Person:
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
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Global Practice on Education, The World Bank
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Last updated January 31, 2023
Biography
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 189 Scopus

Publication Search Results

Now showing 1 - 10 of 14
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    The Labor Market Effects of Foreign-Owned Firms
    (World Bank, Washington, D.C., 2004-04) Almeida, Rita
    Foreign firms often have a more educated workforce and pay higher wages than domestic firms. This does not necessarily imply that foreign ownership translates into higher demand for educated workers or higher wages, since foreign investment may be guided by unobservable firm characteristics correlated with the demand for educated workers or wages. The author examines foreign acquisitions of domestic firms in Portugal in the 1990s and finds small changes in the workforce skill composition and wages following acquisition. Foreign investors "cherry pick" domestic firms that are already very similar to the group of existing foreign firms.
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    The Impact of Vocational Training for the Unemployed : Experimental Evidence from Turkey
    (World Bank, Washington, DC, 2014-03) Hirshleifer, Sarojini ; McKenzie, David ; Almeida, Rita ; Ridao-Cano, Cristobal
    A randomized experiment is used to evaluate a large-scale, active labor market policy: Turkey's vocational training programs for the unemployed. A detailed follow-up survey of a large sample with low attrition enables precise estimation of treatment impacts and their heterogeneity. The average impact of training on employment is positive, but close to zero and statistically insignificant, which is much lower than either program officials or applicants expected. Over the first year after training, the paper finds that training had statistically significant effects on the quality of employment and that the positive impacts are stronger when training is offered by private providers. However, longer-term administrative data show that after three years these effects have also dissipated.
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    Jump-Starting Self-Employment? Evidence Among Welfare Participants in Argentina
    (World Bank, Washington, DC, 2007-06) Almeida, Rita ; Galasso, Emanuela
    One important concern of governments in developing countries is how to phase out large safety net programs. The authors evaluate the short-run effects of one possible exit strategy-programs that promote self-employment-in Argentina. They provide evidence that a small fraction of beneficiaries were attracted by this program. Overall, potential participants to self-employment are more likely to be female household heads and more educated beneficiaries relative to the average Jefes beneficiaries. Using nonexperimental methods, the authors show that participation in the program does affect the labor supply of participants, by reducing the probability of having an outside job, especially for males, and increasing the total number of hours worked. But the intervention fails to produce on average income gains to participating individuals and households in the short run. The fact that a small subset of former welfare beneficiaries are attracted to the program, coupled with the fact that only a subset of participants (younger and more educated beneficiaries, and with previous self-employment experience) benefited from participation has important implications for this intervention to represent a viable exit strategy from welfare.
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    The Return to Firm Investment in Human Capital
    (World Bank, Washington, DC, 2006-02) Almeida, Rita ; Carneiro, Pedro
    In this paper the authors estimate the rate of return to firm investments in human capital in the form of formal job training. They use a panel of large firms with unusually detailed information on the duration of training, the direct costs of training, and several firm characteristics such as their output, workforce characteristics, and capital stock. Their estimates of the return to training vary substantially across firms. On average it is -7 percent for firms not providing training and 24 percent for those providing training. Formal job training is a good investment for many firms and the economy, possibly yielding higher returns than either investments in physical capital or investments in schooling. In spite of this, observed amounts of formal training are small.
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    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.
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    Local Economic Structure and Growth
    (World Bank, Washington, DC, 2005-10) Almeida, Rita
    The author tests how the local economic structure-measured by a region's sector specialization, competition, and diversity-affects the technological growth of manufacturing sectors. Most of the empirical literature on this topic assumes that in the long run more productive regions will attract more workers and use employment growth as a measure of local productivity growth. However, this approach is based on strong assumptions about national labor markets. The author shows that when these assumptions are relaxed, regional adjusted wage growth is a better measure of regional productivity growth than employment growth. She compares the two measures using data for Portugal between 1985 and 1994. With the regional adjusted wage growth, the author finds evidence of Marshall-Arrow-Romer (MAR) externalities in some sectors and no evidence of Jacobs or Porter externalities in most of the manufacturing sectors. These results are at odds with her findings for employment-based regressions, which show that concentration and region size have a negative and significant effect in most of the manufacturing sectors. These employment-based results are in line with most of the existing literature, which suggests that using employment growth to proxy for productivity growth leads to misleading results.
