Silva, Joana

Latin America and Caribbean
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Development Economics, Labor Economics, Social Protection, Human Development, International Trade
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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.
Citations 50 Scopus

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Now showing 1 - 4 of 4
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    Trust in Government and Support for Redistribution
    (World Bank, Washington, DC, 2016-05) Silva, Joana ; Morgandi, Matteo ; Levin, Victoria
    In 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.
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    Cash Transfers and Formal Labor Markets: Evidence from Brazil
    (World Bank, Washington, DC, 2021-09) Gerard, François ; Naritomi, Joana ; Silva, Joana
    Cash 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.
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    Wage Inequality in Latin America: Understanding the Past to Prepare for the Future
    (Washington, DC: World Bank, 2018) Messina, Julian ; Silva, Joana
    What caused the decline in wage inequality of the 2000s in Latin America? Looking to the future, will the current economic slowdown be regressive? Wage Inequality in Latin America: Understanding the Past to Prepare for the Future addresses these two questions by reviewing relevant literature and providing new evidence on what we know from the conceptual, empirical, and policy perspectives. The answer to the first question can be broken down into several parts, although the bottom line is that the changes in wage inequality resulted from a combination of three forces: (a) education expansion and its effect on falling returns to skill (the supply-side story); (b) shifts in aggregate domestic demand; and (c) exchange rate appreciation from the commodity boom and the associated shift to the nontradable sector that changed interfirm wage differences. Other forces had a non-negligible but secondary role in some countries, while they were not present in others. These include the rapid increase of the minimum wage and a rapid trend toward formalization of employment, which played a supporting role but only during the boom. Understanding the forces behind recent trends also helps to shed light on the second question. The analysis in this volume suggests that the economic slowdown is putting the brakes on the reduction of inequality in Latin America and will likely continue to do so—but it might not actually reverse the region’s movement toward less wage inequality.
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    Twenty Years of Wage Inequality in Latin America
    (World Bank, Washington, DC, 2019-09) Messina, Julian ; Silva, Joana
    This paper documents an inverse U-shape in the evolution of wage inequality in Latin America since 1995, with a sharp reduction starting in 2002. The Gini coefficient of wages increased from 42 to 44 between 1995 and 2002 and declined to 39 by 2015. Between 2002 and 2015, the 90/10 log hourly earnings ratio decreased by 26 percent. The decline since 2002 was characterized by rising wages across the board, but especially among those at the bottom of the wage distribution in each country. Triggered by a rapid expansion of educational attainment, the wages of college and high school graduates fell relative to those with primary education. The premium for labor market experience also fell significantly. But the compression of wages was not entirely driven by changes in the wage structure across skill groups. Two-thirds of the decline in the variance of wages took place within skill groups. Changes in the sectoral, occupational, and formal-informal composition of jobs matter for the process of reduction in inequality, but do not fully account for the fall in within-skill variance. Evidence using longitudinal matched employer-employee administrative data suggests that an important driver was falling wage dispersion across firms.