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Essays in applied microeconomics

Grant number: 19/25473-5
Support type:Scholarships in Brazil - Doctorate
Effective date (Start): June 01, 2020
Effective date (End): February 28, 2022
Field of knowledge:Applied Social Sciences - Economics
Principal researcher:Bruno Ferman
Grantee:Luiz Felipe Fontes
Home Institution: Escola de Economia de São Paulo (EESP). Fundação Getúlio Vargas (FGV). São Paulo , SP, Brazil

Abstract

This doctoral dissertation is comprised of three separate essays. The first essay tests a channel that could explain part of the association between some non-cognitive characteristics and educational attainment: teachers' assessment practices that unequally evaluate students on the basis of their classroom behavior rather than their scholastic competence. Evidence is drawn from a unique dataset on middle- and high-school students in Brazilian private schools. Our main empirical strategy is based on the contrast between teacher-assigned and blindly-assigned scores on achievement tests that are high-stakes and cover the same material. Using detailed data on student classroom behavior and holding constant the performance on exams graded blindly, evidence indicates that teachers inflate test scores of better-behaved students, and deduct points from worse-behaved ones. We also find that, conditional on end-of-year grade, the teachers' decision to approve pupils that are below the passing cutoff grade is influenced by how these students behave in class. Rough calculations suggest that this grading behavior may significantly change the proportion of students failing the school year depending on their classroom attitudes. The second essay studies the Brazilian psychiatric reform, which reorganized mental healthcare provision by the public system building a network of community-based services centered on the Psychosocial Care Centers (CAPS). Our research design exploits the roll-out of CAPS in a differences-in-differences framework. We show that these centers improved outpatient mental healthcare utilization and reduced hospital admissions due to mental and behavioral disorders. Those reductions were more pronounced for long-stay admissions and among patients with schizophrenia. Additionally, centers delivering substance abuse treatment reduced deaths caused by alcoholic liver disease. Finally, we also find that this shift away from inpatient care increased homicides. The third essay answers the following question: does Science politicization affect trust in Science, willingness to adopt scientific recommendations (such as vaccination), and support scientific developments? We study this in the context of the current pandemic, using an online survey experiment with a representative sample of Brazil and incentivized behavioral measures. We will test if, when a scientific institution discredits a political party or politician, this dampens trust in Science among political followers and enhances it among opponents. Second, we will test if the crediting of a party leader by Science triggers a similar reaction. Incentivized behavioral measures will help to understand if these effects could translate into policy-relevant behavioral reactions, such as willingness to support Science or to vaccinate, which is a fundamental outcome, not only for the current pandemic, but, more generally, in terms of public health. (AU)

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