I am a researcher on urban and real estate economics at Johns Hopkins University. My work focuses on urban dynamics, especially related to housing markets, agglomeration economies and policy-related issues like housing affordability. I also do research on determinants of growth and decline in cities in developed and developing economies. I teach courses on infrastructure development of sustainable cities, real estate and infrastructure finance, and econometrics. I tweet about housing markets, housing policy, urbanization, and methods in @leqonomics.
 
 

I am currently co-organizing the Foundations and Frontiers of Urban Economics workshop that will take place at the 24th Annual LACEA Meeting, Puebla. We will have the amazing Fernando Ferreira, Gilles Duranton, Marco González-Navarro and Esteban Rossi-Hansberg. Join us by RSVPing  here or by writing to urbanlacea@gmail.com 

Academic Seminars and Conferences
  • 2019:

  • 2018:

    • Research seminar Universidad Javeriana, Bogotá.

    • Faculty seminar CESA, Bogotá. 

    • Conferencia de Economía Colombiana, Bogotá.

    • VI Congreso de Economía, Bogotá.

    • 23rd Annual LACEA Meeting, Guayaquil.

    • Latin American Meeting of the Econometric Society (LAMES), Guayaquil.

    • European Meeting of the Urban Economics Association, Dussseldorf. 

    • Federal Reserve Board of Governors seminar, Washington.

    • International Organization of Social Sciences and Behavioral Research, New Orleans.

    • George Washington University, Washington.

    • Federal Reserve Regional Economics Workshop, Baltimore

  • 2017:

    • Richmond Federal Reserve Seminar

    • 12th Meeting of the Urban Economics Association, Vancouver

    • 64th Annual North American Meetings of the Regional Science Association International, Vancouver

    • NBER Summer Institute

    • 1st Workshop on Urban and Regional Economics, Bogotá

    • Annual International Industrial Organization Conference (IIOC)

    • AREUEA Conference

    • European Regional Science Association Conference

    • The World Bank Annual Conference on Development Economics

  • 2016:

    • Spatial Econometrics Advanced Institute, Catholic University of Rome

    • Western Economics Association International (WEAI) Conference Chile

    • Urban Economics Seminar, The New School Milano School of Public Affairs

    • New Developments in the Analysis of Residential Location Choice at Kraks Fond Institute for Urban Economic Research and Department of Transport at the Danish Techincal University.

  • 2015:

    • Research Seminar, University of Southern California

    • Research Seminar, University of Florida

    • Research Seminar, City University of New York

    • Research Seminar, Interamerican Development Bank

    • Research Seminar, Howard University

    • Research Seminar, ITAM Business School seminar

    • CAF Summit

    • Global Real Estate Summit

  • 2014:

    • AREUEA-ASSA Conference.

    • Federal Reserve and UWisconsin Housing-Urban-Labor-Macro (HULM).

    • MOOD - 12th Doctoral Workshop in Economic Theory and Econometrics.

    • ICE - University of Chicago- Argonne Initiative for Computational Economics.
      The Journées Louis-André Gérard-Varet Conference in Public Economics.

 
Education & Affiliations
  • Johns Hopkins University - Assistant Professor

  • Johns Hopkins University - CityLab Research Fellow

  • Kraks Fond Institute for Urban Economic Research- Guest Researcher, 2017.

 

  • Carnegie Mellon University

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Economics, 2014.

Master of Philosophy (M.Phil.) in Economics and Public Policy, 2008.

 

  • Universidad de los Andes

Master of Science (MSc) in Economics, 2008.

Bachelor of Science (BSc) in Economics, Cum Laude, 2007.

Minor in Philosophy, 2007

 
Teaching
  • Johns Hopkins University - Carey School of Business

Real Estate and Infrastructure Finance.

Infrastructure Development for Sustainable Cities (check the course Tableau's site!).

  • Carnegie Mellon University

Regression Analysis.

QSRP (Quantitative Skills Review Program).

Financial Economics (instructor).
 

  • Universidad de los Andes

Economics History (instructor).

Philosophy and Economics (instructor).

Statistics and Probability (instructor).

  • Universidad Externado de Colombia

Game Theory and Probability for Law.

 
Working Papers
 

There is a large and extensive literature examining the strength of agglomeration economies and, more generally,  the determinants of spatial variations in productivity for developed countries. However, the corresponding literature for developing countries is comparatively scant. This paper contributes to filling this knowledge gap by providing estimates for city productivity premiums and different sources of agglomeration effects for 16 countries in the Latin America and Caribbean region. While two of the countries in our sample - Brazil and Colombia -  have been considered by the literature - the remaining 14 countries have not been previously analyzed. We generate these estimates for the region as well as comparable estimates for each individual country using a harmonized data set with characteristics of individual workers and features of the cities in which the workers live. In addition to examining the strength of agglomeration economies, we asses the roles of human capital externalities and market access in explaining sub-national productivity variations. We find that city-wide human capital externalities appear much stronger than agglomeration economies in explaining productivity variation in all of the considered countries.  There is considerable heterogeneity in the estimated strength of human capital externalities across countries, which could be a reflection of country differences in educational quality.

