Omidyar Network: Examining the Returns of Tertiary Education in Brazil

By Emily Feenstra, Investment Associate, Omidyar Network, and Princess Adentan.

Image source: Omidyar Report

Central to Omidyar Network’s education investment strategy is the belief that all children deserve quality educational opportunities, yet a persistent opportunity gap exists between high-income and low-to-middle-income (LMI) families globally. Although this gap takes different shapes in each country, the effects are similar — opportunity gaps manifest as income gaps later in life.

Brazil, a country of focus for Omidyar Network, frequently ranks among the most unequal countries in the world. In 2014, the OECD released a report highlighting that Brazilian workers experience one of the largest differences in earnings according to their level of education; tertiary-educated Brazilians earn more than 2.5 times the income of those with upper-secondary education. But do all learners have access to the tertiary education that is so crucial to higher earnings later in life?

In order to answer this question and implement our strategy successfully, strong baseline data is critical — yet in this case the available data was lacking. So, to understand the nuances of the educational opportunity and income gap in Brazil, in late 2016, Omidyar Network conducted a survey in conjunction with the RIWI Corporation.

For a summary of the key findings, please see the original article published on Medium.