Comprehensive Early Childhood Development Support Systems and Academic Achievement: The case of Chile Crece Contigo

Last update: Nov 13, 2021

Abstract

This paper studies the effects of a comprehensive early childhood support system on human capital accumulation. Specifically, we explore the benefits in educational achievement for the first generations of children exposed to the comprehensive child development support system "Chile Crece Contigo." To study this, we combine the gradual implementation of the policy and the age eligibility requirements to estimate a cumulative exposure model on data from eight cohorts (2011-2018) of fourth-grade students in Chile.   We find sizable positive effects in mathematics (0.07 of a standard deviation) and language (0.2 of a standard deviation) test scores for children in municipalities that started the program during or before their prenatal stage compared to children that the program began when they were older than sixty months. When we estimate these differences using an event-study model, we can conclude that the exposure returns dissipated for children thirty-six months old or older when the policy started. This result is consistent with the schedule of interventions and early detection instruments established. These results are heterogeneous across gender and socioeconomic status. First, we find evidence of higher returns on boys, which could be explained partially by differences in access to need-based services. Additionally, children classified as low-socioeconomic students experience higher returns of being exposed to the policy, aligned with the equity goals of the system.