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: August 7, 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 217 Scopus

Publication Search Results

Now showing 1 - 10 of 12
  • 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
    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
    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.
  • Publication
    Inequality and Employment in a Dual Economy: Enforcement of Labor Regulation in Brazil
    (World Bank, Washington, DC, 2007-11-17) Almeida, Rita
    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.
  • Publication
    Jump-Starting Self-Employment? Evidence Among Welfare Participants in Argentina
    (World Bank, Washington, DC, 2007-06) Almeida, Rita
    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.
  • Publication
    Openness and Technological Innovations in Developing Countries : Evidence from Firm-Level Surveys
    (World Bank, Washington, DC, 2006-08) Almeida, Rita; Fernandes, Ana Margarida
    The authors analyze the role of international technological diffusion for firm-level technological innovations in several developing countries. Their findings show that, after controlling for firm, industry, and country characteristics, exporting and importing activities are important channels for the diffusion of technology. They also find evidence that the majority of foreign-owned firms are significantly less likely to engage in technological innovations than minority foreign-owned firms or domestic-owned firms. The authors interpret this finding as evidence that the technology transferred from multinational parents to majority-owned subsidiaries is more mature than that transferred to minority-owned subsidiaries. This finding supports the idea that equity joint ventures maximize technology transfers to local firms.
  • Publication
    The Return to Firm Investments in Human Capital
    (2009) Almeida, Rita
    In this paper, we estimate the rate of return to firm investments in human capital in the form of formal job training. We use a panel of large firms with detailed information on the duration of training, the direct costs of training, and several firm characteristics. Our estimates of the return to training are substantial (8.6%) for those providing training. Results suggest that formal job training is a good investment for these firms possibly yielding comparable returns to either investments in physical capital or investments in schooling.
  • Publication
    The Return to Firm Investment in Human Capital
    (World Bank, Washington, DC, 2006-02) Almeida, Rita
    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.
  • Publication
    Enforcement of Labor Regulation and Firm Size
    (2009) Almeida, Rita
    This paper investigates how the enforcement of labor regulation affects firm size and other firm characteristics in Brazil. We explore firm level data on employment, capital, and output, city level data on economic characteristics, and new administrative data measuring enforcement of regulation at the city level. Since enforcement may be endogenous, we instrument this variable with the distance between the city where the firm is located and surrounding enforcement offices, while controlling for a rich set of city characteristics (such as past levels of informality in the city). We present suggestive evidence of the validity of this instrument. We find that stricter enforcement of labor regulation constrains firm size, and leads to higher unemployment.
  • Publication
    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.