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    Entrepreneurship Training and Self-Employment among University Graduates : Evidence from a Randomized Trial In Tunisia
    (World Bank, Washington, DC, 2012-12) Premand, Patrick ; Brodmann, Stefanie ; Almeida, Rita ; Grun, Rebekka ; Barouni, Mahdi
    In economies characterized by low labor demand and high rates of youth unemployment, entrepreneurship training has the potential to enable youth to gain skills and create their own jobs. This paper presents experimental evidence on a new entrepreneurship track that provides business training and personalized coaching to university students in Tunisia. Undergraduates in the final year of licence appliquee were given the opportunity to graduate with a business plan instead of following the standard curriculum. This paper relies on randomized assignment of the entrepreneurship track to identify impacts on labor market outcomes one year after graduation. The analysis finds that the entrepreneurship track was effective in increasing self-employment among applicants, but that the effects are small in absolute terms. In addition, the employment rate among participants remains unchanged, pointing to a partial substitution from wage employment to self-employment. The evidence shows that the program fostered business skills, expanded networks, and affected a range of behavioral skills. Participation in the entrepreneurship track also heightened graduates optimism toward the future shortly after the Tunisian revolution.
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    Inequality and Employment in a Dual Economy: Enforcement of Labor Regulation in Brazil
    (World Bank, Washington, DC, 2007-11-17) Almeida, Rita ; Carneiro, Pedro
    This paper studies the impact of an increase in the enforcement of labor regulations on unemployment and inequality, using city level data from Brazil. We find that stricter enforcement (affecting the payment of mandated benefits to formal workers) leads to: higher unemployment, less income inequality, a higher proportion of formal employment, and a lower formal wage premium. Our results are consistent with a model where stricter enforcement causes a contraction in labor demand in both the formal and informal sectors; and where workers value mandated benefits highly, so that there is an increase in the formal sector labor supply, an increase in the willingness to become unemployed to search for a formal sector job, and a decrease in labor supply to the informal sector.
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    Women in Paid Employment: A Role for Public Policies and Social Norms in Guatemala
    (World Bank, Washington, DC, 2022-01) Almeida, Rita K. ; Viollaz, Mariana
    With only 32 percent of working-age women in the labor market, Guatemala is an upper-middle-income country with one of the lowest rates of female labor force participation in the Latin America and the Caribbean region, and in the world. The rate of female labor force participation is especially low in the poor regions of the North and the Northwest. This paper explores information from different micro data sets, including the most recent Population Census (2002 and 2018) to assess the drivers of the recent progress. Between 2002 and 2018, the female labor force participation rate increased 5.7 percentage points, from an average of 26 to 32 percent nationwide. This increase was partly explained by the drastic increases in the educational attainment of women, the reduction in fertility, and the country’s structural transformation toward services. However, a large component remains unexplained. Exploring 2018 data, the paper shows that social norms, attitudes toward women in society, and public policies are important determinants of these changes. The analysis suggests that, taken together, these factors can all become an important source of increased female labor force participation moving forward.
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    The Impact of Digital Technologies on Routine Tasks: Do Labor Policies Matter?
    (World Bank, Washington, DC, 2017-09) Almeida, Rita K. ; Corseuil, Carlos H.L. ; Poole, Jennifer P.
    There is a strong concern that technology is increasingly replacing routine tasks, displacing lower-skilled workers. Labor market institutions exist to protect workers from shocks but, by increasing labor costs, labor policy may also constrain firms from adjusting the workforce and, hence, from fully benefiting from technology adoption. This paper assesses the link between access to digital technologies and the demand for skills in the largest Latin American country, Brazil. Between 1996 and 2006, the country experienced a period of strong growth in Internet service provision, as well as in the enforcement of labor market regulations at the subnational level. The paper's empirical strategy exploits administrative data to assess the extent to which the adoption of digital technology affects employment and the skill content of jobs at the local level. In addition, the paper investigates whether the stringency of labor regulations influences this adjustment, by comparing the effect across industries subject to different degrees of enforcement of labor regulations. Using the fact that industries vary in the degree of reliance on digital technologies, the estimates suggest that digital technology adoption leads to a reduction in employment in local labor markets. The decrease in employment is larger for routine tasks, thereby shifting the composition of the workforce toward nonroutine, cognitive skills. However, and in contrast with labor policy intentions, the evidence points to the idea that labor market regulations differentially benefit the skilled workforce, particularly those workers employed in nonroutine, cognitive tasks.