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Equality of opportunity and human capital accumulation: Motivational effect of a nationwide scholarship in Colombia

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  • Laajaj, Rachid
  • Moya, Andrés
  • Sánchez, Fabio

Abstract

We study the ex ante motivational effect of a nationwide merit and need-based scholarship in Colombia, which granted full scholarships to low-income students at high-quality universities. Specifically, we analyze how the opportunity to receive the scholarship, influenced the performance of low-income students in the national high-school exit and 9th grade exams, and their university enrollment rates. Following a differences-in-discontinuity design, we find that the opportunity to receive the scholarship significantly increased test scores at the national high school exit exam at the top of the distribution. At the 90th percentile of the distribution, eligibility for the scholarship reduced the socioeconomic achievement gap by 16 percent. We also document an increase in the post-secondary enrollment of low-income students at the top of their score distribution, even for the non-recipients of the scholarship. Finally, we estimate a positive effect on the test scores of younger 9th grade students, affecting a broader range of the distribution. Our results highlight how opportunities for social mobility encourage human capital accumulation by low-income students, thus contributing to breaking the persistence of poverty and inequality.

Suggested Citation

  • Laajaj, Rachid & Moya, Andrés & Sánchez, Fabio, 2022. "Equality of opportunity and human capital accumulation: Motivational effect of a nationwide scholarship in Colombia," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 154(C).
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:deveco:v:154:y:2022:i:c:s0304387821001206
    DOI: 10.1016/j.jdeveco.2021.102754
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    Cited by:

    1. Penney, Jeffrey & Lehrer, Steven F. & Bernal, Gloria L. & Reyes, Luis Carlos, 2023. "Do opportunities for low-income students at top colleges promote academic success? Evidence from Colombia's Ser Pilo Paga program," CLEF Working Paper Series 64, Canadian Labour Economics Forum (CLEF), University of Waterloo.
    2. Alejandro Arenas Alzate, 2021. "Mejores colegios en Colombia: efecto de las condiciones socioeconómicas sobre el desempeno escolar," Documentos de Trabajo CIEF 19829, Universidad EAFIT.
    3. Luis Armando Galvis-Aponte & Jaime Bonet-Morón & Leonardo Bonilla-Mejía & Andrea Otero-Cortés & Gerson Javier Pérez-Valbuena & Christian Posso & Diana Ricciulli-Marín, 2021. "Desigualdades del ingreso en Colombia: ¿cuáles son sus determinantes y cómo se han afectado por la pandemia del Covid-19?," Revista ESPE - Ensayos Sobre Política Económica, Banco de la República, issue 101, pages 1-53, December.
    4. Bernal, Gloria L. & Penney, Jeffrey, 2019. "Scholarships and student effort: Evidence from Colombia’s Ser Pilo Paga program," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 72(C), pages 121-130.
    5. Christian Posso & Estefanía Saravia & Pablo Uribe, 2023. "Acing the Test: Educational Effects of the SaberEs Test Preparation Program in Colombia," Borradores de Economia 1237, Banco de la Republica de Colombia.
    6. Arlen Guarin & Juliana Londoño-Vélez & Christian Posso, 2023. "Reparations as Development? Evidence from Victims of the Colombian Armed Conflict," Borradores de Economia 1236, Banco de la Republica de Colombia.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Equality of opportunity; Human capital accumulation; Socioeconomic achievement gap;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • H52 - Public Economics - - National Government Expenditures and Related Policies - - - Government Expenditures and Education
    • I24 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Education and Inequality
    • I25 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Education and Economic Development
    • O15 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Economic Development: Human Resources; Human Development; Income Distribution; Migration

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