Brazil in the ‘AEJ: Applied’

The October 2017 issue of the American Economic Journal: Applied Economics includes three articles with Brazilian data. Here are their abstracts.

“The Use of Violence in Illegal Markets: Evidence from Mahogany Trade in the Brazilian Amazon”
Ariaster B. Chimeli, Rodrigo R. Soares

We provide evidence on the effect of market illegality on violence. Brazil was historically the main exporter of mahogany. Starting in the 1990s, trade was restricted and eventually prohibited. We build on previous evidence that mahogany trade persisted after prohibition and document relative increases in violence in areas with natural occurrence of mahogany. We show that as illegal activity receded in the late 2000s so did the relative increase in violence. We describe an experience of increase in violence following the transition of a market from legal to illegal and contribute to the evaluation of prohibition policies under limited enforcement.

“Human Capital Persistence and Development”
Rudi Rocha, Claudio Ferraz, Rodrigo R. Soares

This paper documents the persistence of human capital over time and its association with long-term development. We exploit variation induced by a state-sponsored settlement policy that attracted immigrants with higher levels of schooling to particular regions of Brazil in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. We show that one century after the policy, municipalities that received settlements had higher levels of schooling and higher income per capita. We provide evidence that long-run effects worked through higher supply of educational inputs and shifts in the structure of occupations toward skill-intensive sectors.

“Persuasion: A Case Study of Papal Influences on Fertility-Related Beliefs and Behavior”
Vittorio Bassi, Imran Rasul

We study the persuasive impacts of non-informative communication on the short-run beliefs and long-run behavior of individuals. We do so in the context of the Papal visit to Brazil in October 1991, in which persuasive messages related to fertility were salient in Papal speeches during the visit. We use individual’s exposure to such messages to measure how persuasion shifts short-run beliefs such as intentions to contracept and long-term fertility outcomes such as the timing and total number of births. To measure the short-run causal impact of persuasion, we exploit the fact the Brazil 1991 DHS was fielded in the weeks before, during, and after the Papal visit. We use this fortuitous timing to identify that persuasion significantly reduced individual intentions to contracept by more than 40 percent relative to pre-visit levels, and increased the frequency of unprotected sex by 30 percent. We measure the long-run causal impacts of persuasion on fertility outcomes using later DHS surveys to conduct an event study analysis on births in a five-year window on either side of the 1991 Papal visit. Estimating a hazard model of fertility, we find a significant change in births 9 months post-visit, corresponding to a 1.6 percent increase in the aggregate birth cohort. Our final set of results examine the very long-run impact of persuasion and document the impacts to be on the timing of births rather than on total fertility.

(Via Claudio Ferraz.)

Redução da taxa de homicídio em São Paulo alimenta jornalismo chapa-branca

Caiu a taxa de homicídio em São Paulo. Prato cheio para o jornalismo chapa-branca de Reinaldo Azevedo.

É impressionante (na verdade, não) como Reinaldo aplica o velho “dois pesos, duas medidas” quando se trata de PT e PSDB.

Em novembro do ano passado, por exemplo, quando foi divulgada a redução do número de mortes no trânsito de São Paulo, ele fez alguns questionamentos válidos, tratando com ceticismo as falas de Fernando Haddad. Lógico, como de praxe, avançou o sinal e partiu para conclusões precipitadas e preconceituosas. Mas o fato é que os questionamentos eram válidos.

Agora, praticamente age como assessor de imprensa do estado e publica um post com tom de press release. Reinaldo não apenas deixa de fazer questionamentos como compra com a maior facilidade o argumento do governo de que a redução dos números se deve à eficiência da polícia. Ceticismo zero.

As únicas objeções que faz em seu post são, como não poderia deixar de ser, à “esquerda” e a “petistazinhos escondidos”. Diz ainda que a agropecuária “serviu de âncora” à “distribuição de renda” no Brasil — afirmação para lá de duvidosa, como qualquer coisa que ele diz sobre economia. (Por que insiste tanto em dar pitaco nessa área? Deve ser culpa do Serra. Aliás, o post não deixa de incluir uma defesa básica de Serra. Quando pode falar bem do amigo, Reinaldo o faz. Quando é impossível, fica calado.)

É difícil afirmar, sem estudos e dados, o que realmente motivou a redução de mortes no trânsito e a queda da taxa de homicídios em São Paulo. Precisamos deixar fé, paixão e preconceito de lado ao abordar tais fenômenos. Isso inclui evitar fazer julgamentos rasteiros baseados apenas em preferências político-partidárias.