I am an applied economist interested in development economics, demography, and regional economics. My research lies at the intersection of gender, migration, and factors that affect labor market participation. Some of these factors are the opportunity cost of time, job-search frictions, and human capital investment. My dissertation investigates the relationship between migration and fertility, risk preferences, and the intergenerational transmission of education. Migration provides an opportunity to explore how individual outcomes vary either because of location-specific characteristics or because of individual-level incentives. Other works in progress study the relationship between temporal migration and uncertainty of earnings, and outmigration and asset accumulation.
For my future research I am interested in exploring the differences between place-based constraints and individual characteristics for labor force participation. One area of interest is to examine incentives for different types migration. For example, how trips are different for women and what does that mean for their labor market and non-labor market outcomes. Another area of research interest is whether care-based policies affect labor market participation for individuals including location restrictions and time availability.
Childhood Migration Effects on Fertility, Evidence from the Mexican Family Life Survey
This research examines the relationship between childhood migration and the fertility decisions of adult women using the Mexican Family Life Survey. The analysis tests whether migration before the age of 12 has a causal effect on the total number of children and the age at first pregnancy. Migration before the age of 12 is a household decision rather than the decision of the individual herself; unlike adult migration, which prevents causal identification due to the simultaneity of the migration and fertility decisions. Additionally, given that fertility histories start at the age of 14, there is no risk of reverse causality because of the time lag between childhood migration and the start of parity. Results show that women who migrated in childhood are more likely to have children; and, conditional on having children, have more children. Furthermore, women born in rural areas who migrated to urban areas have fewer children than rural-born non-migrants or rural-born migrants who move to other rural destinations. This study highlights the importance of migration history - even in childhood - to study migration and fertility. The results are relevant for policies that influence fertility rates and population age distributions, as well as those that use fertility estimates to budget for public services. This is especially true in an increasingly migratory, aging, and urbanized world.
Does Migration Change Risk Preferences: Evidence from Mexico
(with J. Chen and A. Light)
This study directly tests the effect of migration on risk preferences. We know migrants have different risk tolerance; but, is this pre-existing or formed by experience? How malleable are risk preferences? I analyze changes in risk preferences from migration by comparing measurements of risk for migrants and non-migrants at two different points in time. Migration reduces the difference in risk preferences between migrants and non-migrants. In other words, the level of risk aversion between the two groups converges, after controlling for the tolerance for risk of migrants, and the increase in risk aversion as individuals get older. The paper provides a theoretical background on the relationship between utility and incentives for migration but refrains from making assumptions about utility functions. The identification strategy focuses on a reduced form analysis including three statistical models, and the exploitation of the survey’s panel structure and representative design. To account for reverse causality, I use migration networks as an instrumental variable (IV) for migration. The panel structure allows me to test for changes in the variable of interest; similar to a difference in differences approach. IV helps identify causality. Results are suggestive that migration affects patterns of the evolution of risk preferences.
Assessing Intergenerational Transmission of Education for Immigrants in the United States
Are immigrants achieving higher education levels than their parents? Are their children moving up in the intergenerational race to the top? And how does it differ across regions in the United States? Using the New Immigration Survey (NIS) data, this paper analyzes how educational outcomes of individuals compare to their immigrant parents. The underlying presumption is that if a person achieves higher education than his/her parents, then s/he “moved up”. Furthermore, this may not be the case for immigrants. The contribution of this paper lies in using legal immigrants as the focus population, it characterizes intergenerational mobility through three generations, and compares such mobility across regions of the United States. Results show that an additional year of education of the parent is associated with children having 0.3 to 0.4 years of education higher than the average. This is compelling evidence to say that children of immigrants have higher education than their parents, hence “moving up”.
A Dynamic Model for Temporary Migration with Uncertainty at the Origin
This paper develops a dynamic stochastic model and characterize conditions under which temporary migration is used for consumption smoothing of low-income risk-averse individuals. Its main contribution is that it considers the following three aspects all in the same model: more than one period, hence the agent is maximizing lifetime utility; uncertainty of earnings; and uncertainty of earnings is at the origin and not at the destination. It shows analytical solutions under a static model, and a two-period model. It also presents a parameterized example to illustrate the usability of the model with computational tools. The numerical analysis shows the risk averse agent spends more periods at the destination location than a risk neutral agent.
Works in Progress
Microcredits, home ownership, and debt service, a case study
This research uses a dataset from a small microcredit company in Colombia, and studies the relationship between debt service, and demographic characteristics and ownership of a home. Loans are smaller than personal loans available through the formal banking sector, but larger than the regulated micro credits industry.
The effect of inequality on production for small and beginner farmers
This project uses county level data from the Unites States to analyze the relationship between percentage of small and beginner farmers and labor market characteristics of the county. One aspect of the study analyzes the relationship with the off-farm labor market. One of the main drivers of farmers to work outside the farm is non-wage benefits such as health insurance. This project also uses dynamic programming to compare optimal labor, capital, and output of a closed economy with varying levels of inequality. Inequality is defined as differing proportions of capital investment, reflected by the proportion of small (beginner) farms in the economy.
This project is part of the Farm Income Enhancement Program at The Ohio State University.