''E-learning Engagement Gap During School Closures: Differences by Academic Performance" with Alaitz Ayarza-Astigarraga and Marta C. Lopes

Applied Economics, Vol. 56 (3): 337-359.

We study the impact of COVID-19 school closures on differences in online learning usage by regional academic performance. Using data from Google Trends in Italy, we find that during the first lockdown, regions with a previously lower academic performance increased their searches for e-learning tools more than higher-performing regions. Analysing school administrative and survey data before the pandemic, we find that both teachers and students in lower-performing regions were using no fewer e-learning tools than higher-performing ones. These two findings suggest that the COVID-19 shock widened the e-learning usage gap between academically lower and higher-performing regions. Exploiting the regional variation in school closure mandates during the 2020-2021 academic year, we report that the patterns detected after the first lockdown were no longer present. Regions with different previous academic performance had the same response in terms of online learning usage when faced with stricter school closures.

Working Papers

"Reverse Revolving Doors: The Influence of Interest Groups on Legislative Voting" with Miguel Alquézar-Yus

[Coverage: ProMarket]

This paper investigates to which extent legislators with a background in an interest group (i.e., reverse revolvers) influence other legislators’ voting behavior. To answer this question, we collect novel data containing the universe of votes cast at the European Parliament between 2004 and 2019 and characterize legislators by their former working experience. Using the alphabetic allocation of seats, we find that seating beside reverse revolvers when the motion is relevant to their former interest groups increases co-voting by 2.4%, attendance by 1.3%, and decreases abstention by 9%. We find no influence on non-relevant ballots. These effects are driven by budget-related motions and interest groups with limited lobbying spending. Our results show that the revolving doors influence the political process when working in reverse.

"Gender Differences in Early Occupational Choices: Evidence from Medical Specialty Selection" with Agnès Charpin, Noémi Berlin, Magali Dumontet [SSRN]

This paper analyses gender differences in occupational choices in a setting in which observed matches are solely determined by supply-side factors: the French centralised medical residency selection mechanism. We show that men and women facing the same occupational choice set make drastically different occupational choices. Medical specialties selected by women pay less, have lower time requirements, and are less competitive. To understand these differences and estimate how much of the gender gap in specialty sorting can be explained by individual preferences for job attributes, we administer a survey to prospective medical residents just before their specialty choice. Using both a hypothetical job choice framework and stated preferences, we show that while “hard” job characteristics (earnings, time requirements) only slightly reduce the gender gap in sorting, “soft” characteristics (daily tasks, contact with patients, willingness to help others) play a larger role in reducing the gap. We also find suggestive evidence of an anticipation effect of fertility on women’s career choices. Our results suggest that individual preferences play a determinant role in explaining gender-based occupational segregation.

Work in Progress

"The Effect of School Closures on Students' Academic Performance" with Sara Flisi

This paper studies the short and medium-term effects of COVID-19-induced online learning on academic performance in Italy, isolating it from the overall effect of the pandemic. Most related studies rely on comparing the academic performance of a pre and a post-COVID cohort to estimate the overall effect of the pandemic. Using repeated cross-sections of coexisting students differently exposed to online learning we isolate the effect of online learning from the rest of the side effects of the pandemic. Using the student population performance in a standardized test, we implement a DD strategy comparing grade 13 (age 19) and grade 8 (age 14) students before and after the introduction of the online learning mandates. We further complement this analysis by estimating a triple-DD model exploiting across-region variation of online learning exposure generated by the local spread of the virus. Students who followed their lessons online in 2020/21 suffered considerable learning losses in 2021 and 2022, which increased further in 2023. Learning losses are larger in reading than in mathematics. Important differences emerge when looking into sub-groups: on average, girls do better than boys; those from the highest ESCS quartile suffered the most in 2021, but recovered from 2022 onwards; no significant difference is detected in 2021 between natives and non-natives.

"The Effects of Temporary Confiscation of Vacant Housing" with Lorenzo Neri