 

We investigate the impact of increasing concentration in local residential construction markets on housing cycle dynamics. We show that the increase in concentration has led to greater unit price volatility, less production, and fewer vacant unsold units. Our results imply that the greater concentration has decreased the annual value of new housing production by $144 billion. Because housing is a determinant of the business cycle these findings provide further evidence that the secular decline in competitive intensity in the American economy is altering macroeconomic dynamics. Previous draft circulated as Market Concentration in Homebuilding. Also see a press release.​

 

 

  • MCMC Approach to Classical Estimation with Overidentifying Restrictions.

I extend the Laplace estimators approach proposed by Chernozhukov and Hong (2003) for an overidentified system by decomposing the m moments into the identifying space and the overidentifying space, and using both to construct a transformed criterion function for a new just-identified system. Parameters and test statistics are estimated simultaneously using the entire equation do- main, not only the global minimum. As in Chernozhukov and Hong (2003), Markov-Chain Monte Carlo (MCMC) avoids the curse of dimensionality in this method. It is also applicable to non-smooth criterion functions. Incorporating the ORs in the objective function amounts to using economic theory as crite- rion for estimate selection when facing multiple local solutions. The proposed estimators outperform counterparts in simulation of an asset-pricing model in Hall and Horowitz (1996).

 

  • Stopping Asset Market Bubbles.

We test a policy that changes the information and payoff structure in a double auction experiment in order to prevent bubbles from forming. This cash out policy gives the investor all his asset holding (game money) and dividends at the end of each transaction period in the form of real cash. This intends to change the reference point and make the investor realize gains or losses as real. The results of the experiments support the hypothesis that, at least partially, the creation of bubbles is affected by mental accounting and framing. These phenomena affect investors’ willingness to hold or demand assets whose prices are unrealistically above its fundamental value. We have experiments with 3 groups of subjects (inexperienced, experienced, and mixed). The largest bubbles are formed for the inexperienced subjects, although bubbles do form in all groups. In all cases where strong bubbles are present, the cash out policy seems to have a strong effect in reducing or preventing the bubble formation.

 

  • Urban Decline in an Urbanizing World, with Paula Restrepo.

This article presents evidence on the striking phenomenon of population decline in Eastern Europe and Central Asia (ECA) using a novel dataset that spans more than 3 decades for all cities in the countries of the region. To explain the observed patterns of population redistribution in a context of strong population decline, we present a modified gravity migration model based on Brezis and Krugman (1997) model on life cycle of cities. Under a negative population shock, the model predicts concentration of population in larger cities, driven by a temporary wedge between productivity and living costs.  We test these predictions and find that indeed population distribution across the city distribution increased its concentration. In particular, there is a negative causal effect on population growth of having access to larger labor markets, and a causal positive effect of having a larger local market. 

 

Publications
 

We provide a new estimator for a broad class of equilibrium models of metropolitan housing markets with housing differentiated by quality. Quality is a latent variable that captures all features of a dwelling and its environment. We estimate the model for Chicago and New York, obtaining hedonic housing price functions for each quality level for each metropolitan area, stocks of each quality, and compensating variations required for a household of a given income in Chicago to be equally well off in New York. See appendix here and code here.

 

Market access has been widely used as a measure of agglomeration spillovers in models that seek to explain productivity, economic or population growth at the city level. Most results have shown that having higher market access is beneficial to these outcomes. These results, both theoretical and empirical, have been obtained in a context of population growth. This article examines the impact that market access has on a system of cities that has suffered a negative population shock. An extended version of the Brezis and Krugman (1997) model of life cycle of cities predicts that a system of cities experiencing population loss will see a relative reorganization of its population from small to larger cities, and that higher market potential will make this movement stronger. We test these predictions with a comprehensive sample of cities in Eastern Europe and Central Asia. We find that having higher market access - when operating in an environment of population decline - is detrimental to city population growth. This result is robust to different measures of market access that use population. Alternative measures that use economic size rather population are tested, and the result weaker. A possible explanation is that using NLs restricts the sample to only using larger cities. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We estimate an bayesian network model to predict the commission of a crime by juveniles in the US using an extensive set of information on the individuals. We use longitudinal survey data variables broadly categorized into three groups: Nature (related to family environment) Nurture (related to individuals’ relationship with his family that require active participation), and Nerd (variables describing schooling  performance). The Nerd attributes perform better at predicting crime than Nurture and Nature. Individually, none of these categories perform well in predicting the crime probabilities. A bundle of best predictors is determined, that correctly predict crime in 65.5% of the observations. This bundle has attributes from all categories, which suggests that it is necessary to address the issue of youth crime in all categories, even if educational policies receive special attention.​

 

Extraordinary regional economic growth is rarely confined to a single country, and growth contagion between countries is an essential feature of globalized markets. This paper studies growth outbreaks across countries and evaluates the role of  membership in implicit trade communities as predictor of  growth contagion. We use network visualization algorithms based on force and connectedness to map out trade networks. Using these trade networks, we use community-based clustering algorithms to form trade-based clusters of countries. Alternatively, we use k-means clustering to group countries based on GDP growth. We compare the results of these two methods. Results yield interesting patterns in the global trade network from 1970 to 2006, as well as consistent trade communities along the period of analysis. We find evidence of correlation between trade clusters and growth outbreaks, a pattern important to policy makers interested in selecting trade partners strategically.

