The impact of vouchers on preschool attendance and elementary school readiness: A randomized controlled trial in rural China
Although preschool has been shown to improve children's school readiness in many developing countries, preschool attendance in poor rural areas of China is still low. The high cost of preschool is often regarded as a major barrier to attendance. In this paper, we evaluate the impact of a one-year voucher/CCT intervention on preschool attendance and school readiness. To do so, we conducted a randomized controlled trial among 150 young children in a poor, rural county in China. Our analysis shows that the intervention, consisting of a tuition waiver and a cash transfer conditional on attendance, raised attendance by 20 percentage points (or by 35%). However, the intervention did not have measurable impact on children's school readiness. We believe that poor quality of preschool education in rural China (in terms of both teaching and facilities) contributes to our findings.
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