Can Provision of Free School Uniforms Harm Attendance? Evidence from Ecuador

Tinbergen Institute Discussion Paper 10-103/3

20 Pages Posted: 7 Nov 2010

See all articles by Diana Hidalgo

Diana Hidalgo

University of Amsterdam

Mercedes Onofa

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Hessel Oosterbeek

University of Amsterdam - Research Institute in Economics & Econometrics (RESAM); Tinbergen Institute Amsterdam (TIA); Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA)

Juan Ponce

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Date Written: October 14, 2010

Abstract

To raise school attendance, many programs in developing countries eliminate or reduce private contributions to education. This paper documents an unintended negative effect of such programs. Using data from a randomized experiment that provides free uniforms to primary school children in Ecuador, we find that the intervention has a significantly negative impact on attendance. An explanation is that parents who pay for their children’s uniforms (the control group) feel more committed to the school than parents who got the uniforms for free (the treated) and therefore encourage their children to attend school. Consistent with this sunk cost effect, we find that the impact is largest shortly after the purchase of the uniform, and during the end-of-year exam period when more is at stake.

Keywords: Uniforms, school attendance, sunk-cost effect, Ecuador

JEL Classification: I22, I38, O15, H52

Suggested Citation

Hidalgo, Diana and Onofa, Mercedes and Oosterbeek, Hessel and Ponce, Juan, Can Provision of Free School Uniforms Harm Attendance? Evidence from Ecuador (October 14, 2010). Tinbergen Institute Discussion Paper 10-103/3, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1702974 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1702974

Diana Hidalgo (Contact Author)

University of Amsterdam ( email )

Spui 21
Amsterdam, 1018 WB
Netherlands

Mercedes Onofa

affiliation not provided to SSRN ( email )

Hessel Oosterbeek

University of Amsterdam - Research Institute in Economics & Econometrics (RESAM) ( email )

Roetersstraat 11
Amsterdam
Netherlands
+31 20 525 4242 (Phone)
+31 20 525 5283 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://www.fee.uva.nl/scholar/oosterbeek/

Tinbergen Institute Amsterdam (TIA)

Burg. Oudlaan 50
Rotterdam, 3062 PA
Netherlands

Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA)

P.O. Box 7240
Bonn, D-53072
Germany

Juan Ponce

affiliation not provided to SSRN

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