Felipe Valencia Caicedo

Assistant Professor

My research lies at the intersection of Development Economics, Economic History and Economic Growth. I am particularly interested in economic persistence with an emphasis on Latin America. I obtained my PhD from Universitat Pompeu Fabra and the European Doctoral Program in 2015.

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PUBLICATIONS

This article examines the long-term consequences of a historical human capital intervention. The Jesuit order founded religious missions amongst the Guarani, in modern-day Argentina, Brazil, and Paraguay. Before their expulsion in 1767, missionaries instructed indigenous inhabitants in reading, writing and various crafts. Using archival records, individual and municipal data, I show that educational attainment was and remains higher (by 10-15%) 250 years later in areas of former Jesuit presence. These educational dierences have also translated into 10% higher incomes today. The positive eect of Jesuit missions emerges after comparing them with abandoned Jesuit missions and Franciscan Guarani missions. The enduring effects observed are consistent with transmission mechanisms of occupational persistence and technology adoption in agriculture.
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Using newly collected subnational data, this article establishes the within-country persistence of economic activity in the New World over the last half millennium, a period including the trauma of European colonisation, the drastic reduction of native populations and the imposition of potentially growth inhibiting institutions. High pre-colonial density areas tend to be denser today due to locational fundamentals and agglomeration effects: colonialists established settlements near existing native populations for reasons of labour, trade, knowledge and defence. These areas, identified with pre-colonial prosperity, also tend to have higher incomes today suggesting that at the subnational level, fortune persists.
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WORKING PAPERS

This paper offers the first systematic historical evidence on the role of a central actor in modern growth theory - the engineer. It collects cross-country and state level data on the labor share of engineers for the Americas, and county level data on engineering and patenting for the US during the Second Industrial Revolution. These are robustly correlated with income today after controlling for literacy, other types of higher order human capital (e.g. lawyers, physicians), demand side factors, and after instrumenting engineering using the Land Grant Colleges program. A one standard deviation increase in engineers in 1880 accounts for a 16% increase in US county income today, and patenting capacity contributes another 10%. We further show engineering density supported technological adoption and structural transformation across intermediate time periods. Our estimates help explain why countries with similar levels of income in 1900, but tenfold differences in engineers diverged in their growth trajectories over the next century. The results are supported by historical case studies from the US and Latin America.
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Skewed sex ratios often result from conflict, disease, and migration, yet their long term impact remains less understood. The War of the Triple Alliance (1864-1870) in South America killed up to 70% of the Paraguayan male population. According to Paraguayan national lore, the skewed sex ratios resulting from the confliict are the cause of present-day low marriage rates, high rates of out-of-wedlock births and a generally male chauvinist culture. We collate historical and modern data to test this conventional wisdom in the short and the long run. We examine both cross-border and within-country variation in child-rearing, education and labor force participation in Paraguay over a 150 year period. We find that more skewed post-war sex ratios are associated with higher out-of-wedlock births, more female-headed households, and better female educational outcomes, even after the first returned to normal. Cross-country comparisons suggest that Paraguayan women are less likely to be employed than those in neighboring districts in Argentina and Brazil, but that within Paraguay, they are more likely to be employed where the sex ratio shock was more severe. The impacts of the war persist into the present, and are seemingly unaffected by variation in economic openness, uncertainty, or traditional norms.
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The Spanish Civil War (1936-1939) was one of the most devastating conflicts of the twentieth century, yet little is known about its long-term legacy. We show that the war had a long-lasting effect on social capital, voting behavior and collective memory. To this end we use geo-located data on historical mass graves, disaggregated modern-day survey data on trust, combined with modern electoral results. For econometric identification, we exploit deviations from the initial military plans of attack, using the historical (1931) highway network. We also employ a geographical Regression Discontinuity Design along the Aragon Front. Our results show a significant, negative and sizable relationship between political violence and generalized trust. We further scrutinize the trust results, finding negative effects of conflict on trust in institutions associated with the Civil War, but no effects when looking at trust on Post 1975 democratic institutions. We also find long-lasting results on voting during the Democratic Period (1977-2016), corresponding to the sided political repression implemented in the Aragon region. In terms of mechanisms-using a specialized survey on the Civil War, street names data and Francoist newsreels about the war-we find lower levels of political engagement and differential patterns of collective memory about this traumatic historical event.
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As part of its Cold War counterinsurgency operations in Southeast Asia, the U.S. government conducted a "Secret War" in Laos from 1964-1973. This war constituted one of the most intensive bombing campaigns in human history. As a result, Laos is now severely contaminated with UXO (Unexploded Ordnance) and remains one of the poorest countries in the world. In this paper we document the negative long-term impact of conflict on economic development, using highly disaggregated and newly available data on bombing campaigns, satellite imagery and development outcomes. We find a negative, significant and economically meaningful impact of bombings on nighttime lights, expenditures and poverty rates. Almost 50 years after the conflict officially ended, bombed regions are poorer today and are growing at slower rates than unbombed areas. A one standard deviation increase in the total pounds of bombs dropped is associated with a 9.3% fall in GDP per capita. To deal with the potential endogeneity of bombing, we use as instruments the distance to the Vietnamese Ho Chi Minh Trail as well as US military airbases outside Laos. Using census data at the village and individual levels, we show the deleterious impact of UXOs in terms of health, as well as education, structural transformation and rural-urban migration.

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Winter 2020

ECON441 The Process of Economic Development Sections

Industrialization of an agrarian economy; how the West grew rich; history of Japanese development; technical progress and growth; evolution of the patterns of income distribution; role of international trade in development; environment and development.

Winter 2020

ECON490 Seminar in Applied Economics Sections

Selected problems and issues in the theory and practice of Economics. Each section will focus on a different field. Restricted to Economics Majors, and Combined Majors in Economics their final academic session.

Winter 2020

ECON531 Economic History of Modern Europe Sections