Almeida, Rita

Global Practice on Education, The World Bank
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Fields of Specialization
Skills development policy, Labor markets, Social protection, Firm productivity, Innovation policy
Global Practice on Education, The World Bank
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Last updated: August 7, 2023
Rita K. Almeida earned her earned her PhD in Economics from Universitat Pompeu Fabra in 2004 and her Licenciatura in Economics, from Universidade Católica Portuguesa, Lisbon in 1997 with honors. She is a senior economist at the World Bank’s Education Global Practice. Since joining the World Bank in 2002, Rita has led policy dialogue on a broad set of regions and countries, including Latin America, Eastern Europe, and the Middle East and North Africa. Prior to joining the World Bank, she worked in a private investment bank and taught graduate and undergraduate Economics at the Portuguese Catholic University. She is also a fellow of the Institute for the Study of Labor since 2003. Her main areas of expertise cover education policies, labor market analysis, training and life-long learning skills development policies, activation and graduation policies, labor market regulations, social protection for workers, firm productivity and innovation policies, public expenditure reviews and the evaluation of social programs.  Over the years, Almeida has led and contributed to several World Bank flagship publications including “The Right Skills for the Job? Rethinking Training Policies for Workers” and “Toward more efficient and effective public social spending in Central America”.  Her work has been covered in the media and her research has been featured in leading world economic reports. Her academic work has been published in a variety of top general-interest and specialized journals, including The Economic Journal, American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, Journal of International Economics, Journal of Development Economics, Labour Economics, and World Development. 
Citations 217 Scopus

