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Climate change, adaptation, and formal education: the role of schooling for increasing societies’ adaptive capacities in El Salvador and Brazil

This paper examines the influence of formal education in determining the adaptive capacity of the residents of two low-income settlements where climate-related disasters are recurrent: Los Manantiales in San Salvador (El Salvador) and Rocinha in Rio de Janeiro (Brazil). In both case study areas, the average levels of education were lower for households living in high risk areas, as opposed to residents of lower risk areas. In this context, the influence of people’s level of education was identified to be twofold due to (a) its direct effect on aspects that reduce risk, and (b) its mitigating effect on aspects that increase risk. The results further suggest that education plays a more determinant role for women than for men in relation to their capacity to adapt. In light of these results, the limited effectiveness of institutional support identified by this study might also relate to the fact that the role of formal education has so far not been sufficiently explored.