Helping Children Catch Up: Early Life Shocks and the PROGRESA Experiment
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Can investing in children who faced adverse events in early childhood help them catch up? We answer this question using two orthogonal sources of variation – resource availability at birth (local rainfall) and cash incentives for school enrollment – to identify the interaction between early endowments and investments in children. We find that adverse rainfall in the year of birth decreases grade attainment, post-secondary enrollment, and employment outcomes. But children whose families were randomized to receive conditional cash transfers experienced a much smaller decline: each additional year of program exposure during childhood mitigated more than 20 percent of early disadvantage.
Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w24848