The Effects of Attending Kindergarten on Child Development in Rural India

Dr. Joshua Dean, Briq Institute

Primary school enrollment is now nearly universal in many developing countries, but children from poor families arrive less prepared than better-off peers who attended pre-kindergarten and kindergarten. We study the effects of expanding access to pre-K and kindergarten on child development in Karnataka, India, through a randomized evaluation. We partnered with a private kindergarten provider to offer two-year scholarships to children from poor families. We find that children who attend pre-K/kindergarten due to the scholarship experience a 0.8 standard deviation gain in cognitive development. This effect size is considerably larger than most estimates for Head Start in the US. The scholarship induced some children to switch from attending no kindergarten to attending our partner's school, and it also induced some to switch from a different kindergarten to our partner's school. To separately identify the treatment effects for these two types of switchers, we use machine learning techniques to predict who the treatment "compliers" are and what each child's counterfactual activity would have been.

About the speaker

Joshua Dean is a Postdoctoral Fellow at briq-Instutite on Behavior and Inequality in Bonn, and will be joining The University of Chicago Booth School of Business as an Assistant Professor of Behavioral Science in July 2019. His research is on the interaction of poverty and cognition using primarily randomized controlled trials. Under this broad agenda, his research can be grouped into three main categories. First, he is interested in how the conditions of poverty shape cognitive development by affecting human capital investment. Second, he is interested in how environments of poverty impede cognition. Finally, he is interested in how cognitive processes may impede poverty alleviation. His aim to to conduct research that can provide guidance to policy makers on the best ways to alleviate poverty. Dr. Dean obtained his PhD in Economics from MIT and has bachelors degrees in Mathematics, Economics, and Political Science from the University of Kansas. 

Date: 25 April 2019

Time: 12:00 - 13:00  CET