SummaryMany children younger than 5 years in developing countries are exposed to multiple risks, including poverty, malnutrition, poor health, and unstimulating home environments, which detrimentally affect their cognitive, motor, and social-emotional development. There are few national statistics on the development of young children in developing countries. We therefore identified two factors with available worldwide data—the prevalence of early childhood stunting and the number of people living in absolute poverty—to use as indicators of poor development. We show that both indicators are closely associated with poor cognitive and educational performance in children and use them to estimate that over 200 million children under 5 years are not fulfilling their developmental potential. Most of these children live in south Asia and sub-Saharan Africa. These disadvantaged children are likely to do poorly in school and subsequently have low incomes, high fertility, and provide poor care for their children, thus contributing to the intergenerational transmission of poverty.
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ABSTRACTMother's education is often found to be positively correlated with child health and nutrition in developing countries, yet the causal mechanisms are poorly understood. Three possible mechanisms are: (1) Formal education directly teaches health knowledge to future mothers; (2) Literacy and numeracy skills acquired in school assist future mothers in diagnosing and treating child health problems; and (3) Exposure to modern society from formal schooling makes women more receptive to modern medical treatments. This paper uses data from Morocco to assess the role played by these different mechanisms. Mother's health knowledge alone appears to be the crucial skill for raising child health. In Morocco, such knowledge is primarily obtained outside the classroom, although it is obtained using literacy and numeracy skills learned in school; there is no evidence that health knowledge is directly taught in schools. This suggests that teaching of health knowledge skills in Moroccan schools could substantially raise child health and nutrition in Morocco.
FCND Discussion Papers contain preliminary material and research results, and are circulated prior to a full peer review in order to stimulate discussion and critical comment. It is expected that most Discussion Papers will eventually be published in some other form, and that their content may also be revised.
Developing countries spend hundreds of billions of dollars each year on schools, educational materials and teachers, but relatively little is known about how effective these expenditures are at increasing students' years of completed schooling and, more importantly, the skills that they learn while in school. This paper examines studies published between 1990 and 2010, in both the education literature and the economics literature, to investigate which specific school and teacher characteristics, if any, appear to have strong positive impacts on learning and time in school. Starting with over 9,000 studies, 79 are selected as being of sufficient quality. Then an even higher bar is set in terms of econometric methods used, leaving 43 "high quality" studies. Finally, results are also shown separately for 13 randomized trials. The estimated impacts on time in school and learning of most school and teacher characteristics are statistically insignificant, especially when the evidence is limited to the "high quality" studies. The few variables that do have significant effects-e.g. availability of desks, teacher knowledge of the subjects they teach, and teacher absence-are not particularly surprising and thus provide little guidance for future policies and programs.
This paper reviews recent research on the determinants of educational outcomes, and the impact of those outcomes on other socioeconomic phenomena. It addresses three questions: 1) What school policies are most cost-effective in producing students with particular cognitive skills, such as literacy and numeracy? 2) What is the relationship between schooling, particularly cognitive skills acquired in school, and labor productivity? 3) What impact does schooling, especially cognitive skills, have on other socioeconomic outcomes? While recent research has made some progress, these are difficult questions and much more work is needed. The paper provides suggestions for future research on these questions.
We analyze a randomized trial of a program that rewarded Kenyan primary school teachers based on student test scores, with penalties for students not taking the exams. Scores increased on the formula used to reward teachers, and program school students scored higher on the exams linked to teacher incentives. Yet most of the gains were focused on the teacher reward formula. The dropout rate was unchanged. Instead, exam participation increased among enrolled students. Test scores increased on exams linked to the incentives, but not on other, unrelated exams. Teacher attendance and homework assignment were unaffected, but test preparation sessions increased. (JEL I21, I28, J13, O15)
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