The impacts of studying abroad: evidence from a government-sponsored scholarship program in Brazil

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This paper investigates the impact of the Science without Borders (Ciência sem Fronteiras - CSF) program on participants’ post-graduation enrollment, employment, and entrepreneurship. The program was launched in 2011 to increase students’ human capital and interest in science and postgraduate education studies through a substan tial increase in scholarships for Brazilians to carry out part of their undergraduate studies abroad. We exploit variation in the approval rate across CSF selection calls for the same destination country and year and combine seventeen public and private administrative records to track CSF candidates’ outcomes up to eight years after the call. The main results suggest that the program did not achieve its goals of in creasing approved student enrollment in postgraduate education programs in Brazil. Even though the program could have improved student skills and acted as a market signaling, we do not find effects on the probability of working in the formal labor market, or as formal entrepreneurs. Using detailed data from one top university, we show that approved students graduate more often, but take longer to graduate, which may have negative impacts on their labor market outcomes. Finally, although we cannot rule out that students moved to a foreign country after the program, we show that the likelihood of this event may have decreased over time.

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