Latin America and Caribbean
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Fields of Specialization
Development Economics, Labor Economics, Social Protection, Human Development, International Trade
Latin America and Caribbean
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Last updated January 31, 2023
Joana Silva is a Senior Economist at the Office of the Chief Economist for Latin America and the Caribbean. Since joining the World Bank in 2007 as a Young Professional, Joana published several books and articles on a broad set of issues related to economic development, including labor economics, education/skills, social safety nets, poverty, inequality, political economy of economic reforms, firm dynamics and international trade. Her research has been published in professional journals such as the Journal of International Economics, Economics Letters, Review of World Economics and IZA Journal of Labor Policy. Book titles authored or coauthored by Joana include “Sustaining Employment and Wage Gains in Brazil: a Skills and Jobs Agenda”, “Inclusion and Resilience: The Way Forward for Social Safety Nets in the Middle East and North Africa” and “Striving for Better Jobs: The Challenge of Informality in the Middle East and North Africa”. While at the Bank she authored thematic Flagship Reports (e.g. as Task Team Leader for the 2013 MENA Development Report, the Brazil Skills & Jobs report), managed cross-sectorial lending projects and advisory activities (e.g. Task Team Leader for innovative labor and social protection projects), and contributed to a range of analytical studies on design and evaluation of social welfare systems, labor markets, political economy, international integration and investment climate. She holds a Ph.D. in Economics from the University of Nottingham. Prior to joining the World Bank, she also worked for the Globalization and Economic Policy Research Center at the University of Nottingham and the Inter-American Development Bank. She is fluent in Portuguese, French, English, and Spanish.
Publication Search Results
Now showing 1 - 10 of 16
Inclusion and Resilience : The Way Forward for Social Safety Nets in the Middle East and North Africa(Washington, DC: World Bank, 2013-05) Silva, Joana ; Levin, Victoria ; Morgandi, MatteoThe report aims to meet two broad objectives: (a) enhance knowledge about the current state of existing social safety nets (SSNs) and assess their effectiveness in responding to new and emerging challenges to the poor and vulnerable in the region by bringing together new evidence, data, and country-specific analysis; and (b) open up and inform a debate on feasible policy options to make SSNs in the Middle East and North Africa more effective and innovative. The first chapter, 'a framework for SSN reform,' describes and illustrates the reasons for the region's growing need for SSN reform and establishes the framework for renewed SSNs. It identifies key goals for SSNs (promoting social inclusion, livelihood, and resilience) and illustrates how these goals have been achieved in some parts of the region and elsewhere. The second chapter, 'key challenges that call for renewed SSNs,' analyzes the challenges facing the region's poor and vulnerable households, which SSNs could focus on as a priority. Two large groups are at higher-than-average poverty risk: children and those who live in rural or lagging areas. The third chapter, 'the current state of SSNs in the Middle East and North Africa,' analyzes SSN spending and assesses different aspects of the SSN systems' performance. The fourth chapter, 'the political economy of SSN reforms in the Middle East and North Africa: what do citizens want?' presents new evidence on citizens' preferences concerning redistribution and SSN design, using newly collected data. It also discusses how political economy considerations could be taken into account in designing renewed SSNs in the region. The fifth chapter, 'the way forward: how to make safety nets in the Middle East and North Africa more effective and innovative,' proposes an agenda for reform and the path for moving forward, using global experience and the evidence presented in the preceding chapters.
Publication(World Bank, Washington, DC, 2012-09) Silva, Joana ; Levin, Victoria ; Morgandi, MatteoThe Arab Spring and subsequent transitions provide opportunities for better governance, economies free of cronyism and more inclusive models of growth. Social Safety Nets (SSN) will be a key component of building more inclusive economies and societies. And here too there are grounds for optimism. Most SSN programs around the world were introduced during transition periods (post-Soviet independence, Indonesia's decentralization, and regime change in Brazil and Portugal), and have remained in place since. Effective SSNs can break the cycle of intergenerational poverty by helping families to keep children healthy and in school. SSNs and increased social services can also deal with spatial pockets of poverty in slums and rural areas by promoting the demand for social services and by building community assets. Most SSNs in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA SSNs) finance energy subsidies, crowding out more effective intervention. In addition to surveys, this study conducted a behavioral experiment among a representative sample of the Jordanian middle class, collecting information on preferences for redistribution to the poor using valuable trade-offs.
Publication(World Bank, Washington, D.C., 2012-11) Bastos, Paulo ; Silva, JoanaFixed costs associated with learning about demand and setting up distribution networks are expected to be lower when there are more potential contacts in the destination market, suggesting a greater probability of market entry and larger export revenues. The authors match historically-determined emigration stocks with detailed firm-level data from Portugal to examine the effect of migrant networks on these export outcomes. They find that larger stocks of emigrants in a given destination increase export participation and intensity. In addition, they show that the former of these effects tends to be more pronounced among firms that are more likely to have close ties with the emigrants. These results are consistent with a multiple-destination version of the Melitz (2003) model featuring market-specific entry costs and idiosyncratic firm-destination demand shocks.
