The aim of this paper is to offer an alternative to the ethnic and/or racial identity question in the census that helps avoid social fragmentation and that, at the same time, may allow governments to fullfil their own objectives, their social and political commitments at an international, as well at a national level. This alternative is based on the conceptual differentiation between culture and identity and it states that public policy can be more adequate if it is directed to the cultural repertoires instead to the identity groups. Aditionally, it is suggested that the census does not only reflects reality, but it also creates it. This fact helps promoting a groupist vision of society, which means that phenomena such as racism, ethnicity, discrimination, etc. cannot be understood without taking for granted the existence of groups. Such an emphasis on groups breaks the society into impervious and fixed groups, and it has an important impact for social cohesion.

The aim of this study is to analyze the influence of the political discourse in the construction of racial identities in the city of La Paz. Focusing on the debate generated about the Law against Racial Discrimination and all kinds of Discrimination, approved in October of 2010 as a case study, an analysis of the political discourse reflected on TV broadcasts has been made and used to see in which ways it influences, or not, the construction of racial identities in the population of the city of La Paz. Focus groups have been used to pick up the thoughts and insights of such population. The research concludes that even though the political discourse does influence racial constructions, people still challenge official racial discourse and keep their agency regarding the racial constructions that shape their social world. The title has been inspired on Javier Sanjines’ book “Mestizaje Upside-down” in which the author explains that “mestizaje never arrives for Bolivians”. This idea can be reflected on this research which shows that the ideal and the concrete expressions of mestizaje are a long way apart.

This paper attempts to understand the policy making process in Bolivia. At first in relation to its dynamic, i.e. regarding its constituent stages, the stakeholders, the role of context and the level of institutionalization. Secondly, it is to see what role plays Evidence Based Research in this process, regarding the practice of using it, the stakeholders' capabilities of using it, the demand and supply of evidence and finally its quality.

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Using firm level data from the 2010 Enterprise Survey for Bolivia, we attempt to find evidence to support the idea that distinct formal firms (according to their size) have a distinct likelihood of facing obstacles. We propose that a potential endogeneity between firms’ constraints and firm size should be considered. After calculating estimations from an IV-ordered probit with an ordinal endogenous regressor, the results suggest that the firm size affects the constraint level reported by firms, but not for all kind of obstacles. ‘Corruption’, ‘Political Instability’, and ‘Crime, Theft and Disorder’ are obstacles common to all firms; ‘Electricity’ and ‘Transportation’ are binding constraints to medium and large firms; and ‘Access to Financing’ is a binding constraint to small firms. These findings are important because they can be directly extrapolated to public policy that is focused on the performance of firms.

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One of the major constraints to addressing child malnutrition is the lack of necessary information to suitably target resources. Please note that the only data source for this information in Bolivia is through the National Survey of Demographics and Health (DHS) which achieves at most representative estimates meaning in a departmental levels, both urban and rural. This article uses the small area estimation technique of Elbers, Lanjouw and Lanjouw (2002 and 2003) which combines survey and individual census data in order to obtain estimates at lower levels of aggregation. DHS is used in its fourth version, in conjunction with information from the National Census of Population and Housing 2001, in order to provide useful information at a municipal level.

This paper attempts to identify the effect of one of the most popular programs of temporary employment implemented in Bolivia, the Emergency Plan of National Employment (PLANE), on per capita calorie intake, future employment prospects and earnings. Applying estimation and inference methods that assume unconfoundedness, we found that the PLANE was a successful smoothing consumption strategy - it increased per capita calorie intake in households where at least one member participated in the program, but it did not have any effect on the post-program likelihood employment or the post-program earnings. This evidence suggests that, although public employment programs may be useful as social protection policies in recession times and help to smooth poor household’s consumption where untrained persons are the breadwinners, they are not good alternatives to improve the employability of vulnerable populations.

