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Can Provision of Free School Uniforms harm Attendance? Evidence from Ecuador

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Author Info

  • Diana Hidalgo

    (University of Amsterdam, and TIER)

  • Mercedes Onofa

    (FLASCO-Ecuador)

  • Hessel Oosterbeek

    (University of Amsterdam, and TIER)

  • Juan Ponce

    (FLASCO-Ecuador)

Abstract

To raise school attendance, many programs in developing countries eliminate orreduce private contributions to education. This paper documents an unintendednegative effect of such programs. Using data from a randomized experiment thatprovides free uniforms to primary school children in Ecuador, we find that the interventionhas a significantly negative impact on attendance. An explanation is thatparents who pay for their children’s uniforms (the control group) feel more committedto the school than parents who got the uniforms for free (the treated) andtherefore encourage their children to attend school. Consistent with this sunk costeffect, we find that the impact is largest shortly after the purchase of the uniform,and during the end-of-year exam period when more is at stake.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Tinbergen Institute in its series Tinbergen Institute Discussion Papers with number 10-103/3.

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Date of creation: 14 Oct 2010
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Handle: RePEc:dgr:uvatin:20100103

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Web page: http://www.tinbergen.nl

Related research

Keywords: Uniforms; school attendance; sunk-cost effect; Ecuador;

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References

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  1. Hessel Oosterbeek & Juan Ponce & Norbert Schady, 2008. "The Impact of Cash Transfers on School Enrollment: Evidence from Ecuador," Tinbergen Institute Discussion Papers, Tinbergen Institute 08-037/3, Tinbergen Institute.
  2. repec:dgr:uvatin:2008037 is not listed on IDEAS
  3. Esther Duflo & Rachel Glennerster & Michael Kremer, 2006. "Using Randomization in Development Economics Research: A Toolkit," NBER Technical Working Papers, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc 0333, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Angrist, Joshua & Lavy, Victor, 2002. "The Effect of High School Matriculation Awards: Evidence from Randomized Trials," CEPR Discussion Papers, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers 3827, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  5. Arkes, Hal R. & Blumer, Catherine, 1985. "The psychology of sunk cost," Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 35(1), pages 124-140, February.
  6. Jessica Cohen & Pascaline Dupas, 2010. "Free Distribution or Cost-Sharing? Evidence from a Randomized Malaria Prevention Experiment," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, MIT Press, vol. 125(1), pages 1-45, February.
  7. Nava Ashraf & James Berry & Jesse M. Shapiro, 2007. "Can Higher Prices Stimulate Product Use? Evidence from a Field Experiment in Zambia," NBER Working Papers 13247, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Hanan G. Jacoby, 2002. "Is There an Intrahousehold "Flypaper Effect"? Evidence From a School Feeding Programme," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, Royal Economic Society, vol. 112(476), pages 196-221, January.
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Cited by:
  1. Ketel, Nadine & Linde, Jona & Oosterbeek, Hessel & van der Klaauw, Bas, 2014. "Tuition fees as a commitment device," CEPR Discussion Papers, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers 9862, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  2. Jose Rosero, 2012. "The ABC of Housing Strategies: Are Housing Assistance Programs Effective in Enhancing Children's Well Being?," Tinbergen Institute Discussion Papers, Tinbergen Institute 12-074/3, Tinbergen Institute.

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