Augmenting State Capacity for Child Development: Experimental Evidence from India
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Alejandro research focuses on how school systems in developing countries can ensure all children acquire basic skills by improving children’s preparation for school, supporting teachers to cater to heterogeneous student groups, and helping principals use data to inform management practices. I pursue this agenda through randomized field trials in Latin America and South Asia. I leverage my training in economics to estimate the impact of interventions and in psychometrics to develop measures of academic and social-emotional development. His research has been published in the American Economic Review, the World Bank Economic Review, the Review of Educational Research, Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, and the Journal for Research on Educational Effectiveness.
He hold a doctorate in Quantitative Policy Analysis in Education from Harvard University, where he was a fellow in the Multidisciplinary Program in Inequality and Social Policy; a master’s in Educational Research from the University of Cambridge, where he was a Gates Scholar; and a bachelor’s in International Politics from Georgetown University. Alejandro was also a post-doctoral fellow at the Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab (J-PAL).
Alejandro is a Non-Resident Fellow at the Center for Universal Education at the Brookings Institution; a Special Invitee of the regional office of J-PAL for Latin America and the Caribbean; and a member of the Advisory Board of the Organization of Ibero-American States for Education, Science, and Culture (OEI). He has worked as a consultant for multiple international organizations, including the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the World Bank, the Inter-American Development Bank, and Innovations for Poverty Action, among others.
Despite growing interest in improving early-childhood education in developing countries, there is little evidence on cost-effective ways of doing so at scale. We use a large-scale randomized experiment to study the impact of adding an extra worker focused on pre-school education (for children aged 3-5) in the world’s largest public early-childhood program: India’s Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS). Adding a worker doubled net instructional time and led to 0.29 and 0.46 standard-deviation (SD) increases in math and language test scores after 18 months for children who remained enrolled in the program. Rates of stunting and severe malnutrition were also lower in the treatment group, likely reflecting the effect of freeing up time of the incumbent worker to focus more on nutrition-related tasks. A cost-benefit analysis suggests that the benefits of the program are likely to significantly exceed its costs even under conservative assumptions.