Impact of mandatory preprimary education on learning in a developing country



Preprimary education is increasingly advocated as a key instrument for improving educational and other life outcomes, although most available evidence focuses on impacts on children in high-income countries (Engle et al., 2011; Walker et al., 2011; Holla et al., 2021). In 2002, the Mexican government announced an educational reform that mandated three years of preprimary education prior to entering primary school, with a gradual phase-in period between 2004-05 and 2008-09. Using unique, nation-wide longitudinal administrative data, two decades of household survey data, and a quasi-experimental regression discontinuity design, we study the effects of Mexico’s preprimary reform on cognitive and noncognitive outcomes of primary school-age children approximately five and almost 20 years post re-form initiation. Our findings show that the preprimary mandate increased years of preschool, delayed ages of primary-school entry, increased math and Spanish test scores in the fifth and sixth grades, enhanced noncognitive skills, increased student engagement in school and increased schooling attainment almost two decades later.


Jere R. Behrman (Ph.D. Economics, MIT) is the Kenan Professor of Economics and Sociology, University of Pennsylvania. His research is in empirical micro economics, economic development, early childhood development, labor economics, human resources, economic demography, household behaviors, life-cycle and intergenerational relations and policy evaluation. He has published over 500 professional articles and 36 books. He has worked with numerous international organizations and governments, been involved in professional research or lecturing in over 40 countries, principal investigator or investigator on over 170 research projects and received various honors for his research, including: Econometric Society Fellow, 40th Anniversary Fulbright Fellow, 2008 biennial Carlos Diaz-Alejandro Prize for outstanding research contributions to Latin America, 2011 Doctor Honoris Causa from University of Chile, member of the US National Institutes of Child Health and Development (NICHD) Advisory Council, 2017 Population Association of America Irene B. Taeuber Award, member of the National Academy of Science, Engineering and Medicine (NASEM) Committee on Population, is one of 36 living economists included in “Highly Cited Researchers (h>100) according to their Google Scholar Citations public profiles,” and ranked #70 in the world and #57 in the United States, #1 among empirical micro development economists in the world in the 2023 Edition of Ranking of Best Scientists in the field of Economics and Finance in

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