Rafael Pereira Oliveira
Master's – How far did the mud go? An Analysis of the Effects of a Tailings dam failure at Mariana, Brazil, on Educational Indicators
Advisor: Prof. Dr. Ariaster Baumgratz Chimeli
Comission: Profs. Drs. Naercio Aquino Menezes Filho, Reynaldo Fernandes and Cristine Campos de Xavier Pinto
On November 5, 2015, a tailings dam failure occurred at Mariana, in the Brazilian state of Minas Gerais (MG). The so-called “Fundão” dam stored 56 million cubic meters of mud-shaped tailings, of which around 39 were released. The socio-environmental disaster is considered the worst accident in history in terms of drained volume of mine tailings. At least 40 municipalities were affected in the Doce River watershed region, including both MG and Espírito Santo (ES) states. The available literature regarding natural disasters points to three main channels of negative effects on Education: (i) infrastructure damages; (ii) income negative shocks; and (iii) psychological damages derived from post-traumatic stress disorders (PTSD). It can be seen that Mariana (MG) disaster contemplates such channels, however, there are few studies analyzing in greater depth its impacts on Education. The purpose of this study is to test whether there is a causal relationship between the Fundão dam failure in Mariana (MG) and the academic performance of Middle School students in the affected municipalities. The research is based on educational indicators available at Censo Escolar and Sistema de Avaliação de Educação Básica (Saeb) database. Data is analyzed at the municipality, school and student level. The degree of mud exposure allows a geographical heterogeneity analysis of the disaster impacts. Both a Difference-in-Difference (DD) and a Synthetic Control (SC), focused on Mariana (MG) municipality, models are undertaken. The geographical disaggregation according to mud exposure though points to heterogeneous effects highlighting the importance of post-disaster public policy to take into account the region-specific characteristics. The results at the school level suggest that disapproval rates in Middle Schools may have risen in the municipalities affected by the mud, but without occupation next to the Doce river. In the municipalities next to the Fundão dam we observe negative effects on mathematics average performance. In Mariana (MG), according to the SC approach, we also find evidence that the disaster raised the disapproval rates. The results are robust to different specifications.
*Abstract provided by the author