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Open Access Publications from the University of California

This series is automatically populated with publications deposited by UC Merced Department of Economics researchers in accordance with the University of California’s open access policies. For more information see Open Access Policy Deposits and the UC Publication Management System.

Cover page of Head Start Funding Expansions and Program Inputs

Head Start Funding Expansions and Program Inputs


This paper provides some of the first evidence on the relationship between Head Start funding expansions and program inputs. We take advantage of the county–year variation in funding increases that were implemented due to a number of legislated policy changes in the late 1980s and throughout the 1990s. By focusing on the period between 1988 and 2007, we show that the funding increases were directed at increasing total and full-time enrollment. We also show that the funding expansions were used to make several quality-related investments, including increasing the number of teachers and staff and upgrading the skill level of teachers.

Cover page of Safe-zone schools and the academic performance of children in mixed-status households: Evidence from the between the lines study.

Safe-zone schools and the academic performance of children in mixed-status households: Evidence from the between the lines study.


In response to the intensification of immigration enforcement in the interior of the USA, some school districts have implemented safe-zone policies to protect students academic progression and well-being. Using primary data from a sample of US-born children of unauthorized migrants, we document the detrimental effect of stricter immigration enforcement on childrens educational outcomes and the benefits of safe-zone policies. Our analyses show that restricting immigration authorities access to schools and providing counseling on immigration-related issues are crucial policy components in strengthening childrens focus, effort, expectations, parental involvement, and relationships. These findings highlight the damaging impact of immigration enforcement on US-citizen children in mixed-status households and advance our understanding of the role of local policies in mitigating these effects.

Cover page of Schooling and Parental Labor Supply: Evidence from COVID-19 School Closures in the United States

Schooling and Parental Labor Supply: Evidence from COVID-19 School Closures in the United States


This article examines changes in parental labor supply in response to the unanticipated closure of schools following the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in the United States. The authors collect detailed daily information on school closures at the school-district level, which they merge to individual-level data on labor supply and sociodemographic characteristics from the monthly Current Population Survey spanning from January 2019 through May 2020. Using a difference-in-differences estimation approach, the authors find evidence of non-negligible labor supply reductions. Having a partner at home helped offset the negative effect of school closures, particularly for maternal employment, although respondents' job traits played a more significant role in shaping labor supply responses to school closures. Overall, the labor supply impacts of school closures prove robust to identification checks and to controlling for other coexistent social distancing measures. In addition, these early school closures seem to have had a long-lasting negative impact on parental labor supply.

Cover page of The next phases of the Migrante Project: Study protocol to expand an observatory of migrant health on the Mexico—U.S. border

The next phases of the Migrante Project: Study protocol to expand an observatory of migrant health on the Mexico—U.S. border



Mexican migrants traveling across the Mexico-United States (U.S.) border region represent a large, highly mobile, and socially vulnerable subset of Mexican nationals. Population-level health data for this group is hard to obtain given their geographic dispersion, mobility, and largely unauthorized status in the U.S. Over the last 14 years, the Migrante Project has implemented a unique migration framework and novel methodological approach to generate population-level estimates of disease burden and healthcare access for migrants traversing the Mexico-U.S. border. This paper describes the rationale and history of the Migrante Project and the protocol for the next phases of the project.


In the next phases, two probability, face-to-face surveys of Mexican migrant flows will be conducted at key crossing points in Tijuana, Ciudad Juarez, and Matamoros (N = 1,200 each). Both survey waves will obtain data on demographics, migration history, health status, health care access, COVID-19 history, and from biometric tests. In addition, the first survey will focus on non-communicable disease (NCD), while the second will dive deeper into mental health and substance use. The project will also pilot test the feasibility of a longitudinal dimension with 90 survey respondents that will be re-interviewed by phone 6 months after completing the face-to-face baseline survey.


Interview and biometric data from the Migrante project will help to characterize health care access and health status and identify variations in NCD-related outcomes, mental health, and substance use across migration phases. The results will also set the basis for a future longitudinal extension of this migrant health observatory. Analyses of previous Migrante data, paired with data from these upcoming phases, can shed light on the impact of health care and immigration policies on migrants' health and inform policy and programmatic responses to improve migrant health in sending, transit, and receiving communities.

Cover page of Timing of social distancing policies and COVID-19 mortality: county-level evidence from the U.S.

Timing of social distancing policies and COVID-19 mortality: county-level evidence from the U.S.


