Wealth Gradients in Early Childhood Cognitive Development in Five Latin American Countries

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Grand Challenges Canada Economic Returns to Mitigating Early Life Risks Project Working Paper Series
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Early Childhood Development
Cognitive Development
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Latin America
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Cognitive Psychology
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Research from the United States shows that gaps in early cognitive and non-cognitive ability appear early in the life cycle. Little is known about this important question for developing countries. This paper provides new evidence of sharp differences in cognitive development by socioeconomic status in early childhood for five Latin American countries. To help with comparability, we use the same measure of receptive language ability for all five countries. We find important differences in development in early childhood across countries, and steep socioeconomic gradients within every country. For the three countries where we can follow children over time, there are few substantive changes in scores once children enter school. Our results are robust to different ways of defining socioeconomic status, to different ways of standardizing outcomes, and to selective non-response on our measure of cognitive development. Acknowledgments: This research was supported by the Inter-American Development Bank, the World Bank, the Eunice Shriver Kennedy National Institute of Child Health and Development (Grant R01-HD065436) and Grand Challenges Canada (Grant 10036540).

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Schady, Norbert, Jere R. Behrman, Maria Caridad Araujo, Rodrigo Azuero, Raquel Bernal, David Bravo, Florencia Lopez-Boo, Karen Macours, Daniela Marshall, Christina Paxson, and Renos Vakis. 2014. "Wealth Gradients in Early Childhood Cognitive Development in Five Latin American Countries" GCC Working Paper Series, GCC 14-02.
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