Cristóbal Otero

I'm a PhD candidate in Economics at UC Berkeley and a Graduate Student Fellow at the Stone Center at UC Berkeley. My fields of interest are public, labor, and personnel economics. I am on the 2022/2023 academic job market.

Prior to starting the PhD program, I studied an MSc in Philosophy of the Social Sciences at LSE and worked as a cabinet advisor for the Minister of Economics in Chile. I also hold a BA and MA in Economics from PUC-Chile.

You can find my CV here and contact me at cotero[at]berkeley[dot]edu.


Working Papers

Equilibrium Effects of Food Labeling Policies
Nano Barahona and Sebastián Otero
2022 | Revision requested at Econometrica (2nd round)

Abstract: We study a regulation in Chile that mandates warning labels on products whose sugar or caloric concentration exceeds certain thresholds. We show that consumers substitute from labeled to unlabeled products—a pattern mostly driven by products that consumers mistakenly believe to be healthy. On the supply side, we find substantial reformulation of products and bunching at the thresholds. We develop and estimate an equilibrium model of demand for food and firms' pricing and nutritional choices. We find that food labels increase consumer welfare by 1.6% of total expenditure, and that these effects are enhanced by firms' responses. We then use the model to study alternative policy designs. Under optimal policy thresholds, food labels and sugar taxes generate similar gains in consumer welfare, but food labels benefit the poor relatively more.

Video: [econimate]

Press Coverage: [El País] [Pauta] [Radio Usach] [Chilevision] [America Economía] [La Tercera] [CNN Chile] [BBC Sounds] [DiarioConVos] [Cadena 3] [Canal de la Ciudad] [DelSol] [Infobae]

Policy Discussion: [Centro UC Políticas Públicas]

Policy Briefs: [Ciper Chile] [Nada es Gratis]

Twitter Thread

Abstract: We study the effects of competition by state-owned firms, leveraging the decentralized entry of public pharmacies to local markets in Chile. Public pharmacies sell the same drugs at a third of private pharmacy prices, because of stronger upstream bargaining and downstream market power in the private sector, but are of lower quality. Public pharmacies induced market segmentation and price increases in the private sector, benefiting the switchers to the public option but harming the stayers. The countrywide entry of public pharmacies would reduce yearly consumer drug expenditure by 1.6 percent, which outweighs the costs of the policy by 52 percent.

Press Coverage: [Pauta] [The Clinic] [Sonar FM] [Las Últimas Noticias] [Chilevisión Noticias 1, 2] [CNN Chile] [LAPDE Podcast] [Diario Financiero]

Policy Briefs: [by Centro de Competencia UAI]

Twitter Thread

Abstract: We study a regulation in Chile that mandates front-of-package warning labels on products whose sugar or caloric concentration exceeds certain thresholds. We document an overall decrease in sugar and caloric intake of 7-9%. To unpack the underlying mechanisms, we provide descriptive evidence of the impact of the policy on consumer choice, both across and within categories and firms’ behavior. We find no noticeable substitution of products across food categories and show that most of the demand effect of the regulation comes from within-category substitution. We also find that a substantive portion of the overall effect comes from product reformulation. We discuss how these findings can inform the design of effective labeling policies.

Selected work in progress

Public Managers and Hospital Performance
with Pablo Muñoz
Job Market Paper

Occupational Licensing in Global Labor Markets: Evidence from Physicians
with Juan Pablo Atal, Tomás Larroucau, and Pablo Muñoz
Draft coming soon


Impuetos justos para el Chile que viene. Diagnóstico y desafíos tributarios para un nuevo pacto fiscal
with Jorge Atria (eds.)
Fondo de Cultura Económica. November 2021 (1st Edition), September 2022 (2nd Edition)

Press coverage: [


Thomas Piketty
Author of Capital in the Twenty-First Century
This is a fascinating book on inequality and taxation in Chile. This collective volume brings the best experts and a refreshing perspective on this central issue. Chile is one of the most unequal countries in the world, partly due to its unfair tax system and the legacy of the Pinochet regime. At a time when the country is rethinking its basic law and social contract, this is a very timely book and a must-read for all citizens of the world.

