“Automation in Latin America: Are Women at Higher Risk of Losing Their Jobs? (2022) Egana-delSol, Pablo, Monserrat Bustelo, Laura Ripani,Nicolas Soler, and Mariana Viollaz Technological Forecasting and Social Change 

“COVID-19 and Automation in a Developing Economy: Evidence from Chile” (2022) Egana-delSol, Pablo, Gabriel Cruz, and Alejandro Micco. Technological Forecasting and Social Change.

“The Future of Work in Developing Economies” (2020) Egana-delSol, Pablo and Connor Joyce. MIT Sloan Management Review.

“The Impact of Art-Education on Human Capital: An Empirical Assessment of a Youth Orchestra” (2019). Egana-delSol, Pablo, Dante Contreras and Juan Pablo Valenzuela. International Journal of Educational Development.

Education for Sustainable Development: Strategies and Key Issues”. Encyclopedia of the UN Sustainable Development Goals. Quality Education. Walter L. Filho and Pinar Ozuyar (eds). Springer Nature, Berlin, 2019

“Resilient Communities And Cities: Strategies To Foster Sustainable Development” Encyclopedia of the UN Sustainable Development Goals. Good Health and Well-Being. Walter L. Filho and Tony Wall (eds). Springer Nature, Berlin, 2020.

“The Sharing Economy And The Future Of Energy” Encyclopedia of the UN Sustainable Development Goals. Energy. Walter L. Filho and Dinesh Surroop (eds). Springer Nature, Berlin, 2020. With Melati Nungsari.

“Strategies to Foster Sustainable Energy Consumption” Encyclopedia of the UN Sustainable Development Goals. Energy. Walter L. Filho and Dinesh Surroop (eds). Springer Nature, Berlin, 2020.

“The Platform Economy And Sustainable Energy” Encyclopedia of the UN Sustainable Development Goals. Good Health and Well-Being. Walter L. Filho and Dinesh Surroop (eds). Springer Nature, Berlin, 2020. With Samuel Flanders.

“Labor market in Latin America and the Caribbean: The Missing Reform” (2011) in The Oxford Handbook of Political Economy of Latin America, Oxford University Press, edited by Javier Santiso and Jeff Dayton-Johnson. With Alejandro Micco.

“Financial Sustainability of the Pension Reserve Fund of Chile” (2010). Ministry of Finance of Chile, Budget Office Official Reports. With Nicholas Bärr, Gilles Binet, Manuel Agosin, David Bravo, and Jaime Ruiz-Tagle [Spanish].


Preventing Violence in the Most Violent Contexts: Behavioral and Neurophysiogical Evidence from El Salvador 

With Lelys Dinarte (World Bank )

Revise & Resubmit at The Review of Economics and Statistics

World Bank Policy Research Working Paper No. 8862

Violence and delinquency levels in Central America are among the highest in the world, and constrain human capital acquisition. We conduct a randomized experiment in El Salvador designed to reduce this problem. The program works with 10-16 year olds and combines a behavioral intervention with extra-curricular activities. We find the program reduced bad behavior and absenteeism and improved student grades. By measuring brain activity, we show a key mechanism operates through emotional self-regulation, whereby treated adolescents become calmer when facing external stimuli. We also find positive spillovers on educational outcomes for other students in classes with treated students.

Socioemotional Skills Development and School-Based Violence: Measurements and Impacts

With Lelys Dinarte (World Bank) and Claudia Martinez (PUC and JPAL). 

Non-cognitive skills can determine socioeconomic success and the transmission of economic status across generations. Yet, evidence of cost-effective interventions that aim to develop these skills for at-risk youth living in highly violent contexts is still scarce. In this paper, we experimentally study the social-emotional learning and protection components of an After School Program (ASP) for teenagers in the most violent neighborhoods of El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala. By combining administrative records and data gathered on-site via computer from task-based games and AI-powered emotion detection algorithms, we measure the ASP’s impacts on behavior, academic performance, and non-cognitive skills. To measure the learning component, 21 public schools were randomly assigned to extracurricular activities (Clubs), a psychology-based curriculum that aims to strengthen participants’ character (Virtue), or a mindfulness and relaxation technique program (Mindful). To estimate the protection component, 8 schools were selected as pure controls with a propensity score approach. Results show that the net learning component improved behavior at school by 0.46 standard deviations and reduced a proxy for stress by 0.45 standard deviations
relative to the Clubs only ASP. These results were driven by the Virtue curriculum. Although the protection component negatively impacts social-emotional skills, it is, on average, more effective for students with worse behavior at baseline, indicating that the ASP curriculum and the characteristics of the population served are key in designing policies aimed at improving students’ behavior.