Publication(World Bank, Washington, DC, 2011-12) Gatti, Roberta ; Angel-Urdinola, Diego F. ; Silva, Joana ; Bodor, AndrasThis quick note provides an overview of the World Bank report striving for better jobs: the challenge of informality in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA). The report was completed as a revolutionary wave of demonstrations and protests swept across the Arab world. Millions of young people were chanting 'dignity' and 'social justice' in the region, underlining deep-seated feelings of exclusion and inequality of opportunities. Demanding democracy, human rights, and better governance, young Arabs were also striving to realize their economic aspirations in a region rich in human and physical capital. However, while there has been economic growth for a number of years in MENA countries, this has not led to an adequate number of good jobs and has succeeded, at best, in generating low-quality, informal jobs.
Publication(World Bank, Washington, DC, 2009-05) Benhassine, Najy ; Blomquist, John D. ; Ezzine, Mourad ; Grun, Rebekka E. ; Jaramillo, Adriana ; Poupart, Nadine T. ; Silva, Joana C.G.Generating more and better quality jobs with higher productivity probably constitutes the most important challenge the Maghreb countries will face over the next decade. Despite relatively high and sustained economic growth since 2004, employment creation has been insufficient to significantly reduce unemployment, or to absorb the flow of youth joining the labor market. As a result, the unemployment rate remains high among youth, and has been rapidly increasing among secondary education students and university graduates. In addition, most new jobs are of low productivity, often in the informal sector and benefiting the less educated.
Publication(World Bank, Washington, DC, 2014-06) Bastos, Paulo ; Silva, Joana ; Verhoogen, EricThis paper examines the extent to which the destination of exports matters for the input prices paid by firms, using detailed customs and firm-product-level data from Portugal. The authors use exchange rate movements as a source of variation in export destinations and find that exporting to richer countries leads firms to charge more for outputs and pay higher prices for inputs, other things equal. The results are supportive of the hypothesis that an exogenous increase in average destination income leads firms to raise the average quality of goods they produce and to purchase higher-quality inputs.
Publication(World Bank, Washington, DC, 2014-08-26) Gatti, Roberta ; Angel-Urdinola, Diego F. ; Silva, Joana ; Bodor, AndrasEconomic growth has been sustained for many years pre-crisis in the region, but this has not resulted in the creation of an adequate number of jobs and has succeeded, at best, in generating low-quality, informal jobs. The report addresses one margin of exclusion: informal employment and the vulnerabilities and lack of opportunities associated with it. The report analyzes the constraints that prevent informal workers from becoming formal and discusses policy options to effectively address these constraints. This report looks at informality through a human development angle and focuses particularly on informal employment. Informality is a complex phenomenon, comprising unpaid workers and workers without social security or health insurance coverage, small or micro-firms that operate outside the regulatory framework and large registered firms that may partially evade corporate taxes and social security contributions. The first section provides a detailed profile of informal workers in the region. The second section describes the characteristics of informality in micro-firms that operate outside the regulatory framework and in larger firms that do not fully comply with social security contribution requirements and tax obligations. The third section presents informality and the firm. The fourth section focuses on informality: choice or exclusion? The fifth section discusses policy options for effectively expanding coverage of health insurance and pension systems and promoting the creation of better quality jobs.
Publication(World Bank, Washington, DC, 2016-05) Bastos, Paulo ; Silva, Joana ; Proenca, RafaelThis paper examines whether export participation matters for job training. The paper draws on longitudinal worker-firm data for Brazilian manufacturing, linked with detailed records on training activity from the main provider. The analysis uses industry-specific exchange rate movements to generate exogenous variation in export status at the firm-level. The findings indicate that export participation tends to increase the share of workers who receive technical upgrading. The results also reveal that technical upgrading has positive returns to trainees within exporting firms. These findings support the hypothesis that exporting requires skill upgrading, and suggest that this is partially achieved by training firms' existing workforce.
Publication(World Bank, Washington, DC, 2016-05) Silva, Joana ; Morgandi, Matteo ; Levin, VictoriaIn many countries safety nets consist predominantly of universal subsidies on food and fuel. A key question for policy makers willing to shift to targeted safety nets is under what conditions middle-class citizens would be supportive of redistributive programs. Results from a behavioral experiment based on a nationally representative sample in Jordan reveal that increasing transparency in benefit delivery makes middle-class citizens (particularly among the youth and low-trust individuals) more willing to forgo their own welfare to benefit the poor. Moreover, increasing transparency enhances the relative support for cash-based safety nets, which have greater impact on poverty compared with in-kind transfers, but may be perceived as more prone to elite capture.
Publication(World Bank, Washington, DC, 2021-09) Gerard, François ; Naritomi, Joana ; Silva, JoanaCash transfer programs have expanded widely in developing countries and have been credited for sizable reductions in poverty. However, their potential disincentive effects on beneficiaries’ labor supply have spurred a heated policy debate. This paper studies the impact of a large-scale program Bolsa Familia in Brazil on local labor markets in a context where such concerns could be particularly strong: eligibility is means-tested and the paper focuses on the formal labor market, where earnings are more easily verifiable. Yet, the analysis finds that an expansion of Bolsa Familia increased local formal employment, using variation in the size of the reform across municipalities. The evidence is consistent with multiplier effects of cash transfers in the local economy, which dominate potential negative effects on formal labor supply among beneficiaries.