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Latin America

Ballot Order Effects and Party Responses: Evidence from Lotteries in Colombia

Ballot positions often affect the electoral performance of parties. Existing theories for this effect focus on voter-specific behavioral explanations. We present evidence on an additional unexplored mechanism: parties adjust their behavior to account for their position on the ballot. This adjustment matters for how we interpret existing results. First, we use a constituency level lottery of ballot positions across two elections and 1971 races in Colombia. We find evidence for a ballot position effect of 6.7 percent on vote share, and 8.8 percent on seat share.

Urban Water Disinfection and Mortality Decline in Developing Countries

Historically, improvements in the quality of municipal drinking water made important contributions to mortality decline in wealthy countries. However, water disinfection often does not produce equivalent benefits in developing countries today. We investigate this puzzle by analyzing an abrupt, large-scale municipal water disinfection program in Mexico in 1991 that increased the share of Mexico’s population receiving chlorinated water from 55 percent to 85 percent within six months.

Banking the Unbanked? Evidence From Three Countries

We experimentally test the impact of expanding access to basic bank accounts in Uganda, Malawi, and Chile. Over two years, 17 percent, 10 percent, and 3 percent of treatment individuals made five or more deposits, respectively. Average monthly deposits for them were at the 79th, 91st, and 96th percentiles of baseline savings. Survey data show no clearly discernible intention–to–treat effects on savings or any downstream outcomes.

Paving the Road to Development: Costly Migration and Labor Market Integration

How integrated are labor markets within a country? Labor mobility is key to the integration of local labor markets and therefore to understanding the efficacy of policies to reduce regional inequality. We present a comprehensive framework for understanding migration decisions, focusing on the costs of migrating. We construct and then estimate a spatial equilibrium model where mobility is determined not only by idiosyncratic tastes, but also by moving costs that are origin-destination dependent.

Living in Fear: The Dynamics Of Extortion in Mexico’s Criminal Insurgency

This paper provides an account of the strategies of extortion and co-optation used by drug trafficking organizations (DTOs) toward civil society in Mexico. Our theoretical approach focuses on levels of territorial contestation among armed actors, as well as state capture by DTOs, to explain variation in co-opting or coercing civil society. Through the use of list experiments in a nationally representative survey, the paper measures extortion and assistance by DTOs in Mexico.

Killing in the Slums: An Impact Evaluation of Police Reform in Rio de Janeiro

This paper evaluates the causal impact of Rio de Janeiro’s Pacifying Police Units (UPPs), probably the largest–scale police reform initiative taking place in the developing world. The main goals of the UPPs were: 1) to regain control of territories previously dominated by armed criminal groups; and 2) to improve security for these communities through reduction of lethal violence. In the course of six years, more than 9,000 police officers were permanently assigned to the UPPs, servicing close to half million residents in the city slums (favelas).

Real Estate Policy in Brazil and Some Comparisons with the United States

Empirical observation suggests that economic development does not stem from historical determinism. Forces that operate in a market reflect institutional factors, and especially public policies. In 2009, the Brazilian government announced an ambitious program of housing development, “Programa Minha Casa, Minha Vida” (PMCMV), with social goals. The growth of the housing market in recent years and its slowdown since 2014 has generated discussion about a possible bubble scenario.

Caught in the Crossfire: The Geography of Extortion and Police Corruption in Mexico

When Mexican President Felipe Caldrón took office in December 2006 he declared a war on the nation’s drug traffic organizations. Violence escalated as criminal organizations became increasingly fragmented and disputed their territories. The main strategy followed by the federal government involved capturing leaders and lieutenants of criminal organizations. This seemed to provoke even more violence, by making the competition over territorial control fiercer and providing incentives for many gangs to make extortion and protection fees (derecho de piso) an additional source of revenue.

Information, Female Empowerment and Governance in Oaxaca, Mexico

Traditional community rules are formally recognized in multiple constitutions across Latin America. Scholars debate the extent to which these practices conform to broader principles of  gender equality. A unique institutional feature in the impoverished state of Oaxaca, Mexico, divides municipalities into traditional and party-based governance. We exploit this feature with original survey data and find that rates of female participation in traditional communities are not different when compared to non-traditional ones.

Alberto Diaz-Cayeros

Alberto Diaz-Cayeros joined the FSI faculty in 2013 after serving for five years as the director of the Center for US-Mexico studies at the University of California, San Diego. He earned his PhD at Duke University in 1997. He was an assistant professor of political science at Stanford from 2001-2008, before which he served as an assistant professor of political science at the University of California, Los Angeles. Diaz-Cayeros has also served as a researcher at Centro de Investigacion Para el Desarrollo, A.C. from 1997-1999.


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