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Preschools and Early Childhood Development in a Second Best World: Evidence from a Scaled-Up Experiment in Cambodia

46 Pages Posted: 30 Sep 2014  

Adrien Bouguen

Paris School of Economics (PSE)

Deon Filmer

World Bank; World Bank - Development Research Group (DECRG)

Karen Macours

Paris School of Economics (PSE)

Sophie Naudeau

Paris School of Economics (PSE)

Date Written: September 2014

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 childrenÂ’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.

Keywords: early childhood development, preschools, RCT

JEL Classification: I28, O15

Suggested Citation

Bouguen, Adrien and Filmer, Deon and Macours, Karen and Naudeau, Sophie, Preschools and Early Childhood Development in a Second Best World: Evidence from a Scaled-Up Experiment in Cambodia (September 2014). CEPR Discussion Paper No. DP10170. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2503400

Adrien Bouguen (Contact Author)

Paris School of Economics (PSE)

48 Boulevard Jourdan
Paris, 75014 75014
France

Deon Filmer

World Bank ( email )

1818 H Street, N.W.
Washington, DC 20433
United States

HOME PAGE: http://go.worldbank.org/MRWPOHRQJ0

World Bank - Development Research Group (DECRG)

1818 H. Street, N.W.
MSN3-311
Washington, DC 20433
United States

Karen Macours

Paris School of Economics (PSE) ( email )

48 Boulevard Jourdan
Paris, 75014 75014
France

Sophie Naudeau

Paris School of Economics (PSE)

48 Boulevard Jourdan
Paris, 75014 75014
France

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