Gabriel Zucman
Coauthor of The Triumph of Injustice: How the Rich Dodge Taxes and How to Make Them Pay
Taxation is one of the most important political — and even philosophical — issues we face as citizens. This groundbreaking book is a treasure trove of information on taxation and inequality in Chile, a rigorous analysis of the changes in taxation that have taken place over the last century, and a vital contribution to the public debate that will resonate for many years in Chile and in Latin America.

Pre-doctoral work

National institutions and regional development at borders: evidence from the Americas
with Francisco Gallego, César Huaroto, and Alejandro Sáenz
Applied Economics, 53(2): 205-220, 2020


Department of Economics, UC Berkeley

Global Inequality and Growth [2019, 2021]
Prof. Gabriel Zucman

Intermediate Microeconomics Analysis
Prof. Daniel Acland

Department of Economics, PUC-Chil

Graduate: Microeconometrics, Econometric Theory I (×2), and Econometric Theory II

Undergraduate: Introduction to Economics (×2), Applied Economic Analysis (Head TA), Econometrics (×2), Macroeconomics I, and Monetary Macroeconomics

Teaching Awards: I was awarded the Outstanding Graduate Student Instructor Award in 2019-20 [what is this?] [certificate]

Public outreach

Media (In Spanish)

  1. ¿Es baja la carga tributaria en Chile? [Chile's Tax Reform Public Inquiry, 5/22]

  2. Impuesto a los superricos y desigualdad [Podcast & Video, El Líbero, 04/22]

  3. Sanciones económicas a Rusia en el contexto de la invasión a Ucrania [Sonar FM 02/22]

  4. Libro: Impuestos justos para el Chile que viene [CNN Chile, 11/21]

  5. Impacto de las farmacias públicas en Chile [CNN Chile, 5/21]

  6. Por qué la desigualdad importa [Podcast, Radio Cooperativa, 04/21]

  7. Incorporación de trabajadores en los directorios [Radio Usach, 04/21]

  8. Impuesto a la riqueza en Chile [CNN Chile 09/20]

  9. Impuesto a la riqueza en Chile [Sonar FM 09/20]

  10. Políticas laborales en tiempos de pandemia [Sonar FM 03/20]

Written (In Spanish)

  1. Debate: Sobre el impuesto a las empresas en Chile, with G. Lambeth and D. Vergara [Nuestros Impuestos, 08/21]

  2. Por qué los trabajadores están en los directorios en gran de Europa. Razones políticas y económicas, with A. Mora [Ciper, 04/21]

  3. Lecciones de la codeterminación alemana, with A. Mora [Ciper, 04/21]

  4. Justicia en tiempos de pandemia: ¿Quién paga la cuenta?, with D. Vela [La Tercera, 04/21]

  5. Políticas laborales en tiempos de pandemia: por qué hay que garantizar el 75% del ingreso de los trabajadores y cómo hacerlo [Ciper, 04/20; top 5 most-read article in 2020]

  6. Los impuestos son políticos, with G. Lambeth and D. Vergara [Ciper, 12/19]

  7. La desigualdad es una decisión política, with G. Lambeth and D. Vergara [Ciper, 12/19]

  8. Cómo y por qué el gobierno permitirá a las empresas no pagar impuesto corporativo, with G. Lambeth and D. Vergara [Ciper, 07/19]

  9. Evidencia contradice fe del gobierno en reintegración: bajar impuestos corporativos no garantiza más inversión, with G. Lambeth and D. Vergara [Ciper, 07/19]

  10. Una reforma que aumenta la inequidad e incentiva la elusión, with G. Lambeth & D. Vergara [Ciper, 07/19]

  11. Discurso pro-pyme: el caballo de Troya de la reforma tributaria, with G. Lambeth & D. Vergara [Ciper, 09/19]

Other fun stuff

Interview with Gabriel Zucman
with Juan Andrés Guzmán
May 2022, Tercera Dosis

Is Chile richer than Uruguay?
Twitter thread

Has inequality decreased in Chile?
Twitter thread

Amateur political philosophy: Social equality's (in)compatibilities with liberal egalitarianism
Sept 2016 | Dissertation, MSc. Philosophy of the Social Sciences, LSE

  • Why did I study philosophy? Here is a note on the program