Promoting Venezuelan migrants’ registration to Sisbén – Atlantic Region, Colombia (2022).

This intervention aims to estimate the effectiveness of information to promote migrant registration in the social registry Sisbén and to explore the role of social capital for this purpose. In the first phase of this study, we randomly assign a sample of Venezuelan migrants into a control group and two treatment groups: i) a group that receives information on the process of Sisbén registration via SMS; and ii) a group that receives the same information on Sisbén registration via WhatsApp. In the second phase of the study, which is not an experiment, another group of Venezuelan migrants receives messages via WhatsApp inviting them to inform their friends about Sisbén to motivate registration through “word of mouth”, with the intention to study information diffusion and social capital. We expect the results to shed light on how to eliminate the documented barriers and misinformation that leads to not registering for Sisbén using cost-effective communication methods, and help trace out the importance of social networks among displaced Venezuelans living in Colombia. [Pre-Analysis Plan]

Are we accurately quantifying the LGBT population from household survey data? – Bogotá, Colombia (2022).

Household surveys have advanced considerably in the past few years with respect to inclusion and diversity.  Identifying who belongs to the LGBT community is essential to understand what inequalities and discrimination they may face. However, household surveys ask direct questions to survey respondents about their gender identity and sexual orientation, which has been shown to generate systematic underreporting of the true size of the LGBT population. Together with Centro Nacional de Consultoría (CNC), we conducted a survey list experiment with a representative sample of 2,000 adults aged 18+ in Bogotá to approximate the true size of the LGBT population and propose how to accurately measure this group in future data collection exercises. This research was supported by the Inter-American Development Bank’s Gender and Diversity Knowledge Initiative (GDLab).

Building trust among caregivers through an SMS intervention to encourage attendance to early childhood services – Colombia (2021).

This intervention aims to determine whether SMS messages can encourage caregivers of young children (aged five or less) to increase their trust and use of in-person early childhood services provided by the Colombian Institute for Family Welfare (Instituto Colombiano de Bienestar Familiar – ICBF). For this randomized controlled trial, 719 ICBF service units nationwide were randomized into one control and two treatment groups, the first in which caregivers receive text messages designed to combat risk aversion and the second who receive messages that reinforce positive social norms that early childhood education is a civic duty. In total, 15,100 caregivers received 12 SMS messages during October and November 2021. We expect that the new information would help to build trust among caregivers and reduce their cognitive biases regarding the importance of children’s assistance to early childhood services.

What is the state of social protection with respect to internal and externally displaced individuals? – Bogotá and Cúcuta, Colombia (2020-2021).

A team of researchers at the School of Government, in collaboration with the Overseas Development Institute, are studying the situation of internally displaced individuals and Venezuelan migrants in Colombia. Using a mixed methods approach, we collected quantitative and qualitative data in Bogotá and Cúcuta -two cities with a large fraction of internal and externally displaced populations- to better understand the needs of vulnerable hosts and  the displaced, while also exploring how Colombia’s social protection system may more effectively respond to their needs. Our research is based on a 1,500-person survey and qualitative data: 18 in-depth interviews, 12 focus groups, and 23 key informant interviews collected using different “socially distant” methods like WhatsApp. 

Does an intervention aimed at bartenders affect alcohol-related violence within and around their establishments? – Bogotá, Colombia (2018).

As part of a public-private partnership between the Secretariat of Coexistence, Justice and Security of Bogotá, Fundación Bavaria, and the School of Government at Universidad de los Andes, we study whether the effectiveness of a program that provides materials and training to bartenders. The intervention was designed to achieve two objectives: i) provide bartenders with standardized practices that promote responsible alcohol consumption among their patrons, and ii) give information and strategies to bartenders on how to defuse conflicts that may result in alcohol-related incidents within and around their bars. Click here for the report (in Spanish) and the working paper.

How does information on the net benefits of college affect the demand for higher education in a developing country? – Bogotá, Colombia (2013).

Leonardo Bonilla, Nicolas Bottan, and I received a research grant from the Department of Economics at the University of Illinois to study whether providing information on the benefits and costs of college to Colombian students affects their higher education enrollment choices. Recent research has shown that imperfect information and incorrect beliefs may affect how individuals make educational choices, especially among the poor. We test the relevance of this problem for public school students deciding whether to attend college in Bogotá, Colombia. Click here for the published article or working paper.