The Cost of Opportunity: Access to Higher Education in Brazil (2018-2019)

Brazil in the early 21st century faces challenges of great magnitude, and the expanded system of federal universities is expected to play a fundamental role in confronting them. The hopeful vision of a better future, with development and social justice, draws sustenance from a successful process of democratization since 1985, important economic advances and the positive impact of redistributive public policies. Yet existing pessimism and frustrations are more than justified by the persistence of social and racial inequalities, inefficient administration and concerns about environmental sustainability. Moreover, Brazil is passing through an accelerated demographic transition. The future of the country, to a great extent, depends on the degree of access to and quality of education.

This Bass Connections project began in 2016-2017, in collaboration with faculty, graduate students and undergraduates at the Multidisciplinary Institute of the Federal Rural University of Rio de Janeiro (IM/UFRRJ). In 2018-2019, the project team developed causal estimates of the impacts of higher education policies on beneficiaries’ labor market performance. Using a research design that combined quasiexperimental econometric methods with a combination of educational and labor market data, the team conducted an assessment of the impacts of higher education policies in Brazil.


Fall 2018 – Spring 2019

Team Outputs 

The Cost of Opportunity (talk by Vanessa Aguedelo and Joseph Beck, EHDx, Duke University, April 9, 2019)

This Team in the News

Team Investigates Access to Higher Education in Brazil

This project team was originally part of the Education & Human Development theme of Bass Connections, which ended in 2022. See earlier related team, The Cost of Opportunity? Higher Education in the Baixada Fluminense (2017-2018).

Bass Connections team in Brazil by Adair Necalli

Team Leaders

  • Marcos De Almeida Rangel, Sanford School of Public Policy

/graduate Team Members

  • Maria Ramirez, International Dev Policy, Masters of Public Policy

/undergraduate Team Members

  • Vanessa Agudelo, Public Policy Studies (AB)
  • Alexis Angel, Computer Science (BS)
  • Joseph Beck, Public Policy Studies (AB)
  • Jackson Bloomfeld, Computer Science (BS)
  • Aditya Mantri , Economics (BS)
  • Ashley Wilson, Sociology (AB)

/zcommunity Team Members

  • Federal Rural University of Rio de Janeiro
  • Andrew Guinn, Graduate Student, UNC-Chapel Hill