Essays on Human Capital in Brazil.
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This thesis consists of three independent chapters on human capital in Brazil. Chapter one examines the effect of the introduction of automatic grade promotion on student performance in 1,993 public primary schools in the Brazilian state of Minas Gerais. A difference-in-differences approach that exploits variation over time in the adoption of the policy allows the identification of the treatment effect of automatic promotion. I find a negative and significant effect of about 6% of a standard deviation. I provide evidence from quantile regression DiD estimates consistent with an interpretation of the findings as disincentive effect on student effort associated with the introduction of automatic grade promotion; additional evidence on student and teacher behaviour supports this interpretation. Chapter two provides a novel way of identifying peer group effects in Brazil. Students in Brazil are typically assigned to classes based on the age ranking in their cohort. I exploit this rule to estimate the effects on maths achievement of being in class with older peers for students in fifth grade using a regression discontinuity design. I provide evidence that heterogeneity in age (and in other characteristics) is an important factor for student performance. Information on teaching practices and student behaviour sheds light on how class heterogeneity may harm learning. Chapter three uses microdata from Brazilian vital statistics natality and mortality data between 2000 and 2010 to estimate the impact of in-utero exposure to local violence - measured by homicide rates - on birth outcomes. Focusing on small communities, for which it is more credible that local homicide rates reflect actual exposure to violence, the analysis shows that exposure to violence during pregnancy leads to deterioration in birth outcomes: one extra homicide during the first trimester of pregnancy increases the probability of low birthweight by around 6 percent.
AuthorsFoureaux Koppensteiner, Martin
- Theses