Job market candidate
Tel. +34 93 542 2698
Available for Interviews at :
Simposio de la Asociación Española de Economía (SAEe), December 15-17, Bilbao, Spain
Allied Social Science Associations (ASSA), January 6-8, Chicago, US
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Development Economics, Environmental Economics, Health Economics
“Biofueling Poor Fetal Health?” (Job Market Paper)
The Renewable Fuel Standard of 2005 increased the demand for corn ethanol and led to an expansion in the production of corn, a pesticide-intensive crop. I estimate the effect of the resulting policy-induced increase in corn production on the incidence of two fetal conditions previously associated with exposure to corn pesticides and on the incidence of perinatal death in the U.S. Corn Belt. I first develop a theoretical model showing that in the U.S. context, where corn is regularly rotated with soy, a county's potential for corn expansion following a positive demand shock is increasing in the pre-shock soy acreage and in the relative corn suitability of the land used for soy. Using high-resolution, geo-referenced data on land use and land suitability, I construct a novel county-level measure of potential for corn expansion in the U.S. Corn Belt. Estimates using this measure indicate that the Renewable Fuel Standard explains almost half of the corn acreage increase over the sample period. By combining the introduction of the Renewable Fuel Standard, county-level variation in potential for corn expansion, seasonal variation in corn pesticide applications during the growing year, and variation in fetal month of conception, I find that the policy-induced increase in corn production had a positive and significant effect on the incidence of abdominal wall defects, on being born small-for-gestational age, and on perinatal death. My estimates imply that the Renewable Fuel Standard increased the incidence of abdominal wall defects by over 90 percent for births exposed to times of intensive pesticide use at conception. For births exposed to times of intensive pesticide use during their last two gestational trimesters, the Renewable Fuel Standard increased the incidence of perinatal death by over 20 percent. These are likely lower bound estimates of the true effects as I find suggestive evidence of fetal selection in utero. My estimates further imply that during the sample period, the Renewable Fuel Standard accounts for over 60 percent of the increase in the incidence of abdominal wall defects and over 8 percent of the increase in the incidence of being born small-for-gestational age. Hence, the RFS can help explain the upward trends in these conditions, an existing public health puzzle.
“Adverse Rainfall Shocks and Civil War: Myth or reality?” (Online Appendix)
News reports and policy makers frequently link African civil conflicts and wars to agricultural crises caused by droughts. However, empirical studies of the relationship between rainfall and civil conflict or war remain inconclusive. I reexamine this relationship focusing on rainfall over each country’s agricultural land during the growing seasons. I also incorporate that the relationship between rainfall and agricultural output is hump-shaped, as rainfall beyond a threshold decreases output. I find a U-shaped relationship between rainfall and the risk of civil conflict and war in (Sub-Saharan) African countries. This relationship mirrors the hump-shaped relationship between rainfall and agricultural output.