Neurophysiological Markers of Emotion Regulation Predict Efficacy of Entrepreneurship Education

With Paul Sajda (Columbia U) and Xiaoxiao Sun (Columbia U).

Under Review

Recent evidence shows that programs targeting the socio-emotional dimensions of entrepreneurship are more highly correlated with success along with key business metrics, such as sales and survival, than programs with a narrow, technical bent — e.g., accounting and finance. We argue that programs designed to foster socio-emotional skills are effective in improving entrepreneurship outcomes because they improve the students’ ability to regulate their emotions—i.e. disposition to make more measured, rational decisions. We test this hypothesis by studying a randomized controlled trial of an entrepreneurship program in Chile. We find that the program has a positive and significant impact on educational outcomes and on neurophysiological markers related to emotions, namely: decreasing arousal, valence, and leads to significant emotional regulation changes to negative stimuli.

Determinants of labor productivity and sales growth for micro, small and medium-sized enterprises in a middle-income country in Latin America

With Claudio Bravo-Ortega (UAI), Nicole Winkler-Sotomayor (Banco Estado) and Rodrigo Miranda (National Productivity Commission)

Under Review

In this paper we study the determinants of labor productivity and sales growth in micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) in a middle-income economy in Latin America. We investigate the case of Chilean MSMEs across different economic sectors. Middle-income countries have features, such as managerial skills and firms’ characteristics, together with access to private and public funding, that strongly differentiate them from low-income countries and developed economies. We focus on these three groups of determinants finding robust results across economic sectors. In addition, we analyze the determinants of growth of “gazelles,” the group of fast-growing SMEs. Finally, we propose a wide set of policies to foster productivity and the growth of MSMEs and gazelles in middle-income countries in Latin America.

The Role of New Technologies on Output Elasticity of Employment

With Alejandro Micco (UChile)

Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3688690

Under Review

In this paper, we present evidence about the short-term impact of COVID-19 on the labor market in the United States. During the second quarter of 2020, the pandemic destroyed 18 million jobs in the US private sector. For economics policies we inquire as to why some sectors, occupations, and demographic groups are more affected than others. We find that factors directly related to the epidemic are essential. Employees in occupations working in proximity to others are more affected, while occupations able to work remotely are less affected. We would expect that employment in these occupations should recover rapidly post-pandemic. But, we also find that sectors with a large fraction of occupations at risk of automation present a significantly higher contraction on employment. The contraction is mainly driven by sectors that underwent a capital deepening process in ICT and Software previous to the pandemic. A sector with one standard deviation higher in the share of employment in occupation at risk of automation cuts around 5 percentage points more employment during the second quarter of 2020. The same sector, but with one standard deviation higher increase in technology capital, cuts employment by around 7 percent. This evidence is in line with a similar cleansing process during the Great Recession. COVID-19 is catalyzing the automation process, and employment losses related to this phenomenon could be permanent.

Neuroscience and Education: Measuring and Developing Creative, Cognitive and Socioemotional Skills in Educational Settings

With Marcela Pena (PUC) and Jesus Juyumana (UChile)

Under Review

The average length of an individual’s education has grown over time, driven by the promise of improving a person’s job prospects and, consequently, their quality of life. However, several behavioral studies report that most skills needed to enhance job prospects are learned not in school but on the job. Similar studies support socioemotional skills’ role in human capital development. Nevertheless, claim that there is a need for better measurements of skills. Cognitive neuroscience research can play a pivotal role in helping us to understand such a skills gap and in designing human capital interventions to address this gap. Likewise, neuroscience data may provide better explanatory mechanisms, leading to empirical discoveries based on more robust methods and a more precise theoretical model. This paper discusses current and potential applications of neuroscientific findings concerning socio-emotional skills development within educational settings. We conclude that integrating socio-emotional neuroscience data into human capital studies can positively impact individuals’ behavior and decision making, improving occupational choice and salary while also affecting program designs and benefiting society.

