I am a Postdoctoral Fellow at J-PAL King Climate Action Initiative based at PUC-Rio de Janeiro, doing research on environmental economics and public finance

I obtained my PhD in economics at Toulouse School of Economics, and I will join the economics department of Southern Methodist University in September 2023 as an Assistant Professor.

Before my PhD, I worked at an environmental consultancy, and at the finance ministry of the state of São Paulo.

aferreira[@]povertyactionlab.org | CV



Early Indigenous Extinctions and Modern Deforestation in the Amazon (with Bruno Barsanetti)

This paper studies the long-run relationship between historical indigenous presence and modern tropical deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon. We georeference information on the historical location of indigenous groups, which groups went extinct, and the likely underlying extinction causes. We find that modern deforestation is substantially higher in the proximity of historically extinct indigenous groups, mainly when the probable extinction cause is violent conflict. In contrast, we find no long-term relationship between non-extinct indigenous groups and modern deforestation. These findings remain after conditioning on observable geographic fundamentals or indigenous groups' cultural characteristics, and hold for both accumulated and ongoing deforestation. Historical extinction events are associated with better road access, fewer indigenous reserves, and more private farms, suggesting a mediating link between historical extinction and modern deforestation. We interpret these findings as suggestive evidence that historical indigenous occupation and clashes with settlers influenced the relatively recent deforestation of the Amazon.

 Amazon Deforestation: Drivers, Damages, and Policies

This paper discusses the economic drivers, the environmental damages, and the policies enacted to fight Amazon deforestation. It provides key statistics about conservation in the nine Amazon countries, and discusses the underlying causes leading to forest destruction in the region. Economic exploitation of the forest generates profits, but forest destruction creates harms on global, regional, and local levels. The global harm is the impact of greenhouse gas emissions on climate change. Regional damage is due to the impact of deforestation on rainfall, and the impact of forest fires on air pollution. On a local level, deforestation destroys ecosystem services, and mining activities pollute water bodies. The chapter proposes a typology of conservation policies: bans on deforestation, financial incentives, land tenure regulations, market access, sustainable practices, and indirect instruments. It discusses examples of policies and reviews impact evaluations.

Satellites and fines: Using Monitoring to Target Inspections of Deforestation
Paper | Online Appendix 

Effectively fighting deforestation requires monitoring of vast areas, which is possible thanks to satellite imagery. However, satellite monitoring can only reduce deforestation if three conditions are met: the monitoring alerts must be informative, the enforcement agency must use them to target inspections, and farmers must respond to enforcement action by doing less deforestation. This paper quantifies the contribution of real-time monitoring in deforestation reduction using detailed satellite and administrative data in the Brazilian Amazon forest. It studies the whole chain of events from the production of a deforestation alert to its effect on deforestation. It first documents an improvement in the monitoring system's ability to detect infractions in real-time. Then it estimates the impact that real-time alerts have on deforestation inspections. Finally, it estimates the impact of inspections on deforestation using an instrumental variable approach and an event study. Overall, the real-time alerts increase by three percentage points the inspection probability for offenders, avoiding approximately 450 square kilometers of deforestation per year.  

Audit selection with weak fiscal capacity: evidence from Senegal (With Pierre Bachas, Anne Brockmeyer, Bassirou Sarr)
Paper | RCT registry here | Blog post

Developing economies are characterized by limited compliance with government regulation, such as taxation. Resources for enforcement are scarce, but the increasing availability of digitized data and data processing technologies have the potential to improve the targeting of enforcement. Leveraging an experiment at scale in Senegal, we compare the yield of tax audit cases selected by a risk-scoring algorithm to cases selected by tax inspectors based on a traditional discretionary procedure. The algorithm computed indicators of inconsistencies and anomalies based on available information about firms, including their own tax declarations and third party data. Discretionary methods select larger firms than the algorithm, and uncover equivalent evasion rates, thus outperforming it in absolute values of fines.

Optimal (double) taxation with tax evasion and firm growth

Tax evasion is in general a nuisance for governments, which must devote resources to fight it, and to ensure that taxpayers pay their taxes. However, if taxpayers invest avoided taxes in a productive way, governments can also benet from evasion by taxing the outcome of taxpayers investments. Moreover, by auditing past tax declarations, governments can still recover avoided taxes from the past while still beneting from the result of past evasion. This amounts to a form of double taxation which has not yet been considered in the literature. This paper models tax evasifon by rms in a dynamic setting where firms have incentives to invest all their assets. It shows that the optimal policy for the government is not to reduce evasion to zero, even when all enforcement parameters are free. In practice, evasion functions as a loan from the government to the taxpayer, where expected nes work as interest rates. The incentives outlined in this paper are likely to hold for small, financially constrained rms with high growth potential.


Enforcement and the Technology of Crime: Varying the Use of Fire in Deforestation

Policy reports

The impact of COVID-19 on formal companies in Senegal (in French), World Bank Practice Notes, 2020
(With Pierre Bachas, Anne Brockmeyer, Bassirou Sarr and Camille Semelet)

Green infrastructure and flood management. European Environmental Agency, 2017
(With Gorm Dige, Lisa Eichler, Jurgen Vermeulen, Koen Rademaekers, Veronique Adreanssens, Dagna Kolaszewka) 

Selecting indicators to measure energy poverty. European Commission, 2016
(With Koen Rademaekers, Jessica Yearwood, Steve Pye, Ian Hamilton, Paolo Agnolucci, Nataliya Anisimova)  

Study in support of the mid-term evaluation of the functioning and the implementation of Council Directive 2009/119/EC on Oil Stocks. European Commission, 2016.
(With Nick van der Lijn, Rob Williams, Jurgen Vermeulen)

The Brazilian housing deficit remains high (in Portuguese), Conjuntura da Construção, June 2016
(With Ana Maria Castelo)

The profile of civil construction workers in Brazil (in Portuguese), Conjuntura da Construção, March 2015
(With Ana Maria Castelo)

Indicator shows improvement in housing supply (in Portuguese), Conjuntura da Construção, May 2013
(With Ana Maria Castelo and Robson Gonçalves)

An incomplete recovery in the construction sector (in Portuguese), Conjuntura da Construção, May 2012
(With Roberto Aragão and Robson Gonçalves)


Why we should break the government's monopoly over vaccine distribution (in Portuguese), 3 February 2021, Gazeta do Povo

Fiscal Policies in emerging countries as  a response to the COVID-19 crisis, 10 November 2020, BSI Economics

Interview with CNN Brazil about the French report on the EU-Mercosur trade agreement (in Portuguese), 25 September 2020, CNN Brazil

Three government tasks in Brazil, 4 February 2020, BSI Economics

The unanimity rule is not a piece of decoration (in Portuguese), 30 April 2015, Valor Econômico

Collective costs and private benefits in tax competition (in Portuguese), 5 March 2015, Valor Econômico

Bad news from Switzerland (in Portuguese), 21 February 2014, Valor Econômico

Inflation is running too high (in Portuguese), 12 February 2014, Valor Econômico (with Samy Dana)

I am also a co-founder and occasional writer at the economics website Terraço Econômico (in Portuguese). My articles can be found here.