Publication Search Results

Now showing 1 - 10 of 36
  • Publication
    Toward More Efficient and Effective Public Social Spending in Central America
    (World Bank, Washington, DC, 2017-05-18) Acosta, Pablo A.; Almeida, Rita; Gindling, Thomas; Lao Pena, Christine
    Central America has come a long way both in terms of economic and political stability. Increasingly the region is focusing on implementing productivity-enhancing reforms as well as supporting reductions in poverty and inequality. This report analyzes recent trends in public social spending in Central America from 2007 to 2014, conducts international benchmarking, examines measures of the effectiveness and efficiency of social spending, and discusses the quality of selected institutions influencing this spending. We examine total social spending, as well as detailing its four components: public spending on the education, health, and social protection and labor (SPL) sectors. In analyzing public social spending, the report addresses three crucial policy issues: (a) how to improve the coverage and redistributional incidence of public social spending; (b) how to enhance the effectiveness and efficiency of public social spending; and (c) how to strengthen the institutions governing public spending in the social sector. While based heavily on a series of recent analytical social spending studies in six countries in the subregion—Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, and Panama—this report also takes a broader regional perspective and includes some comparisons to countries in other regions.
  • Publication
    Minimum Wages in Developing Countries : Helping or Hurting Workers?
    (World Bank, Washington, DC, 2008-12) Terrell, Katherine; Almeida, Rita K.
    This policy note reviews the literature on the effects of minimum wages on labor markets in developing countries. The authors begin by elucidating the challenges to ascertaining these effects, especially in developing economies where a large segment of the workforce is not covered by minimum wage legislation (uncovered sector). After summarizing the theoretical models and their predictions, the authors review the empirical evidence of the impact of minimum wage legislation on wages, employment, and unemployment in the covered and uncovered sectors of the labor market. The evidence strongly suggests that an increase in the minimum wage tends to have a positive wage effect and a small negative employment effect among workers covered by minimum wage legislation and that the effects tend to be stronger among low-wage workers. The findings are quite limited and fairly inconclusive on the indirect effects of increases in minimum wages on workers in the uncovered sectors, where the legislation either does not apply or is not complied with.
  • Publication
    Investment in Job Training : Why Are SMEs Lagging So Much Behind?
    (2010-07-01) Almeida, Rita K.
    This paper analyzes the link between firm size and investment in job training by employers. Using a large firm level data set across 99 developing countries, the analysis shows that a strong and positive correlation in investment in job training and firm size is a robust statistical finding both within and across countries with very different institutions and level of development. However, the findings do not support the view that this difference is mostly driven by market imperfections disproportionally affecting small and medium enterprises. Rather, the evidence is supportive of small and medium enterprises having a smaller expected return from the investment in job training than larger firms. Therefore, the findings call for caution when designing pro-small and medium enterprises policies fostering investment in on-the-job training.
  • Publication
    Enforcement of Labor Regulation and Informality
    (American Economic Association, 2012-07) Almeida, Rita
    Enforcement of labor regulations in the formal sector may drive workers to informality because they increase the costs of formal labor. But better compliance with mandated benefits makes it attractive to be a formal employee. We show that, in locations with frequent inspections, workers pay for mandated benefits by receiving lower wages. Wage rigidity prevents downward adjustment at the bottom of the wage distribution. As a result, lower paid formal sector jobs become attractive to some informal workers, inducing them to want to move to the formal sector.
  • Publication
    Enforcement of Labor Regulation, Informal Labor, and Firm Performance
    (World Bank, Washington, DC, 2005-10) Almeida, Rita
    This paper investigates how enforcement of labor regulation affects the firm's use of informal employment and its impact on firm performance. Using firm level data on informal employment and firm performance, and administrative data on enforcement of regulation at the city level, the authors show that in areas where law enforcement is stricter firms employ a smaller amount of informal employment. Furthermore, by reducing the firm's access to unregulated labor, stricter enforcement also decreases average wages, productivity, and investment. The results are robust to several specification changes, and to instrumenting enforcement with (1) measures of access of labor inspectors to firms, and (2) measures of general law enforcement in the area where the firm is located.
  • Publication
    Explaining Local Manufacturing Growth in Chile : The Advantages of Sectoral Diversity
    (Taylor and Francis, 2012-04-05) Almeida, Rita; Fernandes, Ana M.
    This article investigates whether the agglomeration of economic activity in regional clusters affects long-run manufacturing Total Factor Productivity (TFP) growth in an emerging market context. We explore a large firm-level panel dataset for Chile during a period characterized by high growth rates and rising regional income inequality (1992–2004). Our findings are clear-cut. Locations with greater concentration of a particular sector have not experienced faster TFP growth during this period. Rather, local sector diversity was associated with higher long-run TFP growth. However, there is no evidence that the diversity effect was driven by the local interaction with a set of suppliers and/or clients. We interpret this as evidence that agglomeration economies are driven by other factors such as the sharing of access to specialized inputs not provided solely by a single sector, e.g. skills or financing.
  • Publication
    Women in Paid Employment: A Role for Public Policies and Social Norms in Guatemala
    (Taylor and Francis, 2023-05-03) Almeida, Rita K.
    With only 32% of women in the labor market, Guatemala has one of the lowest rates of female labor force participation (FLFP) in the Latin America and Caribbean region and in the world. We explore information from different micro data sets, including the most recent population censuses (2002 and 2018) to assess the drivers of recent progress. Between 2002 and 2018, FLFP increased from an average of 26% to 32% nationwide. This increase was partly explained by increases in the school attainment of women, reduction in fertility and the country’s structural transformation towards services. However, a large part of the increase remains unexplained. Exploring 2018 data, we show that social norms, attitudes towards women and public policies are important determinants of FLFP. The analysis suggests that, taken together, these factors can all become an important source of increased participation of women in the labor market moving forward.
  • Publication
    Does the Adoption of Complex Software Impact Employment Composition and the Skill Content of Occupations?: Evidence from Chilean Firms
    (World Bank, Washington, DC, 2017-06) Viollaz, Mariana; Almeida, Rita K.; Fernandes, Ana M.
    A major concern with the rapid spread of technology is that it replaces some jobs, displacing workers. However, technology may raise firm productivity, generating more jobs. The paper contributes to this debate by exploiting a novel panel data set for Chilean firms in all sectors between 2007 and 2013. While previous studies examine the impacts of automation on the use of routine tasks by middle-educated workers. this study focuses on a measure of complex software that is typically used by more educated workers in cognitive and nonroutine tasks for client, production, and business management. The instrumental variables estimates show that in the medium run, firms' adoption of complex software affects firms' employment decisions and the skill content of occupations. The adoption of complex software reallocates employment from skilled workers to administrative and unskilled production workers. This reallocation leads to an increase in the use of routine and manual tasks and a reduction in the use of abstract tasks within firms. Interestingly, the impacts tend to be concentrated in sectors with a less educated workforce, suggesting that technology can constrain job creation for the more skilled workers there. The paper concludes that the type of technology matters for understanding the impacts of technology adoption on the labor market.
  • Publication
    Assessing the Impacts of Mais Educacao on Educational Outcomes: Evidence between 2007 and 2011
    (World Bank, Washington, DC, 2016-04) Almeida, Rita; Borges, Bruna; Mendes, Karen; Menezes-Filho, Naercio
    To address the educational gap, many Latin American countries are focusing on extension of the school day and enrichment of the curriculum. In Brazil, a nationwide policy -- Mais Educação -- was implemented in 2008 with this objective. This paper explores the nationwide rollout of the program across the country and compares the performance of schools before and after implementation of the program. The paper quantifies the impacts of the program on student learning and dropout rates in urban areas, and investigates the heterogeneity of impacts by several characteristics of the program's implementation. Participating schools are compared with nonparticipating schools after controlling for school selection into the program based on observable characteristics using propensity score matching. The analysis finds that participation in Mais Educação has on average no impacts on school dropout rates and average negative impacts on mathematics test scores. The negative impacts on student achievement are stronger in the short term, which suggests that the negative effects may be reduced as the program improves its implementation. In addition, especially for fifth-grade schools, the level of student spending is associated with reduced dropout rates. Interestingly, in schools choosing the fields of Portuguese and/or sports in the added hours, the program is associated with lower test scores in Portuguese and mathematics. Finally, for the sample of fifth-grade schools, heterogeneous impacts are seen in the program according to the GDP per capita of the city where the school is located. The higher the GDP per capita, the greater the positive impact of the program on mathematics test scores and on dropout rates.
  • Publication
    Mandated Benefits, Employment, and Inequality in a Dual Economy
    (2009-11-01) Almeida, Rita
    This paper studies the effect of enforcing labor regulation in an economy with a dual labor market. The analysis uses data from Brazil, a country with a large informal sector and strict labor law, where enforcement affects mainly the degree of compliance with mandated benefits (severance pay and health and safety conditions) in the formal sector, and the registration of informal workers. The authors find that stricter enforcement leads to higher unemployment but lower income inequality. They also show that, at the top of the formal wage distribution, workers bear the cost of mandated benefits by receiving lower wages. Wage rigidity (due, say, to the minimum wage) prevents this downward adjustment at the bottom of the income distribution. As a result, formal sector jobs at the bottom of the wage distribution become more attractive, inducing the low-skilled self-employed to search for formal jobs.