Working Papers

 Household Decision Making with Violence: Implications for Transfer Programs

Many countries around the world have programs that provide transfers to women with the aim of promoting gender empowerment. It is implicitly assumed that this additional economic resources unambiguously increase women's bargaining power. However, it is also possible that men react to threats to their bargaining power through violence. In this paper, I study how intimate partner violence responds to transfers to women, and whether this response depends on the transfer being in-kind or in-cash. To this end, I develop and estimate a model of household decision making in the presence of in-kind and cash transfers, in which the weights of the husband and the wife in household utility are endogenously determined through violence. Only men can inflict violence to increase their relative weight, but violence reduces female labor productivity.  Under this framework,  the utility gains the husband can appropriate through violence are lower when the transfers are in-kind. As a result, in-kind and cash transfers have different effects. I estimate the model using data from a randomized controlled trial providing transfers to poor families in Ecuador,  either in-kind or cash. The results indicate that, on average, violence destroys 4% of female productivity with a market value of 10 USD a month. Violence also reduces the female relative weight in the overall household utility by 12%.  A cash transfer equivalent to 10% of the average household income would reduce the prevalence of violence from 17% to 10%. However, if the same transfer were in-kind, violence would decline by 3 additional percentage points. This differential effect amplifies with the size of the transfer.  

Key wordsHousehold Decision Making, In-kind vs Cash Transfers, Violence 
JEL classification:  D13,  I38, J12

Successful public school systems can retain the best teachers in their classrooms. Yet traditional compensation policies do not provide much help in achieving this goal. In this paper, we analyze the effects on teacher retention and between school mobility of a program that rewards excellence in pedagogical practice in Chile. This is a relevant question as teacher turnover is costly for the school system, especially when  occurring early in the career. Similar to the US, in Chile every year around 12% of the teachers transition out of the school system, and 9% move to a different school. To prevent good teachers from leaving the profession and to allocate them in the classrooms where they are most needed, the Chilean government introduced a voluntary certification award program. Teachers apply voluntarily for the award and those who succeed on a set of assessments receive a 6% annual wage increase for up to 10 years. We use a sharp regression discontinuity design to identify the causal effect of receiving an award. Using administrative data over several cohorts of applicants our estimates indicate that, locally, the award does not alter transitions out of the school system. To understand the nature of this finding we provide a simple model of teachers' quitting behaviour. A teacher stays in the profession only if she is paid at least her reservation wage, and more productive teachers have higher reservation wages. To create incentives for more productive teachers to stay in the school system, the government pays an award to all teachers that voluntarily take the test and score above a threshold. Teachers decide whether or not to take the test and, after observing the results, they decide whether or not to quit. The retention effect depends on the difficulty of the test. If the test is relatively easy, teachers around the threshold are paid above their reservation wage and will not quit. In contrast, when the test is difficult, teachers scoring just below the threshold will quit, while those scoring just above will not. Our results suggest that the difficulty of the test is rather low in the sense that teachers marginally failing to receive the  award value their jobs more than their outside option. We observe, however, an increase in mobility within the school system among teachers that receive the award. Some of these mobility patterns are consistent with the award providing a signal of teacher quality.

Key words: Teacher Mobility, Teacher Compensation, Teacher Labor Market,  Chile 
JEL classification:  I28, J33, J45

Journal Articles

Am. J. Epidemiol. first published online December 29, 2014 doi:10.1093/aje/kwu339

Hypertension is a leading risk factor in the global disease burden. Limited hypertension awareness is a major determinant of widespread gaps in hypertension treatment and control, especially in developing countries. We analyzed data on persons aged 50 years or older from 6 low- and middle-income countries participating in the first wave (2007–2010) of the World Health Organization’s Survey of Global Ageing and Adult Health (SAGE). Our estimates suggest that just 1 year of routine opportunistic hypertension screening during formal visits to medical-care providers could yield significant increases in hypertension awareness among seniors in the developing world. We also show that eliminating missed opportunities for hypertension screening in medical settings would not necessarily exacerbate existing socioeconomic differences in hypertension awareness, despite requiring at least occasional contact with a formal health-care provider for obtaining a hypertension diagnosis. Thus, routine opportunistic screening for hypertension in formal medical settings may provide a simple but reliable way to increase hypertension awareness. Moreover, the proposed approach has the added advantage of leveraging existing resources and infrastructures, as well as facilitating a direct transition from the point of diagnosis to subsequent expert counseling and clinical care for newly identified hypertension patients.

Key wordsHealth Awareness; Hypertension; Screening
JEL classification:  I10,  I15, I18