Can Arts-Based Interventions Enhance Labor Market Outcomes among Youth? Evidence from a Randomized Trial in Rio de Janeiro
This paper provides findings of a small-scale, innovative labor training program that uses expressive arts and theatre as a pedagogical tool. The corresponding life skills training component is combined with a technical component teaching vocational skills. To our knowledge, this is the first paper to rigorously evaluate the effectiveness of a training program constructed around expressive arts. Using a randomized assignment of favela youth into program and control groups, we look at the short-run treatment eff ects on a comprehensive set of outcomes including employment and earnings as well as measures of personality traits and risk behavior. We find positive short-run employment and earnings impacts five months after the program finalized; no impacts are found for shorter periods. These short-run impacts are economically very large, compared to those typically found in the literature: a 33.3 per cent increase in the probability of being employed, and a 23.6 per cent increase in earnings. We find no evidence of significant program impacts on other outcomes, including personality related traits, providing evidence that these traits may not be malleable for young adults in the short-run. We argue that the estimated labor market impacts are due to a combination of both skills formation and signaling of higher quality workers to employers.
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