The typical arguments made for the conditioning argument of CCTs are usually based on paternalism (people might have incorrect beliefs about the value of education, or parents may have incomplete altruism for their kids), externalities (the social returns to education exceed the private returns so individuals underinvest), or political economy (it is easier to sell transfers to the voters if you make them conditional). A
The majority of CCT programs with schooling conditions have been found to increase enrollment rates and attendance. Far fewer of the evaluations, however, report results on learning outcomes. Those that do typically find no gains in learning, at least as assessed by test scores. The 2009 CCT review report by Fiszbein, Schady, and others summarizes four studies that measure CCT impacts on learning outcomes. The first two use school-based testing data and find no impact on test scores.
· People behave more generously in dictator games when there is a white foreigner observing – evidence from Sierra Leone.
Lant Pritchett once said to me “Thanks for the comments. As usual they are all very smart and well-informed and I disagree with most.” I feel similarly regarding his very popular piece posted here last week (already one of the top 10 most popular posts in our blog's short history) on how CCTs are forcing children in developing countries into terrible schools. So, here goes a reply…
In the early 20th century Helen Todd, a factory inspector in Chicago, interviewed 500 children working in factories, often in dangerous and unpleasant conditions. She asked children the question: “If your father had a good job and you didn’t have to work, which would you rather do—go to school or work in a factory?” 412 said they would choose factory work. One fourteen year old girl, who was interviewed lacquering canes in an attic working with both intense heat and the constant smell of turpentine, said “School is the fiercest thing you can come up against. F
Tomorrow and on Tuesday (October 24-25), there is a workshop at the World Bank titled “CCTs: The Second Generation of Evaluations.” If you are at the World Bank or in the DC area, you may want to make your way to this event, as it promises to be a good one – focusing on research conducted on the topic in the past three years or so.