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Is Investment in Preprimary Education Too Low ? Lessons from (Quasi) ExperimentalEvidence across Countries

Alaka Holla, Maria Magdalena Bendini, Lelys Dinarte Diaz () and Iva Trako

No 9723, Policy Research Working Paper Series from The World Bank

Abstract: A large body of evidence suggests sizeable improvements in cognitive and social-emotionalskills and subsequent educational attainment following preprimary education interventions as well as increases inearnings later in life. Yet, while the world has nearly reached universal primary education, coverage of earlychildhood education is still low in many countries. This study uses a novel global dataset of effect sizes from morethan 50 studies conducted in 19 countries to examine measures of school participation, cognitive skills,social-emotional skills, and behavior, both during and after preprimary ages. Estimates from meta-regression analysissuggest both strong demand for preprimary services when offered and significant improvements in children’s cognitiveskills (0.15 sd) and their executive functioning, social-emotional learning, and behavior (0.12 sd) during thepre-primary period. Moreover, our meta-analytic results indicate statistically significant persistent advantages(0.07 sd) in each type of skill beyond the preprimary period. Pooled heterogeneous treatment effects also suggesthigher gains for disadvantaged children. Lastly, cost-benefit analysis using studies from low- andmiddle-income countries implies benefit-to-cost ratios ranging between 1.7 and 14.2, suggesting high returns topreprimary investments even in contexts with limited state capacity.

Keywords: Educational Sciences; Health Care Services Industry; Effective Schools and Teachers; Educational Institutions & Facilities; Education For All; Education for Development (superceded); Educational Populations (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2021-06-30
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