JOI Brazil: Helping shape the Brazilian labor policy landscape

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A man rides a bicycle with a red food delivery backpack.
Alf Ribeiro (

2024 marks the third anniversary of the Jobs and Opportunities Initiative Brazil (JOI Brazil), an initiative launched by J-PAL Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) in May 2021, with the generous support of Fundação Arymax, B3 Social, Fundação Tide Setubal, Potencia Ventures, the Inter-American Development Bank, and Insper. Over these three years, it has operated with the conviction that a quality job is a fundamental asset in people’s lives but also the understanding that there are challenges in promoting access to stable and dignified work opportunities for the entire Brazilian population. Policies and programs must be proven effective in generating employment and income. We seek assertive responses to support the productive inclusion of the population, especially those who are economically vulnerable, contributing to the improvement of their quality of life.

JOI Brazil engages and strengthens the ecosystem of organizations working on productive inclusion, kickstarting strategic partnerships with governments and consolidating a diverse research portfolio. From now on, we will focus more on transforming  academic research into action. The dissemination of evidence, influence on public policy, and the use of knowledge by policymakers are our top priorities as we enter a new phase of our work. In this blog, we share what JOI Brazil has accomplished so far—and what we hope to accomplish in the coming years. 

Research portfolio funded by JOI Brazil

Building a solid body of evidence is essential to inform the design of more effective social programs and public policies in Brazil. We have already completed four cycles of research funding, resulting in a portfolio of seventeen studies, eleven of which are pilots or complete evaluations (full RCTs). This has doubled the volume of J-PAL-funded research in Brazil.

The JOI Brazil portfolio has projects that ask policy-relevant questions, including: a) What are the effects of coding bootcamp courses on the employability of vulnerable young people in the technology sector?; b) What are the effects of technical education integrated into the high school curriculum on young people's employability?; c) How do gig economy workers offer labor? Does providing information change their decisions?

We have also seen the first completion of an RCT study funded by JOI Brazil by researchers Deivis Angeli [JMP], Ieda Matavelli and Fernando Secco, which investigates how stigma about one’s home address might affect labor outcomes. The research has been featured in Nexo and its results were presented first-hand at a closed event, highlighted by our partner, Insper. We look forward to the completion of other studies in our portfolio and to seeing the impact they might have on shaping effective policies and programs in Brazil.

Social incubation: Cultivating policy-relevant research

JOI Brazil's social incubation is a component of the initiative that combines training courses, technical assistance for project development, targeted and strategic searches, and matchmaking between partners and academics  to achieve a triple objective: mapping stakeholders, strengthening the Brazilian labor ecosystem, and fostering new randomized evaluations. Over the past three years, its focus has evolved according to the needs of the initiative, the ecosystem of organizations, and the academics involved. 

Initially, there was an urgency to map companies, NGOs, governments, and start-ups. We also needed to promote JOI Brazil's research portfolio. Understanding that Brazil's culture of impact evaluation was still under development, we opted to engage with more well-established organizations. As the portfolio became more consolidated, we shifted our strategy to focus on governments, recognizing that they might be less prepared and require more support to conduct impact evaluations. Consequently, we made fewer demands on mature organizations to allow for broader engagement. 

Currently, as more of the initiative's funded projects publish results, we are poised to take on a new role: building strong relationships, disseminating evidence, publicizing research results, and influencing policy formulation. It will be crucial to have systems and relationships in place to ensure that the knowledge produced in the past three years is accessible to and utilized by policymakers.

The strength of social incubation and synergy with J-PAL initiatives
JOI Brazil approved a seed study in which the research team seeks to understand the role of cognitive work (like planning, anticipating needs, coordinating responsibilities) in domestic work among men and women. To provide additional support, we connected the research team to Instituto Cactus, an NGO interested in the topic, and we worked with the J-PAL LAC Government Partnerships team in Brazil to bring the project to the Municipality of Niterói.

This is an example of how social incubation can foster new RCT studies in the country. It also reflects the accumulated knowledge of JOI Brazil regarding the Brazilian labor market ecosystem, its strategic understanding of the research interests of academics, and the deepening of synergies between J-PAL LAC teams in Brazil. 

Influence on public policy: Looking to the future

As part of  the next phase of the initiative, we are approaching our efforts to influence public policy through four distinct axes: i) advocacy; ii) consensus-building,; iii) forming strategic partnerships; and iv) dissemination of research results. In terms of advocacy, actions with broad scope and reach stand out, including trying to reach not only the public sector but also multilateral bodies and global discussion forums. To build consensus,  we seek to reconcile the evidence we already know with open questions, and, whenever possible, we aim to create connections with studies produced by the initiative. When it comes to  strategic partnerships, we will carry out individualized and targeted actions aimed primarily at developing research projects. Finally, the axis of research results dissemination will spread knowledge related to specific evaluations, targeting different audiences.

Strengthening JOI Brazil's capacity to influence public policy is a priority. Much of this work is associated with the conclusion of research projects, the publication of a research paper, "Evidence in Labor Market Policies and Implications for Brazil," in co-authorship with the Inter-American Development Bank, deepening partnerships, and reaching new audiences. In the coming years, we hope to collaborate closely with our partners in impact evaluation and in the formulation and adaptation of evidence-based public policy that can advance labor outcomes for all Brazilians.