the life of vulnerable populations improve prosocial behaviors and prejudice by improving perspective-taking and empathy? We randomly assign 850 individuals to: i) an online game that immerses individuals in the life decisions of forced migrants and ii) a documentary of the migration process of forced migrants. Both treatments effectively improve altruism and prejudice towards migrants. Although, only the game improves trust towards migrants, the impacts of both treatments are not statistically different in any of the outcomes that we examine. We also document that the effects of the game are mainly driven by changes on perspective-taking.
How are perceptions about immigration affected in times of economic crisis? Individuals could show more solidarity towards migrants as they all face a common crisis, but it is also possible that prejudice against migrants increases due to the scarcity of economic opportunities. We conduct an online survey of 4,100 Colombian citizens and randomly allocate half of them to a treatment that reminds them of the severity of the COVID-19 crisis before eliciting their perceptions about Venezuelan migrants. We find that COVID-19 priming induces more negative perceptions about immigrants. Individuals in the treatment group in their impressionable years (ages 18 to 25), however, show more altruism and positive attitudes towards migrants relative to the control group. Our results suggest that support for immigration may be substantially reduced in times of economic crises but that the effect is not uniform across different generations.
We examine the role of Venezuelan forced migration on the propagation of 15 infectious diseases in Colombia. For this purpose, we use rich municipal-monthly panel data. We exploit the fact that municipalities closer to the main migration entry points have a disproportionate exposure to infected migrants when the cumulative migration flows increase. We find that higher refugee inflows are associated with increments in the incidence of vaccine-preventable diseases, such as chickenpox and tuberculosis, as well as sexually transmitted diseases, including AIDS and syphilis. However, we find no significant effects of migration on the propagation of vector-borne diseases. READ MORE >>
How can the regularization of approximately half a million migrant's impact crime reports in hosting areas? To identify the effects of this large amnesty, we match confidential administrative data on the location of undocumented migrants with department-monthly data from crime reports and compare crime outcomes in departments that were granted different average time windows to register for the amnesty online, before and after the amnesty roll-out. We document that the regularization caused a reduction of domestic crime and an increment on sexual crime reports. Both results are in line with qualitative evidence suggesting that the regularization empowered migrants to report crimes against them and also improved their mental health. READ MORE >>
Can repatriation inflows impact firm behavior in origin countries? This paper examines this question in the context of repatriation inflows from the United States and Mexico to El Salvador. The paper combines a rich longitudinal data set covering all formal firms in El Salvador with individual-level data on all registered repatriations from 2010 to 2017. The empirical strategy combines variation in the municipality of birth of individuals repatriated over 1995–2002—before a significant change in deportation policies—with annual variation in aggregate inflows of repatriations to El Salvador. The findings show that repatriations have large negative effects on the average wages of formal workers. This is mainly driven by formal firms in sectors that face more intense competition from the informal sector, which deportees are more likely to join. Repatriation inflows also reduce total employment among formal firms in those sectors. Given that most deportees spend less than a month abroad, these findings suggest that the experience of being detained and deported can have strong negative effects not only on the deportees, but also on their receiving communities. READ MORE >>
Right to Education: Forced Migration and Child Education Outcomes ​[Draft available upon request]
Co-authors: Juan F. Vargas

Ongoing work

  • Working papers
    work in progress

Work In Progress

Life Out of the Shadows: Impacts of Amnesty Programs on Migrant’s Life
Co-authors: Ana María Ibáñez, Andrés Moya, and Marisol Rodríguez
Syrian Life Refugee Study: Impacts of a Shelter Program in Jordan
Co-authors: Ted Miguel, Sam Leone, and Emma Smith
Weak States: Development Consequences of Guerrillas in El Salvador
Co-authors: Antonella Bandiera, Lelys Dinarte, and Juan Miguel Jimenez