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
Externally Hosted Work
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.
Publication Search Results
Now showing 1 - 10 of 27
Improving Access to Jobs and Earnings Opportunities : The Role of Activation and Graduation Policies in Developing Countries(World Bank, Washington, DC, 2012-03-01) Almeida, Rita ; Arbelaez, Juliana ; Honorati, Maddalena ; Kuddo, Arvo ; Lohmann, Tanja ; Ovadiya, Mirey ; Pop, Lucian ; Sanchez Puerta, Maria Laura ; Weber, MichaelThroughout the developing world there is a growing demand for advice on the design of policies to facilitate access of the most vulnerable individuals to jobs, while reducing their dependency from public income support schemes. Even though these policies are common to both the activation and graduation agendas, a separation is needed as the graduation of beneficiaries out of poverty is a much more ambitious agenda. This paper proposes a simple policy framework highlighting the most common barriers for productive employment. It also reviews the topic of incentive compatibility of income support schemes and employment support programs that are used to address them. The paper finds that, especially in middle income countries, activation and active labor market programs play an important role connecting individuals to jobs and improving earnings opportunities. In low income countries, these programs are far from being a panacea to graduate beneficiaries out of poverty. Furthermore, only scant evidence is available on the pathways to graduation and significant knowledge gaps remain. More cross-disciplinary research is needed to strengthen the evidence base and develop recommendations for different contexts and capacity levels.
Publication(Washington, DC: World Bank, 2012) Almeida, Rita ; Behrman, Jere ; Robalino, David ; Almeida, Rita ; Behrman, Jere ; Robalino, DavidThis book addresses the question of how to build and upgrade job relevant skills. Specifically, the authors focus on three types of training programs relevant for individuals who are leaving formal general schooling or are already in the labor market: pre-employment technical and vocational education and training (TVET); on-the-job training (OJT); and training-related active labor market programs (ALMPs). ALMPs are usually of shorter duration and target individuals who are seeking a second chance and who do not have access to TVET or OJT; these are often low-skilled unemployed or informal workers. Contrary to training-related ALMPs, pre-employment TVET is usually offered within the formal schooling track and tends to be administered by the ministries of education. The book discusses the main justifications for these programs and how they relate to market failures that can lead to underinvestment in training and misalignment between supply and demand for skills. Unfortunately, governments are also prone to failure and many of the programs that countries have adopted today are part of the problem and not the solution. This book proposes options to improve the design and implementation of current skills development systems. Clearly, the authors cannot cover all issues in detail. Training methods among TVET, OJT, and ALMP programs are quite different, ranging from classroom instruction, laboratory research, TVET workshops, and apprenticeship arrangements and internships in firms. All have different challenges and specificities. The report highlights the most important design features of the different programs and points to the main knowledge gaps and areas for future research and analysis. The book is organized into five chapters. Following this overview, chapter two introduces the policy framework that guides the analysis in the book. This framework describes the main market and government failures that require attention and identifies potential interventions to address them. Chapter's three to five then discuss the main challenges facing, respectively, TVET, OJT, and training-related ALMP programs and outlines recommendations to address them. The rest of this overview summarizes the main messages from each of the chapters and in the last section outlines the main knowledge gaps and proposes an agenda for future research and policy analysis.
Publication(World Bank, Washington, D.C., 2004-04) Almeida, RitaForeign 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.
Publication(World Bank, Washington, DC, 2014-03) Hirshleifer, Sarojini ; McKenzie, David ; Almeida, Rita ; Ridao-Cano, CristobalA 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.
Publication(American Economic Association, 2012-07) Almeida, Rita ; Carniero, PedroEnforcement 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(World Bank, Washington, DC, 2007-06) Almeida, Rita ; Galasso, EmanuelaOne 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.
Publication(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(World Bank, Washington, DC, 2005-10) Almeida, RitaThe 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.
Publication(World Bank, Washington, DC, 2005-10) Almeida, Rita ; Carneiro, PedroThis 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.
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, MahdiIn 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.