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Improving Access and Quality in Early Childhood Development Programs: Experimental Evidence from The Gambia


  • Moussa P. Blimpo

    (World Bank)

  • Pedro Carneiro

    (University College London)

  • Pamela Jervis

    (Institute for Fiscal Studies)

  • Todd Pugatch

    (Oregon State University)


This paper studies two experiments of early childhood development programs in The Gambia: one increasing access to services, and another improving service quality. In the first experiment, new community-based early childhood development (ECD) centers were introduced to randomly chosen villages that had no pre-existing structured ECD services. In the second experiment, a randomly assigned subset of existing ECD centers received intensive provider training. We find no evidence that either intervention improved average levels of child development. Exploratory analysis suggests that, in fact, the first experiment, which increased access to relatively low quality ECD services, led to declines in child development among children from less disadvantaged households. Evidence supports that these households may have been steered away from better quality early childhood settings in their homes.

Suggested Citation

  • Moussa P. Blimpo & Pedro Carneiro & Pamela Jervis & Todd Pugatch, 2019. "Improving Access and Quality in Early Childhood Development Programs: Experimental Evidence from The Gambia," Working Papers 2019-023, Human Capital and Economic Opportunity Working Group.
  • Handle: RePEc:hka:wpaper:2019-023
    Note: M

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Holla,Alaka & Bendini,Maria Magdalena & Dinarte Diaz,Lelys Ileana & Trako,Iva, 2021. "Is Investment in Preprimary Education Too Low ? Lessons from (Quasi) ExperimentalEvidence across Countries," Policy Research Working Paper Series 9723, The World Bank.
    2. Berkes, Jan & Bouguen, Adrien & Filmer, Deon & Fukao, Tsuyoshi, 2024. "Improving preschool provision and encouraging-demand: Evidence from a large-scale construction program," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 230(C).
    3. Patricia Justino & Marinella Leone & Pierfrancesco Rolla & Monique Abimpaye & Caroline Dusabe & Marie D Uwamahoro & Richard Germond, 2023. "Improving Parenting Practices for Early Child Development: Experimental Evidence from Rwanda," Journal of the European Economic Association, European Economic Association, vol. 21(4), pages 1510-1550.

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    More about this item


    early childhood development; cognitive stimulation; teacher training; The Gambia; randomized control trials; Malawi Developmental Assessment Tool;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • I25 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Education and Economic Development
    • I38 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - Government Programs; Provision and Effects of Welfare Programs
    • O15 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Economic Development: Human Resources; Human Development; Income Distribution; Migration
    • O22 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Development Planning and Policy - - - Project Analysis

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