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Early Stimulation and Nutrition: The Impacts of a Scalable Intervention


  • Orazio Attanasio
  • Helen Baker-Henningham
  • Raquel Bernal
  • Costas Meghir
  • Diana Pineda
  • Marta Rubio-Codina


Early childhood development is becoming the focus of policy worldwide. However, the evidence on the effectiveness of scalable models is scant, particularly when it comes to infants in developing countries. In this paper, we describe and evaluate with a cluster-Randomized Controlled Trial an intervention designed to improve the quality of child stimulation within the context of an existing parenting program in Colombia, known as FAMI. The intervention improved children’s development by 0.16 of a standard deviation (SD) and children’s nutritional status, as reflected in a reduction of 5.8 percentage points of children whose height-for-age is below -1 SD.

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  • Orazio Attanasio & Helen Baker-Henningham & Raquel Bernal & Costas Meghir & Diana Pineda & Marta Rubio-Codina, 2022. "Early Stimulation and Nutrition: The Impacts of a Scalable Intervention," Journal of the European Economic Association, European Economic Association, vol. 20(4), pages 1395-1432.
  • Handle: RePEc:oup:jeurec:v:20:y:2022:i:4:p:1395-1432.

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    2. Davide Azzolini & Martina Bazzoli & Sergiu C. Burlacu & Enrico Rettore, 2023. "Starting the school year on the right foot. Effects of a summer learning program targeting vulnerable students in Italy," FBK-IRVAPP Working Papers 2023-05, Research Institute for the Evaluation of Public Policies (IRVAPP), Bruno Kessler Foundation.
    3. Magdalena Bendini & Lelys Dinarte, 2020. "Does Maternal Depression Undermine Childhood Cognitive Development? Evidence from the Young Lives Survey in Peru," IJERPH, MDPI, vol. 17(19), pages 1-18, October.
    4. Juanita Bloomfield & Ana Balsa & Alejandro Cid, 2023. "Using behavioral insights in early childhood interventions: the effects of Crianza Positiva e-messaging program on parental investment," Review of Economics of the Household, Springer, vol. 21(1), pages 95-130, March.
    5. Nores, Milagros & Bernal, Raquel & Barnett, W. Steven, 2019. "Center-based care for infants and toddlers: The aeioTU randomized trial," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 72(C), pages 30-43.
    6. Sylvia, Sean & Luo, Renfu & Zhong, Jingdong & Dill, Sarah-Eve & Medina, Alexis & Rozelle, Scott, 2022. "Passive versus active service delivery: Comparing the effects of two parenting interventions on early cognitive development in rural China," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 149(C).
    7. Wisuwat Chujan & Weerachart Kilenthong, 2019. "An Early Evaluation of a HighScope-Based Curriculum Intervention in Rural Thailand," PIER Discussion Papers 103, Puey Ungphakorn Institute for Economic Research.
    8. Raquel Bernal & Michele Giannola & Milagros Nores, 2022. "The Effect of Center-Based Early Education on Disadvantaged Children's Developmental Trajectories: Experimental Evidence from Colombia," Working Papers 2022-027, Human Capital and Economic Opportunity Working Group.
    9. Conner Mullally & Mayra Rivas & Travis McArthur, 2021. "Using Machine Learning to Estimate the Heterogeneous Effects of Livestock Transfers," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, John Wiley & Sons, vol. 103(3), pages 1058-1081, May.
    10. Yiwei Qian & Yi Ming Zheng & Sarah-Eve Dill & Scott Rozelle, 2020. "Correlates of participation in community-based interventions: Evidence from a parenting program in rural China," PLOS ONE, Public Library of Science, vol. 15(9), pages 1-19, September.
    11. Chandra, Anjali & Mani, Subha & Dolphin, Heather & Dyson, Meredith & Marah, Yembeh, 2021. "Experimental Evidence from an Integrated Early Childhood Parenting Program in Sierra Leone," IZA Discussion Papers 14054, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    12. Carneiro, Pedro & Galasso, Emanuela & Lopez Garcia, Italo & Bedregal, Paula & Cordero, Miguel, 2019. "Parental Beliefs, Investments, and Child Development: Evidence from a Large-Scale Experiment," IZA Discussion Papers 12506, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    13. Lenel, Friederike & Priebe, Jan & Satriawan, Elan & Syamsulhakim, Ekki, 2022. "Can mHealth campaigns improve CCT outcomes? Experimental evidence from sms-nudges in Indonesia," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 86(C).
    14. Bansak, Cynthia & Jiang, Xuan & Yang, Guanyi, 2022. "Sibling spillovers in rural China: A story of sisters," China Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 76(C).
    15. Mullally, Conner & Rivas, Mayra & McArthur, Travis, 2019. "Livestock Transfers Can Improve Child Health: Evidence from a Randomized Phase-In Design in Guatemala," SocArXiv c6zg5, Center for Open Science.
    16. Raquel Bernal & Michele Giannola & Milagros Nores, 2023. "The effects of a project and play-based early education program on medium term developmental trajectories of young children in a low-income setting," CSEF Working Papers 665, Centre for Studies in Economics and Finance (CSEF), University of Naples, Italy.
    17. Alison Andrew & Orazio Attanasio & Raquel Bernal & Lina Cardona Sosa & Sonya Krutikova & Marta Rubio-Codina, 2019. "Preschool Quality and Child Development," NBER Working Papers 26191, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    18. Premand, Patrick & Barry, Oumar, 2022. "Behavioral change promotion, cash transfers and early childhood development: Experimental evidence from a government program in a low-income setting," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 158(C).
    19. Bernal, Raquel & Ramírez, Sara María, 2019. "Improving the quality of early childhood care at scale: The effects of “From Zero to Forever”," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 118(C), pages 91-105.
    20. Wisuwat Chujan & Weerachart T. Kilenthong, 2019. "Short-term Impact of an Early Childhood Curriculum Intervention in Rural Thailand," Working Papers 2019-077, Human Capital and Economic Opportunity Working Group.
    21. Raquel Bernal & Sara María Ramírez, 2018. "Improving childcare quality at scale: the effects of “From Zero to Forever”," Documentos CEDE 16600, Universidad de los Andes, Facultad de Economía, CEDE.
    22. Justine Herve & Helene Purcell & Subha Mani, 2023. "Conscientiousness Matters: How does Personality affect Labor Market Outcomes?," Fordham Economics Discussion Paper Series dp2023-05er:dp2023-05, Fordham University, Department of Economics.
    23. McWay, Ryan & Prabhakar, Pallavi & Ellis, Ayo, 2022. "The Impact of Early Childhood Development Interventions on Children’s Health in Developing Countries: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis," Discussion Paper Series in Economics 14/2022, Norwegian School of Economics, Department of Economics.

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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • J13 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Fertility; Family Planning; Child Care; Children; Youth
    • I10 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - General
    • I20 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - General
    • H43 - Public Economics - - Publicly Provided Goods - - - Project Evaluation; Social Discount Rate


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