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Preschools and early childhood development in a second best world: Evidence from a scaled-up experiment in Cambodia

Author

Listed:
  • Bouguen, Adrien
  • Filmer, Deon
  • Macours, Karen
  • Naudeau, Sophie

Abstract

Interventions targeting early childhood development, such as investment in preschools, are often seen as promising mechanisms to increase human capital and to reduce the intergenerational transmission of poverty and inequality. This paper presents results from a randomized evaluation of a large scale preschool construction program in Cambodia, and indicates a cautionary tale. The overall impact of the program on a wide set of children’s early childhood outcomes was small and not statistically significant, and for the cohort with highest exposure the program led to a negative impact on early childhood cognition. Moreover, for this group, the intervention increased inequality as the negative impacts are largest for children of poorer and less educated parents. The results can be explained by the frequent occurrence of underage enrollment in primary school in the absence of preschools, stricter enforcement of the minimum age for primary school entry after the intervention, substitution between primary and preschool following intervention, and difference in demand responses of more and less educated parents to the new preschools. These results indicate that the design of ECD interventions needs to start from a good understanding of parental and teacher decisions pre-program. More generally, they show how implementation and demand-side constraints might not only limit positive impacts, but could even lead to perverse effects of early childhood interventions.

Suggested Citation

  • Bouguen, Adrien & Filmer, Deon & Macours, Karen & Naudeau, Sophie, 2014. "Preschools and early childhood development in a second best world: Evidence from a scaled-up experiment in Cambodia," CEPR Discussion Papers 10170, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  • Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:10170
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Karen Macours & Norbert Schady & Renos Vakis, 2012. "Cash Transfers, Behavioral Changes, and Cognitive Development in Early Childhood: Evidence from a Randomized Experiment," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 4(2), pages 247-273, April.
    2. Norbert Schady & Jere Behrman & Maria Caridad Araujo & Rodrigo Azuero & Raquel Bernal & David Bravo & Florencia Lopez-Boo & Karen Macours & Daniela Marshall & Christina Paxson & Renos Vakis, 2015. "Wealth Gradients in Early Childhood Cognitive Development in Five Latin American Countries," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 50(2), pages 446-463.
    3. Elizabeth M. King & Jere R. Behrman, 2009. "Timing and Duration of Exposure in Evaluations of Social Programs," World Bank Research Observer, World Bank Group, vol. 24(1), pages 55-82, February.
    4. Raj Chetty & John N. Friedman & Nathaniel Hilger & Emmanuel Saez & Diane Whitmore Schanzenbach & Danny Yagan, 2011. "How Does Your Kindergarten Classroom Affect Your Earnings? Evidence from Project Star," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 126(4), pages 1593-1660.
    5. Tania Barham & Karen Macours & John A. Maluccio, 2013. "Boys' Cognitive Skill Formation and Physical Growth: Long-Term Experimental Evidence on Critical Ages for Early Childhood Interventions," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 103(3), pages 467-471, May.
    6. James J. Heckman & Jora Stixrud & Sergio Urzua, 2006. "The Effects of Cognitive and Noncognitive Abilities on Labor Market Outcomes and Social Behavior," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 24(3), pages 411-482, July.
    7. Berlinski, Samuel & Galiani, Sebastian & Gertler, Paul, 2009. "The effect of pre-primary education on primary school performance," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 93(1-2), pages 219-234, February.
    8. Tania Barham & Karen Macours & John A. Maluccio, 2013. "Boys' Cognitive Skill Formation and Physical Growth: Long-Term Experimental Evidence on Critical Ages for Early Childhood Interventions," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 103(3), pages 467-471, May.
    9. Berlinski, Samuel & Galiani, Sebastian & Manacorda, Marco, 2008. "Giving children a better start: Preschool attendance and school-age profiles," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 92(5-6), pages 1416-1440, June.
    10. Janet Currie, 2001. "Early Childhood Education Programs," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 15(2), pages 213-238, Spring.
    11. Jere R. Behrman & Yingmei Cheng & Petra E. Todd, 2004. "Evaluating Preschool Programs When Length of Exposure to the Program Varies: A Nonparametric Approach," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 86(1), pages 108-132, February.
    12. repec:idb:brikps:publication-detail,7101.html?id=32886 is not listed on IDEAS
    13. Karen Macours & Norbert Schady & Renos Vakis, 2012. "Cash Transfers, Behavioral Changes, and Cognitive Development in Early Childhood: Evidence from a Randomized Experiment," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 4(2), pages 247-273, April.
    14. Bouguen, Adrien & Filmer, Deon & Macours, Karen & Naudeau, Sophie, 2013. "Impact evaluation of three types of early childhood development interventions in Cambodia," Policy Research Working Paper Series 6540, The World Bank.
    15. Paul Gertler, 2004. "Do Conditional Cash Transfers Improve Child Health? Evidence from PROGRESA's Control Randomized Experiment," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 94(2), pages 336-341, May.
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    Cited by:

    1. Blimpo, Moussa P. & Carneiro, Pedro & Jervis, Pamela & Pugatch, Todd, 2019. "Improving Access and Quality in Early Childhood Development Programs: Experimental Evidence from The Gambia," GLO Discussion Paper Series 318, Global Labor Organization (GLO).
    2. Cameron, Lisa & Olivia, Susan & Shah, Manisha, 2019. "Scaling up sanitation: Evidence from an RCT in Indonesia," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 138(C), pages 1-16.
    3. Izza Mafruhah, 2016. "The Placement Model for Indonesian Migrant Workers to Improve their Economic Welfare," GATR Journals jber116, Global Academy of Training and Research (GATR) Enterprise.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    early childhood development; preschools; RCT;

    JEL classification:

    • I28 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Government Policy
    • O15 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Economic Development: Human Resources; Human Development; Income Distribution; Migration

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