(with B. Bell and S, Machin)

Economic Journal, Vol. 124, Issue 576, pp. 480-506, 2014. Featured in The Guardian and the Financial Times.

Significant riots occurred in London in August 2011. The riots took place in highly localised geographical areas, with crime going up hugely in the affected sub‐wards. The criminal justice response was to make sentencing for rioters much more severe. We show a significant drop in riot crimes across London in the six months after the riots, consistent with a deterrence effect from the tougher sentencing. More evidence of general deterrence comes from the observation that crime also fell in the post‐riot aftermath in areas where rioting did not take place.


(with S. Machin)

IZA Journal of Migration 2013, 2:19.

We study a high profile public policy question on immigration, namely the link between crime and immigration, presenting new evidence from England and Wales in the 2000s. For studying immigration impacts, this period is of considerable interest as the composition of migration altered dramatically with the accession of Eastern European countries (the A8) to the European Union in 2004. As we show, this has important implications for ensuring a causal impact of immigration can be identified. When we are able to implement a credible research design with statistical power, we find no evidence of an average causal impact of immigration on criminal behavior, nor do we when we consider A8 and non-A8 immigration separately. We also study London by itself as the immigration changes in the capital city were very dramatic. Again, we find no causal impact of immigration on crime from our spatial econometric analysis and also present evidence from unique data on arrests of natives and immigrants which shows no immigrant differences in the likelihood of being arrested.


     "the casual effect of compulsory voting laws on turnout:    does skill matter?"

Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization, Vol. 92, August 2013, pp. 79-93

A very important, yet unsettled, question is whether mandatory voting affects political participation. This paper exploits a natural experiment to assess the causal impact of compulsory voting on turnout and, more importantly, to test whether the impact is different across skill groups. I find that compulsory voting increases voter turnout by 18 percentage points (28%) and the increase is twice as much in the unskilled citizens than that in the skilled citizens. This study is the first to show, with rigorous empirical evidence, that compulsory voting laws are effective in reducing the skill/socioeconomic gap in political participation. Furthermore, by shaping the electorate, these laws have relevant consequences in terms of the economic policies applied.


Latin American Economic Review, 2015, 24:13

Latin America and the Caribbean is the most urbanized region in the developing world. Its urbanization rate of almost 80 % is comparable to that of high-income countries. However, cities in the region are struggling to provide the infrastructure needed for their millions of residents to enjoy a decent quality of life. This paper focuses on analyzing three aspects of this challenge. First, it identifies the main problems in housing and transport infrastructure in the region. Second, it examines the effect of past interventions to improve the living standards of the urban poor. And third, it analyzes the relationship between housing supply and transport networks, two connected topics that shape the region’s spatial urban patterns.


"From Cow Sellers to Beef Exporters: The Impact of Traceability on Cattle Farmers"

in: Chong, A. and M. Yanez-Pagans, eds. "Measuring the Impact of Information Technologies in Latin America". Stanford Universit Press and World Bank Press, Washington DC.

In the last decades the developing world experienced a rapid urbanization of the population. Cities were not prepared to meet the needs of the fast and unplanned growing population and in many cities slums emerged. There have been various types of interventions to deal with the slums problem worldwide: from relocation of slum dwellers to integral interventions, consisting of both infrastructure works and social services targeted to poor neighborhoods. This paper analyses the methods that have been used in a number of upgrading programs and detects the gaps in the literature. To make exposition clear, the programs are divided according to their main outcomes of interest: housing, neighborhood and individual. For each group of outcomes an extensive review of the literature is presented. Also methodological issues regarding implementation and identification strategies for the effects of the interventions are assessed. Finally, the document details some relevant indicators for evaluating slum upgrading programs and suggests avenues for future research.