Rodrigo Azuero
Interests: Applied Microeconomics, Development Economics, Labor Economics, Applied Econometrics

My research fields are applied microeconomics, development economics, labor economics and applied econometrics. My job market paper evaluates the effects of various policy interventions on the gaps in skills between rich and poor children. I estimate a skills production function using a dynamic latent factor structure, nested within a collective model of household behavior. I incorporate particle filtering techniques from financial econometrics in order to estimate this model.

I will be available for interviews a the ASSA meetings in Chicago.

My personal website is:

Job Market Paper

Evaluating Early Childhood Policies: An Estimable Model of Family Child Investments

There is extensive evidence showing that skills developed early in life have important consequences for adult life outcomes. Such findings have motivated a large literature analyzing the production of skills in young children. However, little is known about how families make decisions about investments in their children. In this paper, I estimate a production function of skills in young children, nested within a collective model of household behavior, using data from Chile. The estimated model is used to simulate the effects of various policies aimed at increasing skills of children in disadvantaged households that are popular in developing countries. The data reveals substantial disparities in the skills of poor and rich children when they are five years old. I find that to close this gap in skills, it is more effective to design policies that subsidize the acquisition of skill-enhancing goods for children than policies providing unconditional cash transfers or childcare subsidies.


Schady, N. et al. "Wealth Gradients in Early Childhood Cognitive Development in Five Latin American Countries". Journal of Human Resources, 2015. Vol. 50(2):446-463.

This paper provides new evidence of sharp differences in cognitive development by socioeconomic status in early childhood for five Latin American countries using a common measure of receptive language ability. We find important differences in development in early childhood across countries and steep socioeconomic gradients within every country. For the three countries where we can follow children over time, there are few substantive changes in scores once children enter school. Our results are robust to different ways of defining socioeconomic status, to different ways of standardizing outcomes, and to selective nonresponse on our measure of cognitive development.

The Effects of Student Loans on the Provision and Demand for Higher Education. With David Zarruk.


We characterize the outcomes of the tertiary education market in a context where borrowing constraints bind, there is a two-tier college system operating under monopolistic competition in which colleges diff er by the quality o ffered and returns to education depend on the quality of the school attended. College quality, tuition prices, acceptance cutoff s and education demand are all determined in a general equilibrium model and depend on the borrowing constraints that agents face. Our main finding shows that subsidized student loan policies lead to a widening gap in the quality of services provided by higher education institutions. This happens because the demand for elite institutions unambiguously increases when individuals can borrow. This does not happen in non-elite institutions, since relaxing borrowing constraints makes some individuals move from non-elite to elite institutions. The higher increase in demand for elite institutions allows them to increase prices and investment per student. If investment and average student ability are complementary inputs in the quality production function, elite universities also increase their acceptance cut-o s. In this new equilibrium, the di fferentiation of the product o ffered by colleges increases, where elite universities provide higher quality education to high-ability students and non-elite universities o er lower quality to less-able students. We calibrate the model to Colombia, which implemented massive student loan policies during the last decade and experienced an increase in the gap of quality of education provided by elite and non-elite universities. We show that the increase in the quality gap can be a by-product of the subsidized loan policies. Such results show that, when analyzed in a general equilibrium setting, subsidized loan policies can have negative e ffects in equilibrium.

The Role of Executive Function in the Process of Skills Formation. With Norbert Schady & YyannĂș Cruz. (Work in Progress).

The skill formation process in children has been extensively analyzed in Economics. A widely accepted distinction in skills is made between cognitive ones, related to learning and problem solving, and non-cognitive ones, related to behavior, motivation and regulation of emotions. Partly because of data limitations, the literature has ignored the potential role of executive functions in the skills formation process. Executive functions are processes related to cognitive flexibility, attentional control and inhibitory control, among others, that cannot be categorized as cognitive or non-cognitive skills. We use a sample of approximately 24,000 children

Teaching Experience

Lecturer at University of Pennsylvania: Statistics for Economists (Summer 2015).

Lecturer at Universidad de los Andes: Stata Workshop (Spring 2009).

Teaching Assistant at University of Pennsylvania: Statistics for Economists (Fall 2014, Spring 2015, Spring 2016, Fall 2016). Introduction to Microeconomics (Spring 2014). Intermediate Microeconomics (Fall 2013)

Teaching Assistant at Universidad de los Andes: Differential Calculus (Spring 2007). Integral Calculus (Fall 2007). Game Theory (Fall 2007). Statistics (Fall 2008). Impact Evaluation Techniques in Economics (Spring 2009). Microeconomics III (Spring 2009).

Teaching Assistant at Universidad Externado de Colombia: Mathematics for Law (2006-2008).



Presentations: EMCON (Northwestern University, 2016). ECONCON (University of Pennsylvania, 2015). Workshop on Early Childhood Development (Universidad Catolica de Chile, 2015). LACEA (Santa Cruz de la Sierra, 2015). 

Awards and Fellowships:

Judith Rodin Fellow (2016). University of Pennsylvania. Fellowship to students committed to Nation Building.

Penn Institute for Economic Research (2015). Matching Grant for Research Assistantship.

University of Pennsylvania Fellowship (2012).

Cum Laude degree (2009). Universidad de los Andes. Degree awarded to students who graduate with a GPA in the top 3% of the last 5 years

Programming Skills:

C++, CUDA, OPENMP, Fortran, R, Python, Julia, Stata, Matlab


Spanish (Native). English (Fluent). French (Advanced).

Scientific Software:

gmapsdistance: R package that uses the  Google Maps Distance Matrix API to compute the distance and travel time between multiple points. If you want to perform a large number of queries, you will need an  API key  and you need to enable the Distance Matrix API in the Google Developers Console

RtauchenR package to discretize an AR(1) process follwing Tauchen (1986)

Maximum Likelihood Estimation with GPU


Prof. Petra Todd

Prof. Jere Behrman

Prof. Andrew Shephard

Prof. Francis DiTraglia (Teaching Reference)


I am on the job market and will be available for interviews at the AEA meetings in Chicago from Jan 6 to Jan 8.