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Equality of Opportunity and Human Capital Accumulation: Motivational Effect of a Nationwide Scholarship in Colombia

Author

Listed:
  • Rachid Laajaj

    ()

  • Andres Moya

    ()

  • Fabio Sánchez

    ()

Abstract

We study the ex-ante motivational effect of a nationwide merit and need-based scholarship in Colombia. Ser Pilo Paga (SPP) is a program that grants full scholarships at top-quality universities for 10,000 low-income students per cohort. After its introduction in 2014, SPP completely closed the socioeconomic enrollment gap for high-performing students in top universities. Using administrative data on the universe of high-school seniors, we explore whether this unprecedented change in opportunities generated an ex-ante motivational effect on eligible students’ performance in the 2015 national high school exit exam. Our results from a Difference in Difference model and a Regression Discontinuity Design indicate that the need-based eligibility to the scholarship had a substantial effect on test scores at the top of the distribution, starting around the 70th percentile. For example, at the 90th percentile of the test score distribution, eligibility to the scholarship reduced the socioeconomic achievement gap by 17 percent. We also find that the motivational effect is concentrated in schools where at least one student received the scholarship in 2014, and that university enrollment rates even increased for eligible students who obtained a test score just below the requirement to obtain the scholarship. Our results highlight the way in which the lack of opportunities for social mobility discourages human capital accumulation by low income students, thus contributing to the persistence of poverty and inequality.

Suggested Citation

  • Rachid Laajaj & Andres Moya & Fabio Sánchez, 2018. "Equality of Opportunity and Human Capital Accumulation: Motivational Effect of a Nationwide Scholarship in Colombia," Documentos CEDE 016352, Universidad de los Andes - CEDE.
  • Handle: RePEc:col:000089:016352
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    File URL: http://economia.uniandes.edu.co/publicaciones/dcede2018-26.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. 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.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    equality of opportunity; socioeconomic achievement gap; Colombia;

    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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