The Impacts of a Middle-School Art-based Program on Academic Achievements, Creativity, and Creative Behaviors

Under Review

This article conducts an impact evaluation of an art-based program, implemented in public schools, on academic achievements, creativity, and socioemotional skills and behaviors. The main contribution with respect to previous literature is a quasi-experimental design that makes the causal link between these aspects more plausible. Four main findings are derived from the empirical investigation. First, participation in at least two semester-length workshops is a necessary condition to observe significant impacts. Second, participation has a significant impact on academic achievements. Grades increased by 0.61 standard deviations (sd) for language, by 0.36 sd for math, and by 0.33 sd for art. Overall GPA increased by 0.55 sd. The art-based program also increased participant willingness to consider postsecondary education. Third, the impact of the art-based program on various innovative graphical psychometric measures of creativity was positive and significant. Fourth, related to creative behaviors, the art-based program had a positive impact on certain cultural activities, such as time spent watching films at home and creating cultural goods (e.g., handicrafts, poetry, music).

The Future Of Work In Developing Economies. What Can We Learn From The Global South?

With Alejandro Micco (UChile)

In the last 10 years, concern has been growing about the effect that automation will have on the future of work. Numerous studies have investigated the impact that automation will have on labor markets but almost all have focused on developed nations, which generally have more service-oriented economies and a more skilled labor force. This is one of the first paper to study automation risk rates for developing nations. We examine the effect of automation on a group of developing countries in Latin America, Africa, Southeast Europe, and Asia. We also consider a group of 18 developed nations. To address the heterogeneity of occupations across countries, we apply a task-based approach and recalibrate the effect of automation on the labor market in order to analyze the task structure between and within countries. Modeling off previous studies, we follow an expectation-maximization algorithm to predict the risk of automation at the worker level. Highly automatable jobs are those with a 70\% or greater risk of automation. The results suggest that developing countries have higher levels of predicted automation risk compared to developed economies, regardless the considerable heterogeneity of the results. We also find that occupations containing relatively more routine tasks are more likely to be automated, and that workers with a higher level of education have a reduced risk of automation. Finally, we explore the relationship between automation risk with wages and employment, we regress differentiating the effect between developed and developing countries and by gender. Our results indicate that the risk of automation is negatively correlated with both wages and employment growth, and this negative correlation is larger in magnitude for developed countries and for women.

How Much Should We Trust Self-reported Measures? An Applied Neuroscience application to Social Program Evaluations

With Paul Sajda (Columbia U)  and Nicole Moscowitz (Columbia U)

Measures of cognitive skills —i.e. GPA, IQ, etc.— account for a small fraction of the variance in salaries and other economic outcomes (Bowles et al., 2001; Heckman et al., 2006). Therefore, there is an increasing interest in elucidating other factors that might explain that variance; in particular, the role played by non-cognitive skills. In the economics literature, empirical attempts to measure the aforementioned dimensions —cognition, personality traits, and creativity— have been insightful but are noisy due to the low reliability of the proxies used in their measurement (Calero et al., 2014; Cunha and Heckman, 2008; Cunha et al., 2010; Attanasio et al., 2015a; Almlund et al., 2011). This chapter is intrinsically related to the impact evaluation done in the Job Market Paper, and was designed as a deeper proof of concept of the relationship between emotions and self-reporting on measures of non-cognitive skills. The purpose is to show a plausible correlation between self-reported psychometric tests and transient emotional states, with the latter estimated from EEG recordings. To do so, a couple of relationships are established: namely, (i) showing the behavioral correlation between self-reported psychometric tests and transient emotional states, (ii) detecting emotional state and responsiveness from scalp EEG recordings, and (iii) showing the correlation between self-reported psychometric tests and transient emotional states using features from the EEG recordings. I argue that there is a positive correlation between emotional state and test scores that rely on self-ratings. In particular, I claim that self-reported tests used to measure both cognitive and non-cognitive skills are usually biased because of transient emotions that arise during testing.

“Impact Evaluation of the Digital Talent Program in Chile. with Christopher Neilson (Princeton Univerisity and JPAL) and John Eric Humphries (Yale University and JPAL).

“Encouragement RCT for improving effectiveness of bootcamp-based educational interventions. with Christopher Neilson (Princeton Univerisity and JPAL) and Fernanda Ramirez-Espinoza (Harvard University and JPAL-LAC).

“Risk of Automation and The Future of Work in Latin America”. With Claudio Bravo-Ortega (UAI) and Gabriel Cruz (U Maryland).

“Economic effects of Entrepreneurship Training: Evidence from a Randomized Controlled Trial”. With Sam Flanders (ASB) and Melati Nungsari (ASB). AEA RCT Registry 4013.

“The Role of Emotions in Entrepreneurship Education: Evidence on Labor Market Outcomes from Administrative Data in Chile”

“Reactiva: Measuring entrepreneurial and emotional regulation skills on real life context using AI-powered computer vision”. Software designed to conduct research on the field.