Date of Award

Fall 2007

Project Type


Program or Major


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

First Advisor

Karen Conway


High levels of infant mortality and high participation of informal workers in the labor market are living conditions faced by many developing countries. In Ceara State - Brazil, their trends during the last three decades have followed opposite directions. Whereas infant mortality has decreased substantially since the 1980s, suggesting that the country is on the right path to development, the labor market has presented increasing levels of informality, which challenges traditional theories of development. The essays of this thesis aim to investigate some aspects of these two phenomena. In particular, the first essay offers an approach to analyze if the health care program known as the Community Health Worker Program has been an important factor explaining the downward trend in infant mortality. Moreover, it provides a framework to identify if the effectiveness of this program is under-estimated when traditional methods of evaluation do not consider its spatial spillover effect. This effect occurs when improvements in this health care program in one municipality affect not only infant mortality in that municipality but also the infant mortality of neighboring municipalities. The second essay studies heterogeneity among informal workers and investigates possibilities of social interactions and spatial segmentation among different types of workers. Besides sharing the same study site (Ceara Sate - Brazil), both essays incorporate and empirically verify the hypotheses that neighborhood conditions (at city or urban sector levels) play an important role in: (i) amplifying the benefits of health care programs, and (ii) affecting workers' behavior in the labor market.