Essays on environmental economics and human capital

Cunha Carneiro Pinto, Juliana (2021). Essays on environmental economics and human capital. University of Birmingham. Ph.D.

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Chapter 1 - We quantify the impact of two educational policies in Brazilian public schools on (i) scores in the national examination Prova Brasil and (ii) the dropout and pass rates. We construct a unique longitudinal panel at the school level from 2007 to 2015, combining administrative data from several government sources. To identify the causal impacts stemming from the two policies we use Propensity Score Matching with Difference-in-differences (PSM-DID). The results reveal a positive impact of the school entrance age policy on Portuguese and Mathematics scores and on dropout rates; and a negative effect on pass rates. Although our results show a positive impact of automatic promotion on pass rates, we find no evidence that adopting automatic progression boosts the quality of education in Brazil as the dropout rates increased after that policy as well. These outcomes suggest that the two policies by themselves do not improve the quality of education in Brazil.

Chapter 2 - This chapter examines the contemporaneous causal relationship between outdoor air pollution levels and student cognitive performance in Brazil’s nationwide university entrance examinations. Our analysis relies upon a unique and not yet explored student level data set, allowing us to examine the effect of particulate matter (PM10) on students’ scores. To this end for our main specification we construct an individual level panel data for the two days of exams across three years and apply students fixed effects to address endogeneity concerns that arise in our analysis. In addition, we take advantage of plausibly exogenous spatial and temporal variation in PM10 across municipalities in the states of Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo and utilise an instrumental variable approach based on wind direction. Our results suggest that air pollution negatively impacts the cognitive performance of students with boys more affected than girls, and less well-off exam takers at the bottom of the score distribution more affected than their more privileged counterparts. Chapter 3 - We estimate the causal effects of acute fine particulate matter (PM2.5) fetal exposure on Brazilian students’ scores in the fifth grade using the interaction between wind direction and agricultural fires as instrument for air pollution. Our reveals find that an increase of 10% of intrauterine exposure to PM2.5 leads to a decrease of 4.6% in students’ scores in Portuguese and 2.8% Mathematics. Back-of-the-envelope calculations demonstrate that a reduction of 10% of P M2.5 has the potential to increase later life wages by 2.3%.

Type of Work: Thesis (Doctorates > Ph.D.)
Award Type: Doctorates > Ph.D.
Licence: All rights reserved
College/Faculty: Colleges (2008 onwards) > College of Social Sciences
School or Department: Birmingham Business School, Department of Economics
Funders: Other
Other Funders: University of Birmingham
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HB Economic Theory


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