Young Development Economists Webinars


The Young Development Economists Webinar Series (YoDEV) provides young scholars working on development economics with the opportunity to present and discuss their high-quality research with a broad online audience, including fellows and faculty members located in different parts of the world.

This is a joint initiative of University of Milano Bicocca, University of Pavia and Centro Studi Luca d'Agliano in Italy.

The Seminar takes place monthly at 2.30pm (CET) on Zoom. To receive information and updates on the webinars, please register here.


Sara Giunti (U. of Milano Bicocca), Marinella Leone (U. of Pavia and LdA), Mariapia Mendola (U. of Milano Bicocca and LdA)


September 22nd : Diogo Britto (Bocconi University) "Job Displacement, Unemployment Benefits and Domestic Violence " (with S. Bhalotra, P. Pinotti and B. Sampaio)

Abstract: We provide the first causal estimates on a given sample of how individual job loss of men and women influences the risk of domestic violence (DV), and whether unemployment benefits mitigate these impacts. Estimating this confluence of three parameters on a given sample places us in a strong position to illuminate the underlying mechanisms. Using data on about 2 million domestic violence cases brought to criminal courts in Brazil during 2009-2017, we identify the defendant and the plaintiff in longitudinal employment registers. Leveraging mass layoffs for identification, we find that both male and female job loss, independently, lead to a large and persistent increase in domestic violence. Exploiting a discontinuity in unemployment insurance eligibility, we find UI does not have an ameliorating influence while benefits are being paid, but that eligible men (who have longer unemployment durations) are more likely to commit DV than ineligible men once benefits expire. Our findings indicate a role for income loss and exposure as mechanisms. The reason that UI does not mitigate DV is that it increases exposure while relaxing income constraints.

October 15th: Travis Baseler (University of Rochester) “Hidden Income and the Perceived Returns to Migration: Experimental Evidence from Kenya"

Abstract: Urban workers in Kenya earn twice as much as rural workers with the same level of education. Why don't more rural workers migrate to cities? I use two field experiments to show that low migration is partly due to underestimation of urban incomes, and that this inaccurate information can be sustained by migrants' strategic motives to hide income to minimize remittance obligations. Parents underestimate their migrant children's incomes by nearly half, and underestimation is greater when a migrant's incentive to hide income is higher. Providing information about urban earnings increases migration to the capital city by 33% over two years.

November 12th: Elif Kubilay (University of Essex) "Social Exclusion and Ethnic Segregation in Schools: The Role of Teacher’s Ethnic Prejudice" (with S. Alan, E. Duysak and I. Mumcu)

Abstract: Using uniquely detailed data on primary school children and their teachers, we show that teachers who hold prejudicial attitudes towards an ethnic group create socially and spatially segregated classrooms. We identify this relationship by exploiting a natural experiment where newly arrived refugee children are randomly assigned to teachers within schools. We elicit children’s social networks to construct multiple measures of social exclusion and ethnic segregation in classrooms. We find that teachers’ ethnic prejudice significantly lowers the prevalence of inter-ethnic social links in classrooms, increases homophilic ties among native children, and puts minority children at a higher risk of peer violence.

December 17th: Davide Del Prete (University of Naples Parthenope) "Firms amid the War: Performance, Production Inputs, and Market Competition" (with M. Di Maio and A. Rhaman)

Abstract: This paper studies the impact of conflict on firms' economic performance and explores the underlying mechanisms. We combine a novel retrospective panel dataset of Libyan firms with geo-localized data on conflict events during the Second Libyan Civil War. Our results show that conflict exposure reduces firm revenues. This occurs primarily through a disruption to international supply chain linkages and a reduction in the foreign workforce. Yet, conflict also reduces the number of competitors, increasing for some surviving firms the market shares and mitigating the negative effect of conflict on revenues.

January 14th: Maria Carmela Lo Bue (UNU-Wider) "Intergenerational mobility of education in Vietnam: Evidence from the Vietnam War" (with Khoa Vu)

Abstract: Vietnam’s education system has recently attracted international attention for exceptional learning outcomes and success in improving schooling outcomes over a short period, despite being a lower-middle-income country. One potential explanation is the substantial increase in parental schooling after the Vietnam War ended in 1975, which might have led to better educational outcomes for the next generation. This study examines the causal effect of parental schooling on children’s educational attainment in Vietnam. We exploit variation in parental exposure to aerial bombing at an early age to identify the effect of parental schooling. Our instrumental variable estimates indicate that the father’s schooling does not affect a child’s educational outcomes. Furthermore, we find that although parental bombing exposure reduced their schooling, it did not affect children’s educational outcomes or parental investment in their children. Taken together, these findings suggest that Vietnam’s recent success in education is not caused by the rise in the schooling of the parents of today’s children after the war ended in 1975.

