Felipe Menares


I'm a Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of Demography, working on the CenSoc Project at the University of California, Berkeley. My primary research interests lie at the intersection of economics and demography, focusing on health economics, mortality, health policy, and formal demography. 

As an applied economic demographer, I aim to answer questions using quasi-experimental research designs to draw causal effects of real-life problems. 

Before starting my Ph.D. in Demography, I worked as a research analyst at the research department of the Superintendence of Pensions in Chile. I also hold a BA and MA in Economics from Universidad de Chile. 

Check my CV and contact me at fmenares at berkeley.edu

Published papers

with Emma Aguila, William H. Dow, Felipe Menares, Susan W. Parker, Jorge Peniche, and Soomin Ryu

Economics and Human Biology, 2024

Progresa, an anti-poverty conditional cash transfer program, has been a model for similar programs in more than 60 countries. Numerous studies have found positive impacts on schooling, the nutritional and health status of children and adolescents, and household consumption. However, the effects on the health of older adult beneficiaries have been particularly understudied. In this paper we analyze the effects of Progresa on middle-aged and older adult health, focusing on a high prevalence chronic condition: hypertension. Our results show that Progresa had significant benefits in terms of improved hypertension diagnosis and use of treatment drugs. However, we did not find significant changes in uncontrolled hypertension as measured by systolic and diastolic blood pressure biomarkers in household survey data. Thus, while cash transfer programs may facilitate financial access to healthcare visits and the ability to buy prescribed medicines, by itself the program might not improve hypertension outcomes without complementary healthcare system follow-up to ensure dosage titration and medication adherence.

Working papers

with Pablo Muñoz

We study the impact of a healthcare reform that standardized procedures and guaranteed the timely coverage of a set of diseases. Using Chile’s universe of death records and a difference-in-differences research design, we show that mortality from the diseases covered by this reform decreased by 4.4% and that the impact was larger on diseases more amenable to health care. This effect is not explained by disease-specific shocks or a resource shift from non-covered to covered diseases. Evidence from polytraumatized inpatients suggests that the reform equalized utilization rates as it reduced the dispersion of risk-adjusted surgery rates and spending across hospitals.

with Emma Aguila, William H. Dow, Felipe Menares, Susan W. Parker, Jorge Peniche, and Soomin Ryu 

Research on the mortality effects of income-support social insurance programs for older adults has generated conflicting results, but this work has primarily focused on short-run effects. We analyze the older adult mortality effects of Mexico’s pathbreaking Progresa conditional cash transfer social insurance program. We employ difference-in-differences models that exploit the geographic variation in program expansion to estimate lagged effects from one to ten years after increased coverage, focusing on high-poverty municipalities. We find that Progresa substantially reduced mortality in the short-run, particularly among females, with the largest effects after three years. All-cause mortality effects attenuated at increasing lag lengths, with no sustained benefit in ten-year lag models. Results varied by cause of death, though, with long-term benefits of earlier cash transfers sustained for female diabetes mortality even after a ten-year lag.

Work in progress

We build on Lleras-Muney's (2005) seminal paper instrumenting compulsory schools laws (CSL) between 1915 and 1939 to provide causal evidence of the long-term effect of education on longevity in the U.S. We use the unique CenSoc individual-level data, which combines more than 6 million deaths from Social Security Administration records with the 1940 Census. The individual-level dataset allows us to overcome the first stage's weakness. We focus on old age mortality for both men and women cohorts born 1895-1920, using age at death as a proxy for longevity. We instrument years of education using the years of CSL ranging from 0 to 11, and we implement a recent DID estimator to address heterogeneous treatment effects across states and cohorts exposed to the CSLs that increase and decrease the years of mandatory schooling in the study period. We contribute to ongoing research on the causal relationship between education and mortality.