Using county-level data on COVID-19 mortality and infections, along with county-level information on the adoption of non-pharmaceutical interventions (NPIs), we examine how the speed of NPI adoption affected COVID-19 mortality in the United States. Our estimates suggest that adopting safer-at-home orders or non-essential business closures 1 day before infections double can curtail the COVID-19 death rate by 1.9%. This finding proves robust to alternative measures of NPI adoption speed, model specifications that control for testing, other NPIs, and mobility and across various samples (national, the Northeast, excluding New York, and excluding the Northeast). We also find that the adoption speed of NPIs is associated with lower infections and is unrelated to non-COVID deaths, suggesting these measures slowed contagion. Finally, NPI adoption speed appears to have been less effective in Republican counties, suggesting that political ideology might have compromised their efficacy.

Cover page of Early adoption of non-pharmaceutical interventions and COVID-19 mortality

Early adoption of non-pharmaceutical interventions and COVID-19 mortality


To contain the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic, many countries around the globe have adopted social distancing measures. Yet, establishing the causal effect of non-pharmaceutical interventions (NPIs) is difficult because they do not occur arbitrarily. We exploit a quasi-random source of variation for identification purposes -namely, regional differences in the placement on the pandemic curve following an unexpected and nationwide lockdown. Our results reveal that regions where the outbreak had just started when the lockdown was implemented had 1.62 fewer daily deaths per 100,000 inhabitants when compared to regions for which the lockdown arrived 10+ days after the pandemic's outbreak. As a result, a total of 4,642 total deaths (232 deaths/daily) could have been avoided by the end of our period of study -a figure representing 23% of registered deaths in Spain at the time. We rule out differential pre-COVID mortality trends and self-distancing behaviors across the compared regions prior to the swift lockdown, which was also uniformly observed nationwide. In addition, we provide supporting evidence for contagion deceleration as the main mechanism behind the effectiveness of the early adoption of NPIs in lowering the death rate, rather than an increased healthcare capacity.

Cover page of How Do Travel Costs Shape Collaboration?

How Do Travel Costs Shape Collaboration?


We develop a simple theoretical framework for thinking about how geographic frictions, and in particular travel costs, shape scientists’ collaboration decisions and the types of projects that are developed locally versus over distance. We then take advantage of a quasi-experiment—the introduction of new routes by a low-cost airline—to test the predictions of the theory. Results show that travel costs constitute an important friction to collaboration: after a low-cost airline enters, the number of collaborations increases between 0.3 and 1.1 times, a result that is robust to multiple falsification tests and causal in nature. The reduction in geographic frictions is particularly beneficial for high-quality scientists that are otherwise embedded in worse local environments. Consistent with the theory, lower travel costs also endogenously change the types of projects scientists engage in at different levels of distance. After the shock, we observe an increase in higher-quality and novel projects, as well as projects that take advantage of complementary knowledge and skills between subfields, and that rely on specialized equipment. We test the generalizability of our findings from chemistry to a broader data set of scientific publications and to a different field where specialized equipment is less likely to be relevant, mathematics. Last, we discuss implications for the formation of collaborative research and development teams over distance. This paper was accepted by Toby Stuart, entrepreneurship and innovation.

Cover page of Health Profile and Health Care Access of Mexican Migration Flows Traversing the Northern Border of Mexico

Health Profile and Health Care Access of Mexican Migration Flows Traversing the Northern Border of Mexico



The health of Latino migrants is most often studied with samples of immigrants settled in the United States or returned migrants in Mexico. We examine health outcomes and health care access of Mexican migrants traversing the Mexican border region to gain a better understanding of migrant health needs as they transition between migration phases.


We used data from a 2013 probability survey of migrants from Northbound and Southbound migration flows in Tijuana, Mexico (N=2412). Respondents included Northbound migrants with and without US migration experience, Southbound migrants returning home from the United States or the Mexican border region, and migrants returning to Mexico via deportation. Descriptive statistics and regression models were estimated to characterize and compare their health status, behavioral health, and health care access across migration phases.


Northbound migrants with US migration experience, Southbound migrants from the United States, and deported migrants had worse levels of health insurance, health care utilization, and diabetes than Northbound migrants without US migration experience. Southbound migrants returning from the border reported worse self-rated health and deportees had higher odds of reported substance use compared with Northbound migrants without US migration experience.


Mexican migrants' health profile and health care access vary significantly across migration flows and generally are worse for migrants with US migration experience. The results add to our understanding of Mexican migrant health along the migration continuum and can inform services in sending, receiving, and intermediate communities.