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  • Publication
    Internet Access and Use in Latin America and the Caribbean: From the LAC High Frequency Phone Surveys 2021
    (World Bank, Washington, DC, 2022-09) World Bank; United Nations Development Programme
    While most households in Latin America and the Caribbean use mobile broadband via smartphones, expensive fees and poor service quality pose major obstacles for potential users. In addition, power outages are a challenge for nearly 40 percent of existing mobile broadband users. Addressing the region’s need for faster, cheaper, and more reliable internet connections is thus a policy and investment priority. There are persistent and significant gaps in digital infrastructure between countries in the region, as well as weighty rural-urban gaps within some countries. Bridging these digital divides will be key to inclusive digital transformation. Households with tertiary education are on average more connected (with better quality service and higher expenditures on data) compared to the rest of the population. As education level is correlated with income, digital inequalities mirror and may amplify existing social inequalities – underscoring the critical need to address them. Over two-thirds of connected households in the region are concerned about privacy and security when using the internet. However, households on average across Latin America and the Caribbean still reported increasing their use of the internet amid the pandemic, suggesting that neither issue poses a barrier to their internet use at present.
  • Publication
    Minds and Behaviors at Work: Boosting Socioemotional Skills for Latin America’s Workforce
    (World Bank, Washington, DC, 2016-07-11) Cunningham, Wendy; Acosta, Pablo; Muller, Noël
    Although the Latin American region has shown an impressive growth in educational attainment over the past two decades, that education has failed to yield expected benefits. A mounting body of research and policy debates argues that the quantity of education is not an adequate metric of human capital acquisition. Rather, individuals’ skills—what they actually know and can do—should stand as policy targets and be fostered across the life course. Evidence from around the world shows that both cognitive and socio-emotional skills are demanded by employers and favorably affect a range of outcomes, including educational attainment and employment outcomes. Through original empirical research investigating the role of cognitive and socio-emotional skills in shaping adults’ labor market outcomes in Bolivia, Colombia, El Salvador, and Peru, supplemented by similar studies in other Latin American countries, this review confirms that cognitive skills matter for reaping labor market gains in terms of higher wages and formal jobs in Latin America; but so do socio-emotional skills. Moreover, socio-emotional skills seem to particularly influence labor force participation and tertiary education attendance as a platform to build knowledge. The study also presents a policy framework for skills development by: (i) providing insights by developmental psychologists about when people are neuro-biologically, socio-emotionally, and situationally ready to develop socio-emotional skills, and (ii) suggesting new directions in cognitive development.
  • Publication
    Great Teachers : How to Raise Student Learning in Latin America and the Caribbean
    (Washington, DC: World Bank, 2015) Bruns, Barbara; Yarrow, Noah; De Gregorio, Soledad; Evans, David; Fernández, Marco; Moreno, Martin; Rodriguez, Jessica; Toral, Guillermo; Yarrow, Noah
    The seven million teachers of Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) are the critical actors in the region's efforts to improve education quality and raise student learning levels, which lag far behind those of OECD countries and East Asian countries such as China. This book documents the high economic stakes around teacher quality, benchmarks the current performance of LAC's teachers, and delineates the key issues. These include low standards for entry into teacher training, poor quality training programs that are detached from the realities of the classroom, unattractive career incentives, and weak support for teachers once they are on the job. New research conducted for this report in close to 15,000 classrooms in seven different LAC countries - the largest cross-country study of this kind to date - provides a first-ever insight into how the region's teachers perform inside the classroom. It documents that the average teacher in LAC loses the equivalent of one day of instructional time per week because of inadequate preparation, excessive time on administration (taking attendance, passing out papers) and a surprisingly high share of time physically absent from the classrooms where they should be teaching. Teachers also make limited use of available learning materials, espcially those using information and communications technology (ICT), and are unable to keep the majority of their students engaged. The book sets out the three priority lines of reform needed to produce great teachers in LAC: policies to recruit better teachers; programs to groom teachers and improve their skills once they are in service; and stronger incentives to motivate teachers to perform their best throughout their career. In every area, the book distills the latest evidence from inside and outside the region to provide practical guidance to policymakers in the design of effective programs and sustainable reforms. A final chapter analyzes the politics of recent major teacher reforms in Chile, Peru, Ecuador and Mexico, chronicling the prominent role of teachers' unions and the political and communications strategies that have underpinned successful reforms.
  • Publication
    Economic Mobility and the Rise of the Latin American Middle Class
    (Washington, DC: World Bank, 2013) Ferreira, Francisco H.G.; Messina, Julian; Rigolini, Jamele; López-Calva, Luis-Felipe; Lugo, Maria Ana; Vakis, Renos
    After decades of stagnation, the size of Latin America's middle class recently expanded to the point where, for the first time ever, the number of people in poverty is equal to the size of the middle class. This volume investigates the nature, determinants and possible consequences of this remarkable process of social transformation. We propose an original definition of the middle class, tailor-made for Latin America, centered on the concept of economic security and thus a low probability of falling into poverty. Given our definition of the middle class, there are four, not three, classes in Latin America. Sandwiched between the poor and the middle class there lies a large group of people who appear to make ends meet well enough, but do not enjoy the economic security that would be required for membership of the middle class. We call this group the 'vulnerable'. In an almost mechanical sense, these transformations in Latin America reflect both economic growth and declining inequality in over the period. We adopt a measure of mobility that decomposes the 'gainers' and 'losers' in society by social class of each household. The continent has experienced a large amount of churning over the last 15 years, at least 43% of all Latin Americans changed social classes between the mid 1990s and the end of the 2000s. Despite the upward mobility trend, intergenerational mobility, a better proxy for inequality of opportunity, remains stagnant. Educational achievement and attainment remain to be strongly dependent upon parental education levels. Despite the recent growth in pro-poor programs, the middle class has benefited disproportionally from social security transfers and are increasingly opting out from government services. Central to the region's prospects of continued progress will be its ability to harness the new middle class into a new, more inclusive social contract, where the better-off pay their fair share of taxes, and demand improved public services.