February 25th: Nicolás Ajzenman (São Paulo School of Economics) "Immigration, Crime, and Crime (Mis)Perceptions" (with Patricio Dominguez and Raimundo Undurraga)

Abstract: Does immigration affect crime or beliefs about crime? We answer this question in the context of Chile, where the foreign-born population almost tripled in five years. To identify a causal effect, we use two strategies: a two-way fixed effects model at the municipality level and a 2SLS model, which is based on immigration toward destination countries other than Chile. First, we show that immigration increases concerns about crime and public security. We then document a substantial effect on behavioral responses such as investing in home-security or adopting coordinated anti-crime measures with neighbors. Finally, we show that these concerns about crime seem ungrounded as we fail to find any significant effect on victimization. When exploring potential channels, we find suggestive evidence of the effect being driven by municipalities with a larger number of local radio stations per capita. Consistent with this, we show that the frequency of crime-related news on TV and newspapers is systematically higher when a homicide was perpetrated by an immigrant in comparison to a homicide perpetrated by a local. We also find that the effect seems to be larger when the composition of immigrants is relatively low-skilled. Finally, using an index of bilateral ethnic distance to measure ethnic-related intergroup threat, we show that the genetic distance between Chileans and the nationality of immigrants does not drive any effects.

March 18th: Andrea Guariso (Trinity College Dublin) "Supporting Learning In and Out of School: Experimental Evidence from India" (with Martina Björkman Nyqvist)

Abstract: Two challenges faced by many primary school children in developing countries are the gap between their actual knowledge and the level targeted by teachers in class, and the lack of support for their studying and learning activities outside of school hours. In this paper we study an innovative education program implemented in India that tackle both these challenges by combining an in-school pedagogical intervention with the creation of out-of-school study groups . We rely on an experimental design to assess the effectiveness of the full program as well as of the in-and-out of school components separately. Our results show that the full program significantly increased test scores in both mathematics and language. However, when implemented in isolation, the two components did not have any impact on learning. Our analysis reveals the importance of the timing of the intervention and provides evidence of inputs substitution taking place in the schools. Overall, the findings prove the effectiveness of a multidimensional approach that supports the children’s learning process both in and out of school.

April 8th: Pietro Biroli (University of Zurich) "Maternal depression and child development: Evidence from a psychotherapy RCT and stress biomarkers from hair" (with Victoria Baranov, Allison Frost, Ashley Hagaman, Julian G. Simmons, Muhammad S. Manzoor, Sonia Bhalotra, Atif Rahman, Siham Sikander and Joanna Maselko)

Introduction: Disruptions in the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis are thought to be key neuroendocrine mechanisms involved in psychopathology and may have intergenerational impacts.

Objective: We examine the impact of a perinatal psychosocial intervention on mother-child HPA axis activity assessed using hair-derived cortisol, cortisone, and DHEA.

Methods: Hair samples were collected from mother-child dyads at one year postpartum from a subsample of prenatally depressed women randomized to a cognitive-behavioral intervention (n=35 dyads) or to enhanced usual care (n=37 dyads), and from a comparison sample of women who screened negative for depression in pregnancy (n=35 dyads).

Results: The intervention reduced maternal cortisol levels by approximately 38 percent (p=0.01) and maternal cortisone levels by 45 percent (p<0.01). Maternal DHEA levels were higher among women in the intervention group compared to the EUC group, an increase of approximately 29 percent (p=0.02). Intergenerational intervention effects show increased DHEA levels in infants by approximately 43% (p=0.03). Infant cortisol and cortisone did not differ across groups.

Conclusions: This study provides evidence for a causal link between treatment of maternal depression and HPA axis activity in mothers and children. Utilizing hair-derived biomarkers of HPA-axis activity is a potentially useful clinical indicator of intervention impacts on the neuroendocrine system.

June 3rd: Rossella Calvi (Rice University ) "Til Dowry Do Us Part: Bargaining and Violence in Indian Families" (with Ajinkya Keskar)

Abstract: We develop a non-cooperative bargaining model with incomplete information linking dowry payments, domestic violence, resource allocation between a husband and a wife, and separation. Our model generates several predictions, which we test empirically using amendments to the Indian anti-dowry law as a natural experiment. We document a decline in women's decision-making power and separations, and a surge in domestic violence following the amendments. These unintended effects are attenuated when social stigma against separation is low and, in some circumstances, when gains from marriage are high. Whenever possible, parents increase investment in their daughters’ human capital to compensate for lower dowries.

July 1st: Avner Seror (Aix Marseille School of Economics) "Culture, Institutions and the Long Divergence" (with Alberto Bisin, Jared Rubin and Thierry Verdier)

Abstract: Recent theories of the Long Divergence between Middle Eastern and Western European economies focus on Middle Eastern (over-)reliance on religious legitimacy, use of slave soldiers, and persistence of restrictive proscriptions of religious (Islamic) law. These theories take as exogenous the cultural values that complement the prevailing institutions. As a result, they miss the role of cultural values in either supporting the persistence of or inducing change in the economic and institutional environment. In this paper, we address these issues by modeling the joint evolution of institutions and culture. In doing so, we place the various hypotheses of economic divergence into one, unifying framework. We highlight the role that cultural transmission plays in reinforcing institutional evolution toward either theocratic or secular states. We extend the model to shed light on political decentralization and technological change in the two regions.

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