We develop a new equilibrium model in which households’ labor supply choices form the link between sorting on the marriage market and sorting on the labor market. We first show that in theory, the nature of home production—whether partners’ hours are complements or substitutes—shapes equilibrium labor supply as well as marriage and labor market sorting. We then estimate our model on German data to empirically assess the nature of home production, and find that spouses’ home hours are complements. We investigate to what extent complementarity in home hours drives sorting and inequality. We find that home production complementarity strengthens positive marriage sorting and reduces the gender gap in hours and labor sorting. This puts significant downward pressure on the gender wage gap and within-household income inequality, but it fuels between-household inequality. Our estimated model sheds new light on the sources of inequality in today’s Germany, and—by identifying important shifts in home production technology toward more complementarity—on the evolution of inequality over time.
“The impact of divorce laws on the equilibrium in the marriage market.” June 2022. Revised and resubmitted, Journal of Political Economy.
Does unilateral divorce affect the gains from marriage and who marries whom? I exploit variation in the timing of adoption of new divorce laws across US states and show that unilateral divorce increases assortative matching among newlyweds. To understand the mechanisms and welfare effects, I specify and estimate a novel life cycle equilibrium model of marriage, labor supply, consumption, and divorce under the baseline mutual consent divorce regime. By solving the model under unilateral divorce I find that, consistent with the data, assortative matching and the likelihood of remaining single increase. Moreover,
the gains from marriage decrease for most education groups. Effects are largely due to changes in marital choices when risk sharing and cooperation opportunities within marriage decrease, which highlights the importance of considering equilibrium effects when evaluating policies that affect families.
In the traditional marriage market literature, policies affecting partners’ property rights do not affect who marries whom. In this paper I build a theory that shows that this neutrality result breaks down if we consider marital investments which returns are unverifiable to courts and accumulate in the private account of one of the spouses. I develop an equilibrium model of marriage, household specialization, and divorce in which working spouses with stay-at-home partners accumulate relatively more human capital (a feature verified in the data). In this environment, I consider a policy change that decreases the commitment of ex-spouses to share the returns from the human capital accumulated during the marriage. I show that such a policy gives rise to an equilibrium with higher incidence of two earner households (even when specialization is efficient) and higher spousal assortative matching in human capital, relative to the pre-reform equilibrium. This prediction is supported by empirical evidence showing that the introduction of unilateral divorce in the US (a regime that reduced the enforcement of transfers among ex-spouses) is associated with higher sorting in education, parental education, and pre-marital labor earnings among newlyweds.
“Polygamy, co-wives’ complementarities, and intrahousehold inequality.” April 2021.
I develop and test a novel theory of polygamy that incorporates an empirical feature previously overlooked: Co-wives interact in a senior-junior hierarchy. In equilibrium, single, monogamous, and polygamous households emerge. Optimal female sorting generates co-wives’ inequality: High-skilled women become senior wives in polygamous households with wealthy men and low-skilled juniors. Monogamous couples are in the middle of the attractiveness distributions. Three sets of nonparametric tests using various data sets confirm the model’s predictions.
Improving school quality with limited resources is a key issue of policy. It has been suggested that instructing teachers to follow specific practices together with tight monitoring of their activities may help improve outcomes in underperforming schools that usually serve poor populations. This paper uses a RCT to estimate the effectiveness of guided instruction methods as implemented in under-performing schools in Chile. The intervention improved performance substantially for some students. However, the effect is mainly accounted for by children from relatively higher income backgrounds and not for the most deprived. Based on the CLASS instrument we document that quality of teacher-student interactions is positively correlated with the performance of low income students; however, the intervention did not affect these interactions. Guided instruction can improve outcomes, but it is a challenge to sustain the impacts and to reach the most deprived children.
“Teenage risky behavior and parental supervision: the unintended consequences of multiple shifts school systems.” (with Martín Rossi).
Economic Inquiry, January 2019.
We study the relationship between attending high school at night and the probability of engaging in risky behavior, such as having unsafe sex or consuming substances. To address potential endogeneity concerns we take advantage of a random assignment of high school students to daytime and night shifts in the city of Buenos Aires. Using an original survey on students attending their last year of high school, we find that girls attending high school in the evening start having sex at an earlier age and present a higher probability of getting an abortion. We find no significant differences for substance use. Our experimental approach suggests that the link between high school shift and risky behavior is causal. Results hold when we use an alternative sample of alumni. Finally, we report evidence that the lack of parental supervision is the mechanism underlying our results.
“Failing to notice? Uneven teachers’ attention to boys and girls in the classroom.” (with Marina Bassi, Mercedes Mateo Diaz, & Rae Blumberg).
IZA Journal of Labor Economics, November 2018.
This paper analyzes whether teachers’ attention to boys and girls differs in low-performing schools in Chile, where large gender gaps in test scores are also observed. We coded 237 videotaped classes of fourth graders, identifying specific behaviors of teachers toward boys and girls. The results show a general imbalance in teachers’ attention and interactions favoring boys. Gender attention gap is correlated with lower scores in math for girls on Chile’s national standardized test (SIMCE). The gender attention gap was also greater in general in classrooms in which teachers had overall worse interactions with students, as measured by the Classroom Assessment Scoring System (CLASS). The evidence in this paper contributes to the discussion about whether traditional measures of teacher-student interactions really capture all that matters for learning.