Journal of Health Economics, Volume 80, December 2021, 102538

Abstract: Recent research in the U.S. links trade-induced job displacement to deaths of despair. Should we expect the same mortality response in developing countries? This paper analyzes the effect of a trade-induced negative shock to manufacturing employment on leading causes of mortality in Mexico between 1998 and 2013. I exploit cross-municipality variation in trade exposure based on differences in industry specialization before China's accession to the WTO in 2001 to identify labor-demand shocks that are concentrated in manufacturing. I find trade-induced job loss increased mortality from diabetes, raised obesity rates, reduced physical activity, and lowered access to health insurance. These deaths were offset by declines in mortality from ischemic heart disease and chronic pulmonary disease. These findings highlight that negative employment shocks have heterogeneous impacts on mortality in developing countries, where falling incomes lead to less access to health care and nutritious food, but also reduce alcohol and tobacco use.


Working Papers

Abstract: This paper investigates whether flexible pay increases the wage costs of job displacement. We use quasi-exogenous variation in the timing of job loss due to mass layoffs spanning over an institutional reform that restricted single-employer bargaining, the Belgian Wage Norm in 1996. We find that average earnings losses over a ten-year period after displacement are 10 percentage points larger under flexible pay. Workers displaced from jobs with higher employer-specific wage premium—service sector and white-collar—benefit the most from restricted single-employer bargaining as their earnings fully converge to non-displaced workers' earnings within three years. We show that the differences in earnings losses across wage-setting systems are not driven by fluctuations in the business cycle. Finally, the wage-setting reform had similar effects on female workers, though it did not narrow the gender gap in pre-layoff wages. Our results suggest that reduced pay flexibility may help displaced workers catch up faster to non-displaced workers' pay premium ladder conditional on re-employment.

[IZA Discussion Paper No. 14942, December 2021]

Revised and resubmitted to The World Bank Economic Review

Abstract: This paper examines the effect of trade-induced changes in Mexican labor demand on population growth and migration responses at the local level. I exploit cross-municipality variation in exposure to a change in trade policy between the U.S. and China that eliminated potential tariff increases on Chinese imports, negatively affecting Mexican manufacturing exports to the U.S.. Municipalities more exposed to the policy change, via their industry structure, experienced greater employment loss. In the five years following the change in trade policy, more exposed municipalities experience increased population growth, driven by declines in out-migration. Conversely, six to ten years after the change in trade policy, exposure to increased trade competition is associated with decreased population growth, driven by declines in in-migration and return migration rates, and increased out-migration. My results provide an insight into trade-induced population adjustments, and have important implications for the interpretation of evidence in the literature on the labor market effects of trade.

Selected Work in Progress

  • The Effect of Work-Related ICT Use at Home on Workers’ Mental Well-Being (with Ilan Tojerow) [Draft coming soon!]

Summary: This project studies the effect of work-related ICT use at home on workers' mental well-being. Our empirical strategy exploits a technological feature of the telecommunication infrastructure that generated substantial variation in the availability and quality of Internet access across Belgian households in the early 2000s: the distance of a household from a network node determined internet access and speed. We merge information about the network topology with geocoded longitudinal data from the Belgian Crossroads Bank for Social Security (CBSS), a rich collection of administrative microdata that collects information on Belgian workers’ labor market trajectories and basic demographics. This project will contribute to a broader understanding of the upward trend in work related illnesses —burnout and chronic stress—and their role in the expansion of disability insurance programs.

I was awarded a Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions Individual Fellowship from the European Comission for this project. [European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme; grant agreement No 101027302].

  • The Effect of Broadband Expansion on Mental Health (with Ilan Tojerow)

Summary: To study how increased connectivity to work affects individuals’ career trajectory and the risk of mental health-related disability, we will merge data on internet expansion and workers' careers with information on reimbursed care and medicines from the Agence InterMutualiste (AIM). This follow-up project will focus on the effect of internet expansion on mental health related outcomes—burnout or stress diagnosis, prescriptions for antidepressant and anti-anxiety medication, access to treatment potentially leading to disability insurance claims. This project will have important health policy implications to counteract the rise in work-related mental health illnesses.

I was awarded a F.R.S-FNRS CR (Chargé de Recherche) postdoctoral grant for this project.

  • Government-Subsidized Household Production Activities and Female Labor Supply (with Agnès Charpin and Ilan Tojerow)

Summary: This project investigates the impact of access to low-cost substitutes for household production on female labor supply. We leverage the Belgian Service Voucher Scheme (SVS), a public policy launched in 2004 to subsidize the purchase of household services. Our empirical approach isolates plausibly exogenous variation in (i) the price women pay to outsource household production generated by the SVS, and (ii) the geographic variation in availability of domestic workers. We combine Belgian administrative data, which allows us to identify SVS workers precisely, with tax records that document the users’ purchases of service vouchers under the SVS. This paper will provide causal evidence linking government-subsidized substitutes for household production services to labor supply decisions made by users of the program. This project aims at improving our understanding of the obstacles that prevent women from providing more labor market work, and the causes of the remaining gender inequalities in the labor market.

This project has received funding from the F.R.S-FNRS PDR (Projet de Recherche); Grant No T.0199.22

Other work

  • Exports, Quality, and Product Differentiation: Evidence from Argentine Manufacturing Firms

Abstract: This paper explores the relationship between quality adoption, product differentiation, and export performance. Through tax identification numbers, I match firm-level survey data to administrative customs records containing information about each firm’s total value of exports by product type and country of destination. I classify products into differentiated and non-differentiated, and I use ISO 9001 certification as proxy for firms' ability to produce high quality products. First, I show that firm-product-destination-year unit values are higher for high-quality firms on average. Second, using the 2002 Argentine exchange rate devaluation as a source of variation in export demand, I find that initially high-quality firms increased total export value, export value of differentiated goods to high-income destinations, and investments in R&D more than low-quality firms after the devaluation. These results imply that policies promoting quality adoption may increase firms’ exports to high-income markets and help develop a comparative advantage in differentiated products.