Hernán Barahona is a PhD student in economics at Stanford University. His main research interests lie in the fields of public economics, development economics, and industrial organization, with a special interest in evaluating government interventions and understanding the organizational structure of the state and its interactions with the private sector. He is currently working on projects in Brazil, Chile, the Dominican Republic, and the United States. Barahona holds a BS in engineering and an MA in economicsfrom Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile.
Government plays a major role in facilitating development. Naturally, its ability to provide public goods is tied to the employees hired in the public sector. Developing an understanding of the incentives and selection method of these employees is essential to studying state performance. This project aims to exploit quasi-experimental evidence from Brazilian government’s public employee admission exam to analyze: i) the existence of a wage differential between private and public sector jobs, and ii) how this wage premium, if it exists, drives the selection mechanism of individuals into government positions.
Food Labeling: Effects of Information on Nutrition and Health
In this research project we ask whether large-scale policies aimed at shifting consumers’ preferences towards healthier products are cost-effective mechanisms to cope with increasing obesity rates in the context of a middle income country. In particular, we examine how the introduction of a nation-wide regulatory label based on the nutritional content of food products affects both the set of products purchased by consumers as well as the nutritional composition of food offered by companies, and its overall impact on health. We do this in Chile, where in response to a growing obesity problem, the local legislature introduced a novel regulation in 2016 mandating food manufacturers to put warning labels on all of their packaged food products that surpassed an allowable level of calories, sodium, sugar, or fat.