Working papers

[Job Market Paper] 

with Diego Ramos-Toro

This paper studies the role of compulsory military service in the process of nation-building. We pair original survey data covering 29 cohorts of conscripts in Argentina with random variation in service emerging from a lottery. We find that military service leads to stronger national identity and better attitudes toward fellow countrymen several decades after serving. We document complementary mechanisms that explain these patterns: First, using natural language processing techniques on open-ended responses, we find suggestive evidence that social integration and national attachment were actively inculcated during service. In line with value transmission, former conscripts also tend to adopt the ideology of the government under which they served. Second, exposure to diverse peers and developing a more diverse social network reinforce the baseline patterns. We find no evidence that these results materialize through other mechanisms, such as conflict exposure, labor market outcomes, religiosity, or family formation. Taken together, these results show that conscription can effectively contribute to nation-building.


Bravo Center Graduate Student Working Paper #2022-003 

This paper explores the impact of football rivalries on social cohesion in Latin America. These rivalries create intracommunity divisions that are orthogonal to other cleavages such as socioeconomic status or ethnicity. This context provides the opportunity to study whether salient events that involve opposing groups within a community can improve social outcomes. Exploiting quasi-experimental variation in the timing of football matches and public opinion surveys across eleven countries and twenty rivalries, I find that social cohesion tends to improve in the days after a match, except when players behave violently or unethically. Effects are broadly shared by everyone, not just football fans, and are not explained by changes in insecurity or a generalized better mood. Taken together, these findings show that certain divisive events can improve the cohesiveness of a community, especially when mediated by the good behavior of role models.


Work in progress

with Pablo Balán

This project studies the role of narratives in entrepreneurship. Specifically, we advance the hypothesis that entrepreneurs use narratives —stories about their companies— as a market strategy to attract customers with specific identities or values. We leverage data on 25,000 online entrepreneurs in Latin America and observe that developing a narrative is associated with 11% higher sales, even after controlling for a large set of covariates. We implement natural language processing tools on the narratives developed by 5,000 firms and find evidence consistent with social image signaling. We test heterogeneous effects and obtain that the association is stronger among younger firms, which is consistent with narratives and reputation being strategic substitutes. We are currently working on additional analyses, including two experiments (one with entrepreneurs and one with consumers). 

This paper studies a cheap and scalable intervention targeting micro-entrepreneurs in developing countries, with the objective of improving their performance in advance of a major business opportunity. I leverage data on nearly 15,000 online entrepreneurs in Latin America and test whether two types of communications sent before Black Friday (BF) can lead to higher sales. One communication involved a simple reminder that BF was approaching and a nudge to plan their discount strategy and advertise it on social media. The other communication additionally included information on a relatively sophisticated pricing strategy—the loss-leader approach. I find that receiving any of the communications increased sales by 4% during the two weeks leading up to BF, but had no impact on BF or thereafter. I find no statistical differences in effects across communications and no evidence that receiving information on the loss-leader strategy led to its adoption. I explore different mechanisms and observe that the intervention led to better planning in terms of stock management and advertising. Exploiting data at the product-variant level, I find that treated entrepreneurs tend to increase the number of product-variants offered in advance of BF. Moreover, using web-scraped data on Instagram activity, I also observe that, during the days before BF, treated entrepreneurs substitute generic content with advertising discounts. Taken together, these results show that a simple intervention reminding entrepreneurs of a business opportunity and nudging them to engage can result in better planning, ultimately leading to better performance.

with Diego Ramos-Toro