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Three essays on Brazilian social security policies, education and labor market

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Title: Three essays on Brazilian social security policies, education and labor market
Author(s): Deliberalli, Priscila
Director of Research: Lubotsky, Darren H.
Doctoral Committee Chair(s): Lubotsky, Darren H.
Doctoral Committee Member(s): Powers, Elizabeth T.; Brown, Jeffrey R.; Baer, Werner W.
Department / Program: Economics
Discipline: Economics
Degree Granting Institution: University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Degree: Ph.D.
Genre: Dissertation
Subject(s): Social Security Brazil Education Brazilian labor market Public policies evaluation Child labor
Abstract: The main purpose of this research is to analyze the impact of different public policies on the Brazilian labor market using rigorous econometric techniques to study the Brazilian public sector. A clear theoretical and empirical comprehension is crucial when designing policies to mitigate social problems, as well-intentioned policies may exacerbate the original problems if they are not correctly designed. The first chapter of this research studies the impact on the labor market of a public Social Security system that provides disability insurance benefits. This study searches for possible worker incentives to leave the labor force temporarily by comparing workers with the same health. Additionally, this study analyzes the extent to which workers with poor health continue to work because they lack social security coverage. I analyze the Brazilian disability insurance system, searching for possible incentives created by the system. The empirical analysis will be based on the system’s rule that only formal-economy workers are covered, taking advantage of the considerable proportion of workers in informal jobs in the Brazilian labor market; however, as formalized workers may differ in other ways from workers in the informal sector, the approach will account for this heterogeneity. The results reveal that workers in the formal sector are more likely to take leave, even after controlling for health. This difference reveals the effects of such social protection systems on the labor market and, at the same time, reveals the inequality in opportunities faced by informal-sector workers. Moreover, as having a formal job does not affect workers’ behavior when they have health problems, significant differences in the number of workers that take leave in the formal and informal sectors are not explained by differences in health status among these workers. The second chapter of this research studies the effect of a series of changes to the Brazilian old-age pension on child labor and school enrollment. Child labor is still a considerable problem in Brazilian society. This article analyzes the impact of the 1991 reform of the Brazilian rural pension system on child labor, literacy and school attendance. The 1991 social-security reform represents a good opportunity to investigate how income is allocated between household members because the reform generated an exogenous income shock: it decreased the minimum age for old-age pension eligibility and substantially increased the value of the minimum benefit. A significant proportion of Brazilian households, especially in rural areas, are composed of a mix of adults, children and elderly family members. Therefore, any changes in social-security benefits and eligibility rules may affect not only the beneficiaries but the other household members, as well. The results reveal an improvement in the educational attainments of children living with eligible males. Moreover, eligible females helped their grandchildren to leave the labor market in cases of child labor and facilitated their granddaughters’ educations. The analysis of the impact on different socioeconomic levels shows that the impacts are concentrated in the lowest socioeconomic quintile. In contrast to what is found in the literature, our estimates suggest that men dedicate their additional income to their granddaughters’ educations. One possible explanation is that men and women have different bargaining powers inside the family. There is evidence that the presence of female heads of household explain why eligible females appear to favor their granddaughter’s education and to favor their grandsons in cases of child labor. The third chapter recognizes the importance of education to the future of the children’s performance in the labor market; therefore, this study analyzes the impact of teacher quality on children’s school performance. The reform of the public education system has played a major role in policy debates in Brazil over the last several years, especially after the universalization of standardized student-achievement evaluations. The disappointing performance of students on language and mathematics tests and the gap between students from public and private schools on most measures of academic achievement are source of concern to parents and policymakers, increasing the pressure to restructure the entire system. Nearly everyone involved in education recognizes the importance of teacher quality to student achievement; however, little is known about how teachers affect different kinds of students. This lack of knowledge is especially worrying when the public school system implements accountability programs, using student achievement in teacher assessments and putting pressure for achievement-related accountability on individual teachers and schools. The measure of the impact of teacher quality on students is not straightforward, as we cannot simply compare groups of students from different teachers. Aside from teacher quality, the school performance of a group of students would depend on (i) the starting knowledge levels of students, (ii) their endowments (abilities and family backgrounds), and (iii) the teacher’s working conditions (for example, the school’s infrastructure). Therefore, the objective of this empirical analysis is to obtain estimates of differences in teacher contributions to student learning that account for the major sources of possible confounding from student heterogeneity and teacher assignment practices. The results reveal that low-achieving students exposed to better-quality teachers would expect to achieve higher standard deviations higher in Portuguese and mathematics test-score performances. At the same time, high achieving students have Portuguese and mathematics scores increased when exposed to better quality teachers; however, such impact represents a larger proportion of the average test score gains for high-achieving students. Moreover, if we analyze the impact of teachers on different students inside the same classroom, we also observe that students in the top of the test score distribution benefit more from better quality teachers.
Issue Date: 2012-05-22
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/2142/30974
Rights Information: COPYRIGHT 2012 PRISCILA DELIBERALLI
Date Available in IDEALS: 2012-05-22
Date Deposited: 2012-05
 

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