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Research Topics


An Audit of Mexico’s Freedom of Information Act
Pocasangre, Oscar; Lagunes, Paul
Working Papers - English - Sep, 2017

Freedom of Information Acts (FOIAs) aim to provide a channeled exchange between citizens and public officials that, irrespective of the citizen’s identity, results in the provision of timely, relevant, and often new information about policy. The authors of this paper evaluated Mexico’s FOIA by submitting 307 information requests on behalf of an average male citizen to government entities in the years 2007, 2013, and 2015. In 2007, the authors also submitted the same requests to 87 comparable entities on behalf of a male citizen who signaled clout. For the most part, entities are not discriminating between regular and seemingly influential citizens. Entities are also answering more frequently and providing more information in 2015 compared to earlier years, but they are taking longer to answer, frequently charging fees, and often failing to provide quality information to questions they are legally bound to answer. Mexico’s FOIA is a functional system demanding significant improvements.

Related JEL Codes:
D73 - Bureaucracy; Administrative Processes in Public Organizations; Corruption

Evaluation of the Finanzas en mi Colegio Pilot Program: Outcomes Report
Frisancho, Veronica
Technical Notes - English - Sep, 2017

This paper explores the potential of financial education programs for kids. We conducted a randomized controlled trial to evaluate the impact of a large-scale pilot program carried out in 150 public high schools, in six regions in Peru. Although the treatment was only moderately intensive, the pilot program was extremely effective: students’ financial literacy improved by 0.14 standard deviations and teachers’ financial literacy improved by 0.30 standard deviations. In addition, students’ self-control improved significantly, leading to better buying habits, greater financial autonomy, and fewer expenditures on unnecessary items. The program’s impact was particularly noticeable in teachers’ saving habits. The share of teachers who save informally increased by 9 percentage points, while the share of those who save formally rose by 14 percentage points. The intervention was also relatively inexpensive, with a cost of only US$6.60 per student.

Related JEL Codes:
D14 - Personal Finance
I21 - Analysis of Education
O12 - Microeconomic Analyses of Economic Development
O16 - Economic Development: Financial Markets; Saving and Capital Investment; Corporate Finance and Governance

IDEA Newsletter Sep. 2017

Newsletter / Journal - English - Sep, 2017

IDEA is the newsletter of the IDB’s Research Department (RES). Every month, it provides information about our upcoming events, latest publications and blog posts, calls for papers, job opportunities, data resources, and more.

IDEA Newsletter Aug. 2017

Newsletter / Journal - English - Aug, 2017

IDEA is the newsletter of the IDB’s Research Department (RES). Every month, it provides information about our upcoming events, latest publications and blog posts, calls for papers, job opportunities, data resources, and more.

Inequality, Crime, and the Long-Run Legacy of Slavery
Vargas, Juan F.; Buonanno, Paolo
Working Papers - English - Apr, 2017

Estimating the effect of inequality on crime is challenging due to reverse causality and omitted variable bias. This paper addresses these concerns by exploiting the fact that, as suggested by recent scholarly research, the legacy of slavery is largely manifested in persistent levels of economic inequality. Municipality-level economic inequality in Colombia is instrumented with a census-based measure of the proportion of slaves before the abolition of slavery in the nineteenth century. It is found that inequality increases both property crime and violent crime. The estimates are robust to including traditional determinants of crime (like population density, proportion of young males, average education level, quality of law enforcement institutions, and overall economic activity), as well as geographic characteristics that may be correlated with both the slave economy and with crime, and current ethnic differences. Policies aiming at reducing structural crime should focus on reducing economic inequality.

Related JEL Codes:
C26 - Instrumental Variables (IV) Estimation
D63 - Equity, Justice, Inequality, and Other Normative Criteria and Measurement
K14 - Criminal Law

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