Olivia Carneiro cares deeply about understanding the root cause of inequality in her native Brazil. As a Pearson Institute fellow, Carneiro hopes to better understand and connect policymakers with economic and political solutions to resolving conflicts.
Olivia Miranda Carneiro
Olivia Miranda Carneiro, MPP19 (Expected)


São Paulo, Brazil


Bachelor of Science in Economics from the University of São Paulo

Olivia Carneiro cares deeply about understanding the root causes of inequality in her native Brazil. As a Pearson Institute fellow, Carneiro hopes to better understand and connect policymakers with economic and political solutions to resolving conflicts in Brazil and around the world.

What public policy issues matter most to you and why?

Coming from Brazil, a developing country, I regard tackling inequality to be a central issue.

Throughout my life I have seen both sides of inequality. Although I grew up in the city of São Paulo, my family is from the poorest region of Brazil. Because of my father's decision to move in search of better opportunities, I have enjoyed access to the best education, quality healthcare, incredible job opportunities and culture. Ensuring that others can also enjoy access to such opportunities is important to me.

I believe in reducing inequality through inclusive economic development, which requires action across the following policy areas: improving education quality, building inclusive and competitive markets, implementing universal social security policies and effectively combating violence.

What led you to policy school and Harris specifically? Tell us about your journey.

My bachelor's degree in economics gave me a solid theoretical background and sophisticated economic intuition. However, when I started working on the practical application of theory, I realized that those tools were not enough.

Specifically, when I started working as an advisor on public policy for international companies, I felt I lacked the training that would allow me to effectively support my arguments with evidence.

Sometimes, the theory of applied microeconomics and the intuition behind it is enough, but when we are seeking to propose or evaluate public policies and government programs with a strong impact on inclusive long-term development, top-notch data-driven analysis is necessary.

I felt the lack of rigorous technical training not only in the labor market, but also in the political movements that I am engaged in. Especially in an era of political polarization, and with the rise of populism, we need people who are able to understand the empirical impacts of political decisions.

I started searching for schools that could provide me with this missing toolkit. Harris was highly recommended by many of the people that I admire. At first, I thought of applying to the economics department, but the curriculum at Harris seemed more attractive. In addition to policy analysis, Harris offers courses related to politics and electoral campaigns, which appeals to me.

You were recently involved in a major political movement in Brazil. How has this impacted your approach to policy studies? What did you learn and how are you applying it to your work as a Pearson Fellow?

It has had a profound impact on my approach to public policy. Before, I thought in a purely abstract way, caring solely about the net effect of a given policy. But once I got involved with politics, I had to learn to look at problems more humanely and empathetically. Often the expected net effect of a given policy can be positive, but the means of applying it would generate a disproportionate political cost. So now I always try to think about creative solutions that would achieve the same net effect, but perhaps through a different path, depending on political considerations.

Having people trust me, becoming passionate about political proposals and ideas, and guiding and inspiring others was a new and different experience. It taught me a lot about leadership, empathy and flexibility. 

I have not yet had many opportunities to apply these skills so early in the term, but the Pearson Institute is surpassing my expectations. They support me with absolutely everything I need: connections, guidance, and encouragement. To my knowledge, I am the only Brazilian in the cohort and the Institute seems interested in giving a voice to my opinions and perspectives, even though I am a minority.

Tell us, what’s been your most exciting or noteworthy moment as a Pearson Fellow thus far?

The first panel, “Peace in the Age of Uncertainty”, on how urban violence is impacting our communities, was exciting and mind-blowing. After the panel, the Pearson Fellows were invited to a private reception with Rotary International where I was able to network with people who were interested in helping me with the political movements I’m engaged in. This was one of the most valuable experiences of my academic life.

What big ideas motivate you?

What motivates me most right now is knowing that this moment of political and institutional crisis in my country is an opportunity to transform it for the better. I'm doing everything in my power to take advantage of it, and knowing I'm not alone fills me with eagerness and hope.

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