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Aiming higher: The spillover effects of affirmative action in higher education.
ABSTRACT: Institution-specific affirmative action programs aim to reduce gaps in educational attainment across social groups. However, there is little evidence on whether institution-specific programs increase overall minority enrollment, or whether students who enroll at one sponsoring institution simply substitute away from other universities of equal quality. I exploit the roll-out of a large affirmative-action program to measure the overall effect of institution-specific affirmative action on educational outcomes for low-income students. Using administrative data on applications and enrollment, I estimate the spillover effects of a program sponsored by an elite French college. For each student that enrolled at the sponsoring institution as a result of the program, two additional students enrolled at another elite college. These spillovers are driven by increases in students' applications to selective colleges. I rule out fixed costs in college applications as an explanation for this phenomenon. Instead, I suggest that students hold incorrect beliefs about their academic ability and chances of admission at selective universities, and that the affirmative action program corrected these beliefs upward.
Parent-bias (with Guilherme Lichand).
ABSTRACT: Quasi-geometric discounting generates a gap between present plans and future consumption levels. In this paper, we document that a different gap systematically arises for a relevant fraction of parents: that between present plans and future consumption shares allocated to children. Present-bias cannot explain this gap. Rather, asymmetric geometric discounting of parents’ future utility of consumption and that of their children are consistent with this pattern. This generates sizable preference reversals every period, a phenomenon we denote parent-bias . Commitment devices designed for present-bias do not mitigate parent-bias; in turn, we show that, different from present-biased subjects, asymmetric geometric discounters demand more commitment to future plans. Our findings provide a new explanation for under-investment and inform a range of new instruments to address it – from school meals to earmarked savings accounts.


Boosting patience for poverty reduction: A field experiment in Malawi.
ABSTRACT:  Is it possible to develop patience in mothers? If so, how does that translate to investments in children? I run a large randomized-control-trial with 2,413 mothers in Malawi to answer those questions. In collaboration with a Malawian NGO, I designed two sets of workshops to increase the participants' future-orientation, through a mixture of visualization and goal-setting exercises. One set of workshops focuses on boosting mothers’ future-orientation towards their own consumption and one focuses on their children’s consumption.
Status: Intervention and endline data collection completed.
The political economy of school building (with Ursina Schaede)
ABSTRACT:  Do electoral concerns influence school locations? In the mid-1980s, the French government decided that 80% of a birth cohort should complete high school (up from about 60% at the time) and delegated the responsibility to build high schools to 23 regional governments. Within fifteen years, the regions built 250 new high schools. This project investigates whether the high schools were built optimally and the medium-run consequences of the high school location decisions on educational outcomes. As regional governments are democratically elected, we first test whether municipalities that voted in favor of the regional government were more likely to receive a high school. Using a simple model of optimal school location, we test whether this policy lead to sub-optimal allocation of resources. We look at how high school placement affected students’ high school and college attendance, with a particular focus on low-income students and municipalities with large immigrant communities.
Can providing mental health support bridge the socio-economic gap in educational achievement?

Juliette Thibaud