Andrés Barrios-Fernández

Andrés Barrios-Fernández

PhD, LSE Department of Economics | Postdoc Fellow, MIT

Department of Economics

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Key Expertise
Labour Economics, Public Economics, Economics of Education

About me

Research interests
Labour Economics, Public Economics, Economics of Education  

Job market paper
Elite Universities and the Intergenerational Transmission of Human and Social Capital

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Do elite colleges renew the elite or reproduce it? This paper combines five decades of intergenerationally linked data on the educational trajectories of parents and children in Chile with a regression discontinuity design to document the joint evolution of social and human capital across generations and provide causal evidence on how elite colleges shape this evolution. We first describe the association between social capital--measured by the type of high school parents attended---and children's outcomes. Even after controlling for parents' performance on a national college admission exam, children whose parents attended elite private high schools are more likely to obtain high scores on college entrance exams and to attend elite colleges. These children are also more likely to attend elite private schools themselves. Turning to the causal analysis, we show that parents' admission to an elite college program changes their children's educational paths. Children of parents from non-elite social backgrounds are 24% more likely to attend an elite private school and 7.1% more likely to attend an elite college when their parents are admitted to an elite college program. These effects are not driven by generic increases in educational expenditures, but by changes in the family and neighborhood environment: parents admitted to elite college programs are more likely to marry high-status partners and to live near other high-status families. In contrast, parents' admission does not raise children's test scores. Back of the envelope calculations show that, among high human capital families, the intergenerational gains in social capital from elite colleges admission accrue disproportionately to the incumbent social capital elite, but that low social capital families are 20.92% more common among the beneficiaries of elite colleges admission than among the next generation's social elite as a whole. Elite colleges transmit social capital unequally, but less so than other paths through which social capital travels.

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Publications and additional papers

Published Papers:

  • Neighbors’ Effects on University Enrollment (Forthcoming, American Economic Journal: Applied Economics)
  • Brother, Where Start Thou? Sibling Spillovers on College and Major Choice in Four Countries (The Quarterly Journal of Economics) with A. Altmejd, M. Drlje, J. Goodman, M. Hurwitz, D. Kovac, C. Mulhern, C. Neilson and J. Smith
  • It’s Time to Learn: School Institutions and Returns to Instruction Time (Economics of Education Review) with G.Bovini.

Working papers and ongoing work:

  • Closing Gaps in Higher Education Trajectories: The Effect of Targeted Information and Mentorship with Josefina Eluchans Errázuriz and Fernanda Ramírez Espinoza.
  • Recidivism and Neighborhood Institutions: Evidence from the Rise of the Pentecostal Church in Chile with Jorge García-Hombrados
  • Inequality in College Applications: Evidence from Three Continents with A.Altjmed, A.Bizopoulou, M.Kaila, C.Neilson, S.Otero, and X.Ye
  • Teacher Value Added and Gender Gaps on Educational Outcomes with Marc Riudavets-Barcons.
  • STEM-Moms: Intergenerational Transmission of Preferences for STEM Majors with C. Neilson and S. Zimmerman.
  • (Dis)Connecting People: Labor Market Consequences of the Nokia Decline with Jarkko Harju and Tuomas Matikka


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Department of Economics,
Massachusetts Institute of Technology,
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MA 02142.
United States of America