The impact of early childhood development programs in Ecuador

Start date: 01 januari 2009

Jose Rosero, Hessel Oosterbeek


Indirect/long term policy relevant


Research question: This project evaluates the impact of nurseries and home visits on cognitive and physical outcomes of children in poor families in Ecuador. It also examines the impact of these interventions on mothers' well-being and labor supply, and on family income. Method: The largest organization that funds early childhood programs in Ecuador ranks proposals of prospective providers of such program s on the basis of a scores which is a mixture of perceived quality and social background indicators. It then allocates its available budget to the proposals with the highest scores. This creates a discontinuity in the probability of treatment at the cutoff score where the funding organization spends its last dollar. We exploit this in a regression discontinuity design in which we instrument treatment by having a score at or above the cutoff score while controlling for a smooth function of the underlying score. Results (preliminary): While home visits have a positive impact on a range of cognitive and physical outcomes, nurseries appear to have a zero impact. At the same time home visits reduce mothers' depression/stress levels, while nurseries have a detrimental effect on depression and stress. The key mechanism that seems to drive this is that nurseries increase mothers' labor market participation and family income, while home visits reduce mothers' labor market participation (but leave family income unaffected). The two programs thus imply a clear trade-off between child outcomes and mother's psychic well-being on the one hand, and labor market participation and family income on the other hand. Status: data have been collected, analyses have been conducted, currently writing a first draft of academic paper.

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