Heitor Pellegrina

Assistant Professor of Economics

New York University Abu Dhabi

Research Interests: trade and development.


Working Papers

What are the regional and aggregate effects of migration on comparative advantage? We develop a quantifiable, overlapping generation model of trade and migration to study an episode of large westward migration in Brazil. Workers' migration to the west was key for Brazil's emergence as a global agricultural exporter, with the knowledge carried by migrants playing an important role in major commodities.

We study how labor market imperfections distort firm-level technology choices and alter the distribution of the gains from trade in developing countries. We document that firms using modern technologies are disproportionately exposed to labor market distortions in low-income countries. We introduce this feature into a quantitative trade model with technology adoption to study quantitatively, and analytically, effects of these distortions on welfare.

We study the impacts of trade policy and economic growth on deforestation through a dynamic, global perspective. We build a dynamic general equilibrium model of trade and land use, in which structural change and comparative advantage determine the extent, location, and timing of deforestation. Preliminary results indicate that the global forest area would expand in response to multilateral trade liberalization in agriculture, but that it would shrink when the liberalization is experienced by individual regions.

Publications and Accepted

We examine the contribution of trade to the rise of modern agriculture, taking into account the interactions between trade, input requirements, and technology adoption We develop a global trade model in which farmers choose which crops to produce, and with which technology, at the level of grid cells covering the Earths' surface. Trade in agricultural inputs has a large impact on agricultural modernization, with important implications to global welfare and welfare inequality.

What are the effects of agricultural productivity shocks across regions of a country? We exploit a unique dataset from India and a spatial regression discontinuity design to address this question. We show reduced-form evidence that the effects of the agricultural productivity shocks depend substantially on the geographic incidence of these shocks.

Using rich farm-level dataset from Colombia, we study how farmers' participation into non-local markets shapes agricultural productivity. We show new empirical facts about the relationship between farmers' productivity and market participation, within and between regions of Colombia. We calibrate a spatial economy model with farmers' heterogeneity to study how farmers' selection into non-local markets shape agricultural productivity.

Several African countries have recently centralized their agricultural markets by launching a commodity exchange market. We develop a search model to study the impact of introducing a centralized market in a village economy in which farmers and traders exchange on a bilateral basis. We describe how the gains from trade are distributed between farmers and traders.

I estimate a quantitative spatial equilibrium model using rich data from Brazil to study the GE effects of a critical shock in modern agriculture: the adaptation of soybeans to tropical regions. I find that agricultural employment fell in regions to which soybeans expanded, but rose substantially in other regions. I study the implications of GE effects to the returns to agricultural research and the reduced form impact of soybeans on agricultural employment.

Work in Progress


  • 2021-2022 - Economic Policy and Environmental Economics (UG), NYU Abu Dhabi

  • 2017-2020 - International Economics (UG), NYU Abu Dhabi

  • 2017-2019 - Statistics for the Social Science (UG), NYU Abu Dhabi

Additional Material