Through Rainy Days: Advancing Education and Health amidst an Unfavorable Local Economy

Ana Paula Karruz


ABSTRACT Introduction: While life standards have substantially ameliorated in Brazil, the last few years witnessed a slow-growing economy, raising concerns on whether educational and public health improvements will endure. Questions are posed regarding how governments countrywide may shelter against economic turbulence and keep improving social conditions through rainy days. In particular, what public policy can do to sustain or even increase human development (HD) in the absence of economic growth (EG)? Materials and Methods: This study explores the sociodemographic and budgetary traits of Brazilian municipalities that experienced less-than-expected growth in the Municipal Human Development Index (MHDI)’s income dimension, nonetheless advanced more than expected on schooling and longevity. Municipalities whose mean per capita income advanced less than foreseen were grouped according to growth in MHDI’s social dimensions. Chances of falling into a given group were estimated through a multinomial logit model. Results: The analysis suggests that, in a stalled or slow economy, the probability of social improvement is sensitive to families’ income level, educational achievement in households with children, local budget composition and apportionment, age and size of population, and already existing HD levels. Discussion: I argue that non-income influences - namely, public policy from central and local governments - can have substantive effects on HD, containing losses or even promoting HD advancements amidst an unfavorable economy. Such assertion builds upon works from Development Studies, adapting them from the cross-country perspective to the cross-municipality level. Additionally, research on decentralization and fiscal federalism provide grounds for adjusting the theoretical model. A more balanced countrywide distribution of family and government resources foreshadows lesser vulnerability through rainy days.

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Revista de Sociologia e Política. ISSN: 0104-4478 (versão impressa)
1678-9873 (versão online)