This paper studies the relationship between entrepreneurship, economic mobility and class according to earnings in one of the most informal country in the world: Bolivia. We argue that entrepreneurs should be defined not only by the act of undertaking a business venture but also by the motivation to pursue a profit opportunity and shows that both, tenure profiles and mobility premiums in monthly and hourly earnings reveal that not every person who provides employment for herself pursue a profit opportunity. On the contrary, most self-employed workers (own account and cooperative) start a business just to have a job and incomes. Only for a few self-employed workers who create at least one source of employment (employers), paid employment in the formal sector is not a clearly superior alternative. Once we identify a set of "real" entrepreneurs, we use panel data and pseudo-panel to analyze their economic mobility in comparison to other types of self-employed workers and employees. Our estimates of time (in)dependence parameters show that employers are much more mobile relative to other occupations in the labor income distribution but as mobile as salaried workers in the overall per-capita household income distribution. In other words, employers have, on average, greater unpredictability of labor income but a more stable aggregate household income. Using these estimates to analyze their upward/downward positional mobility in class defined by income, we find that employers are much more likely to move upwards and end in the upper class income, both in the labor income distribution and in the aggregate income. Finally, we show that, despite their significantly different mobility patterns, employers do not display remarkable differences in their socioeconomic profile relative to their counterparts in other types of self-employment except in two particular covariates: educational attainment and health.

This document presents an impact evaluation of the pilot program Mi Primer Empleo Digno (MPED) –My first real job- an active labor market program that provides classroom training and paid internships to low income youth from January 2009 to June 2010 in main cities in Bolivia. Taking advantage of the discontinuities generated by the method of selecting participants, we use a fuzzy regression discontinuity design (FRDD) to estimate the "Local Average Treatment Effect" (LATE) of the treatment for people who meet the selection rules in MPED post-program employability as measured both post-program participation, employability and “formal” job chances and post-program earnings. We found that people who meet the selection rules have increased their participation, employability and "formal" job chances but only temporarily, for instance, our LATE estimates are significant one quarter after the program finished, but we found no evidence of permanent long term effects. The LATE estimates are not significant two quarters after the program ended.

This paper builds a multidimensional poverty measure for Bolivia based on fundamental rights established in the 2008 Constitution that can be measured in surveys. It documents the changes in poverty observed in Bolivia during the last decade using a multidimensional approach. In particular, we use the Hernani-Limarino (2010) analysis of monetary poverty evolution with an analysis that incorporates five non-monetary dimensions: access to education, short-term social security (health), long-term social security (pensions), adequate housing and basic services (electricity, water, sanitation and telecommunications). Our analysis shows that despite the observed reduction in monetary poverty, non-monetary poverty has remained stubbornly high during the last decade in Bolivia.


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This paper uses a simple labor supply model to identify the reservation wage distribution. The reservation wage distribution of the non-employed population (both unemployed and inactive) is essential not only to understand the nature of non-employment but also to define wages in employment programs to attract different population groups. This paper uses the Quarterly Urban Employment Survey to illustrate the proposed methodology. Estimates reveal that household high reliance on labor earnings determines reservation wage level to be much lower than expected wages. It is also noticeable that the reservation wages for the inactive population stochastically dominate the distribution for the unemployed population, and in turn, the latter stochastically dominates the distribution for the employed population. These results imply that a large proportion of the employed population can not afford the costs of finding better employment opportunities, while the unemployed population has a larger expected range.

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ARU is a Think Tank Initiative Grantee

ARU was selected as a recipient of the Think Tank Initiative Grantee Program of the International Development Research Centre (IDRC) of Canada.


Network on Inequality and Poverty (NIP)

The Network of Inequality and Poverty (NIP), composed by LACEA/IDB/WB/UNDP, is a set of initiatives aiming to develop knowledge and experiences in the study of poverty, inequality, social exclusion causes and consequences, as well as, the whole set of policies, institutions and social structures that influence the dynamics and the impact of social action.


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