Welcome to my website. I am an Assistant Professor at the Institute for International Economic Studies at Stockholm University. My research focuses on human capital, education, and development.

You can view my CV here.


What is a Good School, and Can Parents Tell? Evidence on the Multidimensionality of School Output

with Diether W. Beuermann, C. Kirabo Jackson, and Francisco Pardo

The Review of Economic Studies, vol. 90(1), pp 65–101. January 2023.

Published article (Open access)

Media: VoxDev, Caribbean Dev Trends (IDB), Nada es Gratis (Spanish)

To explore whether schools’ causal impacts on test scores measure their overall impact on students, we exploit plausibly exogenous school assignments and data from Trinidad and Tobago to estimate the causal impacts of individual schools on several outcomes. Schools’ impacts on high-stakes tests are weakly related to impacts on important outcomes such as arrests, dropout, teen motherhood, and formal labour market participation. To examine if parents’ school preferences are related to these causal impacts, we link them to parents’ ranked lists of schools and employ discrete-choice models to infer preferences for schools. Parents choose schools that improve high-stakes tests even conditional on peer quality and average outcomes. Parents also choose schools that reduce criminality and teen motherhood and increase labour market participation. School choices among parents of low-achieving students are relatively more strongly related to schools’ impacts on non-test-score outcomes, while the opposite is true for parents of high-achieving students. These results suggest that evaluations based solely on test scores may be misleading about the benefits of school choice (particularly for low-achieving students), and education interventions more broadly.


Broadcasting Education at Scale: Long-Term Labor Market Impacts of Television-Based Schools 

with Raissa Fabregas

[NEW!] June 2024: Latest version

Human capital accumulation is considered a critical determinant of economic development, but providing educational services in remote rural areas remains a significant challenge in countries with limited fiscal and state capacity. This paper examines the long-term impacts of television-based schools as an alternative method for scaling education in remote regions.  In Mexico, TV-schools --lower secondary schools that partially substitute on-site subject-specialized teachers with televised lectures-- serve over 1.4 million children annually.  We exploit the variation in geographical intensity of TV-school openings and cohort exposure from 1980 to 2000 to estimate the educational and labor market impacts of this at-scale school expansion. Cohorts in areas with high TV-school construction intensity are 8 percentage points more likely to graduate from lower secondary education, with an overall increase of 0.4 years of schooling and an 8% rise in hourly earnings, with labor market returns comparable to those estimated from the roll-out of standard schools. Impacts are primarily driven by previously out-of-school children enrolling in TV-schools rather than by students switching across school types. Educational attainment gains are consistent across regions, but higher labor market gains are found in more urbanized and economically diversified municipalities.

Note: This paper is the result of combining two independent papers: "Secondary Schools with Televised Lessons: The Labor Market Returns of the Mexican Telesecundaria" (Navarro-Sola, 2021), and "Broadcasting Human Capital? The Long-Term Effects of Mexico's Telesecundarias" (Fabregas, 2021). This paper supersedes all prior versions.

Lowering Barriers to Remote Education: Experimental Impacts on Parental Responses and Learning

with Emily Beam and Priya Mukherjee

October 2023: Latest version, IZA Discussion Paper No. 15596HCEO Working Paper 2022-030

We conduct a randomized controlled trial with households of secondary school students in Bangladesh to investigate how parents adjust their investments in response to three educational interventions: an informational campaign about an educational phone application, an internet data subsidy, and one-on-one phone learning support. We find that offering an educational service in a context where other barriers to take-up exist can still trigger parental educational investments by acting as a signal or nudge. These behavioral changes result in lasting learning gains concentrated among richer households, reflecting that the relevant behavior change--increased tutoring investment--is easier for them to implement. In contrast, when interventions do increase take-up, they have the potential to narrow the socioeconomic achievement gap. We observe that increased usage of the targeted educational service limits parental behavioral responses. This implies that learning gains in these cases are directly caused by the potential effectiveness of the services adopted. In our setting, remote one-to-one teacher support improves learning among students from poorer households, whereas receiving the free data package jointly with the app information has no impact on learning.


The Impact of Formative Assessment of Behavior-Based Socioemotional Skills on Students' Outcomes

with Caterina Calsamiglia, Giacomo de Giorgi, and Ece Yagman

Data collection completed. Analysis stage.

It is widely recognized that social and personal skills (i.e., perseverance, motivation, teamwork, etc.) are highly predictive of life achievements and long-term well-being, such as lower levels of school dropout, physical and mental health issues, and conflict. It is also well established that a comprehensive integration of these non-cognitive skills in the educational curriculum is essential to make lifetime progress. The objective of this trial is to test the causal impact of training and mentoring teachers to integrate formative assessment of socioemotional skills in the classroom with the help of digital tools on students’ academic and non-cognitive outcomes. Formative assessment implemented by the trained teachers involves the observation, recording, and provision of feedback on a specific set of behaviors, the so-called Pentabilities, that characterize socioemotional skills in active classroom environments. The teachers are given 5-6 months to implement the intervention. The trial involves 40 Catalan secondary schools that mainly serve at-risk populations.

Improving Labor Market Matching through Soft Skills Development in Technical Education

with Emily Beam, Ricardo Dahis, and Ursula Mello

Full RCT funded. Piloting stage. 

This project addresses the challenge of integrating soft skills into Technical Vocational and Education Training (TVET) programs to improve youth employability and labor market matching in industrial occupations. In partnership with SENAI, Brazil's largest TVET provider, we aim to understand whether technology can enhance the scalability of soft skills development. The intervention is a novel methodology targeting soft skills through behavior-based assessment and feedback provision with the help of digital tools.