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PublicationThe Impact of the JUNTOS Conditional Cash Transfer Programme on Foundational Cognitive Skills: Does Age of Enrollment Matter?(2022-09-02) Scott, Douglas; Lopez, Jennifer; Sánchez, Alan; Behrman, Jere RThis paper studies the relationship between the age of enrolment in Peru’s conditional cash transfer programme, JUNTOS, and the foundational cognitive skills of a sample of children aged between 5 and 12 years old. Using a difference-in-differences approach and exploiting within-household variation, we show that younger siblings in recipient households display significantly higher levels of inhibitory control than their older counterparts (0.11 standard deviations), having benefited from the programme for the first time at a relatively earlier age. In high-income countries, this behavioural trait has been linked to later-life outcomes such as job success, physical health, and even reduced risk of criminality. Conversely, we find little evidence that enrolment age is associated with long-term memory, working memory, or implicit learning. Employing a threshold estimator, we show that relative gains in inhibitory control are most clearly defined where a child benefits from the programme before they reach 80 months of age (6.7 years). In an extension to our main results, we then conduct mediation analysis, demonstrating that a small but meaningful proportion of this benefit (6.5%) operates through changes in the probability of the child’s timely entry into primary school. PublicationLate-Childhood Foundational Cognitive Skills Predict Educational Outcomes Through Adolescence and Into Young Adulthood: Evidence from Ethiopia and Peru(2022-09-23) Lopez, Jennifer; Behrman, Jere R; Cueto, Santiago; Favara, Marta; Sánchez, AlanWe estimate the associations between a set of foundational cognitive skills (inhibitory control, working memory, long-term memory, and implicit learning) measured at age 12 and educational outcomes measured at ages 15 and 19-20 in Ethiopia and Peru (the Young Lives study). The estimates adjust for a rich set of lagged controls and include measurements of children’s general abilities. For a subset of the outcomes, we exploit within-household variation. Working memory and long-term memory are consistently and positively associated with subsequent domain-specific cognitive achievement tests in both countries, university enrolment in Peru (working memory) and lower secondary-school completion in Ethiopia (long-term memory). Inhibitory control predicts subsequent math-test scores in both countries, and grade attainment in Ethiopia. These results provide additional evidence to justify the importance of promoting investments in cognitive skills throughout childhood and adolescence, and these results potentially elucidate how investments in children impact their educational achievements. PublicationHow Early Nutrition and Foundational Cognitive Skills Interconnect? Evidence from Two Developing Countries(2022-12-16) Sánchez, Alan; Favara, Marta; Sheridan, Margaret; Behrman, Jere RWe use unique data collected in Ethiopia and Peru as part of the Young Lives Study to investigate the relationship between early undernutrition and four foundational cognitive skills, the first two of which measure executive functioning: working memory, inhibitory control, long-term memory, and implicit learning. We exploit the rich longitudinal data available to control for potential confounders at the household level and for time-invariant community characteristics. We also exploit the availability of data for paired-siblings to obtain household fixed-effects estimates. Overall, we find robust evidence that stunting is negatively related with the development of executive functions, predicting reductions in working memory and inhibitory control by 12.6% and 5.8% of a standard deviation. Our results shed light on the mechanisms that explain the relationship between early nutrition and school achievement tests suggesting that good nutrition is an important determinant of children’s learning capacities.