 

This work seeks to determine the effect of political power of economic sectors in the policies their plants face, in their market survival probabilities, and in the aggregate productivity of the economy. Data from Colombian manufacturing sector at the plant level for the period 1990-1998 is used in estimation. Also, political power variables are constructed: dummy variables that indicate membership to economic associations and economic corporate groups, and an index that captures both the economic importance of the plant´s economic sector in the geographical region where it is located, and the electoral influence of that region in the national political scene. First, we estimate the effect of political power on policy variables. For these, we use nominal tariffs, mainly because they show differential treatments between sectors, affect all sectors in the economy, and lend themselves to be easily quantifiable. We found that political power of sectors grants their plants protection in the form of higher tariffs for competing imports. Second a market selection model is estimated to determine the effect of political power on the probability of exit of a plant. We found that a plant that belongs to a more politically influential sector can survive in the market with productivity levels that would otherwise make it go out of business. Third, the economy´s aggregate productivity is calculated with and without the effect of political power. We find that, through diminishing competitive forces, political power decreases aggregate productivity by an annual average of 9.86%.

Books and Policy

This book provides a historical and contemporaneous analysis of the patterns of growth, and,  most importantly, decline, in the cities of the ECA region, including a discussion of the implication of urbanizing under planned economies and a discussion of recent demographic trends (migration and fertility). Particular importance is given to the region's urban systems and emerging trends in population and economic density using the a database collected specifically for this study. Despite an overall climate of decline, the book analyses underlying factors that could explain relative better performance. Finally, it covers the policy implications of the study’s empirical findings. The report is complemented by 17 country-level snapshots, which describe in detail country specific trends. The report is based on a unique city-level database collected specifically for it, which covers more than 5,000 cities in the region and provides harmonized data on economic activity, night lights and spatial measures, population, sprawl, urban multi-city agglomerations, and 1st order location fundamentals.  You can download it here.

This book studies the role of the capacities of government agencies and institutions to design policies and put them into practice on the effectiveness of such policies. The chapter studies public procurement as an input in the production of governmental goods and services, and the implementation of public policies. It provides a comparative analysis of the systems in Latin American, and their connection to government effectiveness, as well as quantitative evidence of the relationship. 

  • Ukraine Urbanization Review, (with Paula Restrepo, Benjamin Stewart, Katie McWilliams, and Sofia Zhukova).  Washington, D.C.: World Bank Group. 2015.

This book links population dynamics with economic dynamics, and presents emerging spatial characteristics and trends. Ukraine has experienced a dramatic population decline over the past two decades, which impacts the urban system. The study uses historical data sets as well as historical maps. Part one outlines recent demographic changes and the impact of urban systems. Part two connects these dynamics to actions of local and regional governments. The final part analyses current urban and spatial planning practices and their shortcomings in view of changing demographics. 

Blog posts and media mentions

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Projects in Progress

 

  • Housing Policy, Centrality and Mobility: The case of Manhattan in New York City (with Hanchen Jiang and Xi Yang)

 

  • Shedding light on measuring economic growth from outer-space: learning from the BRICS, (with Roberts, M., Restrepo, P., Stewart, B).

 

  • Metropolitan Housing Markets with Commuting (with Ismir Mulalic).

 

 
Awards & Fellowships
  • Europe and Central Asia Academy Award. Awarded by the World Bank ECA Chief Economist 2019.

  • Dean's Award, 2019-2020.

  • Research fellow and travel grant. Kraks Fond Institute for Urban Economic Research, 2017.

  • Black & Decker Research Fund Grant, 2016-2017.

  • Global Real Estate Summit Best Paper Second Level, 2015.

  • American Real Estate and Urban Economics Association (AREUEA) Homer Hoyt Institute Best Doctoral Dissertation Award, 2014.

  • William Larimer Mellon Fellowship, 2008-2013.

  • MOOD Doctoral Workshop in Economic Theory and Econometrics, EIEF, travel grant, 2012.

  • ICE - University of Chicago- Argonne Initiative for Computational Economics travel grant, 2011.

  • Heinz Fellowship, 2008-2013.

  • Colfuturo Fellowship, 2007-2010.

  • Juan L. Londoño Award for Best Master’s Dissertation, 2008.

  • Excellence Scholarship Universidad de los Andes, 2002.

  • Andrés Bello Fellowship, 2000-2005.

 
Service
  • Refereeing

    • Journal of Urban  Economics

    • Urban Studies

    • International Economics Review

    • REGION

    • Journal of Housing Economics

    • Journal of the Association of Environmental and Resource Economists

    • Desarrollo y Sociedad

    • Johns Hopkins University University Press​​

  • University Committees

    • ​​Committee on Diversity and Inclusion

    • Faculty Content Sharing Committee​

The model gives pricing functions for a comparable quality measure across metro areas.