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Freed from Illiteracy? A Closer Look at Venezuela’s Robinson Literacy Campaign


  • Daniel Ortega

    () (Center for Finance, Instituto de Estudios Superiores de Administración)

  • Francisco Rodríguez

    () (Economics Department, Wesleyan University)

  • Edward Miguel

    (University of California, Berkeley and NBER)


We evaluate the success of the Venezuelan government’s latest nationwide literacy program, Misión Robinson, using official Venezuelan government survey data. Controlling for existing trends in literacy rates by age groups over the period 1975 to 2005, we find at most a small positive effect of Robinson on literacy rates, and in many specifications the program impact is statistically indistinguishable from zero. This main result is robust to time series analysis by birth cohort, and to state-level difference-in-differences estimation. The results appear to be inconsistent with recent official claims of the complete eradication of illiteracy in Venezuela, but resonate with existing research on other adult literacy programs, which have usually been expensive failures.

Suggested Citation

  • Daniel Ortega & Francisco Rodríguez & Edward Miguel, 2006. "Freed from Illiteracy? A Closer Look at Venezuela’s Robinson Literacy Campaign," Wesleyan Economics Working Papers 2006-025, Wesleyan University, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:wes:weswpa:2006-025

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