Turrini, G.  “Executive Functioning and Labor-Market Outcomes” (job market paper).

There is a growing interest in the link between executive function and economic success, but evidence is limited by the challenges of collecting population-representative data on both cognitive function and labor market outcomes, particularly on a large scale or in developing-country contexts.  This research describes how a widely-used measure of executive function with foundations in cognitive neuroscience was implemented as part of a large-scale, population-representative survey in Indonesia.  The results show that executive function is associated with observable characteristics like education and age, but even conditional on these, higher functioning is associated with rewards in the labor market in terms of hourly wage and overall income for both men and women.  In addition, men with better executive functioning were more likely to work for pay at all, while women with higher functioning are less likely to choose self-employment compared to not working for pay.  I additionally demonstrate that this market of executive function provides information beyond what is contained in other cognitive markers that are routinely included in surveys.  These results suggests that executive function is an important skill in terms of economic success, and adaptation of this measure from cognitive neuroscience for implementation in large, population-representative surveys is feasible and provides information that current measures are not capturing.


Farfan, G., M. Genoni, D. Thomas, G. Turrini, and A. Velasquez.  “Health Insurance and Child Health: Evidence from Seguro Popular” (working paper).

Abstract: Public health insurance programs are being expanded across the globe despite limited evidence regarding their impacts on population health. Exploiting the roll-out of Seguro Popular, a large-scale program that provides public health insurance to about half Mexico’s population, this research isolates the causal impact of the program on child health and nutrition measured by height-for-age. Drawing on insights from the biology of human linear growth during the first few years of life, we use rich longitudinal population-representative data, the Mexican Family Life Survey, in combination with administrative program data and establish that Seguro Popular has had, at best, a modest impact on child nutritional status. Program effects in a community are larger after the program has been established for several years, suggesting supply-side factors may be critical impediments to fulfilling program goals. The results have important implications for the design, roll-out, and evaluation of public health programs.


Brown, J., A. Hamoudi, M. Jeuland, and G. Turrini.  “Seeing, Believing, and Behaving: Heterogeneous Effects of an Information Intervention on Household Water Treatment.”  Journal of Environmental Economics and Management 2016.

Abstract: Previous research indicates that providing people with information about health risks does not always motivate them to take protective action, and when it does the effect is often modest. Those findings raise questions about whether and how information about health risks is understood and acted upon, including whether and how responses vary across contexts and over time. We stratified a randomized experiment across two periurban areas located near Phnom Penh, Cambodia, which were identified in preparatory work to be different in terms of socioeconomic status, piped water coverage, and perceptions of water safety. In each area, we compared effects of providing drinking water quality test results on subjective beliefs of water safety, demand for a chlorine-based water treatment product, and hygiene-related behaviors. In one area, showing households evidence that their water was contaminated increased the purchase and use of the treatment product and altered water safety beliefs over a 6-week period, while in the other it had no significant effect on beliefs and only affected self-reports of hand-washing. These differential effects suggest a need for better understanding the drivers of responses to health risk information interventions.