Abstract: Exposure to school violence has been proven to be detrimental to human capital formation, but there is limited rigorous evidence about how to tackle this pervasive issue. This paper examines the impacts of a large-scale government intervention that aimed to improve school leaders’ skills to manage school violence in Peru. I exploit the eligibility rules used to select beneficiary schools and use a fuzzy regression discontinuity design to estimate the short-term impacts of the intervention on violence and education-related outcomes. The findings show that the likelihood of reporting violence increased by 15 percentage points and that the number of reports of violence rose among eligible schools. Combining unique administrative and primary data, I provide suggestive evidence that the documented rise in reports of violence is primarily due to shifts in reporting rather than a greater incidence of school violence. Upon exploring the short-term impacts on education-related outcomes, I find the intervention reduced students' likelihood of switching schools by two percentage points. These findings add to our understanding of the benefits of investing in school staff skills for safer learning environments.
“Gender Norms, Violence and Adolescent Girls’ Trajectories. Evidence from a Field Experiment in India” (with Alison Andrew, Sonya Krutikova and Hemlata Verma) Submitted
Abstract: Striking gender gaps persist in fundamental aspects of human welfare. In India, the setting of this paper, these gaps are particularly large. Interventions often target adolescent girls with the aim of empowering them to make choices that go against the status quo – to remain in school longer or marry later, for example. This approach may inadvertently expose girls, who are often marginalized within their communities, to new risks if it encourages them to violate prevailing gender norms. In this study, we design an experiment to compare the effectiveness of targeting only adolescent girls with an approach that additionally engages with the enforcers of gender norms in the wider community. We find that both arms of the trial led to a reduction in school dropout and early marriage. We see large improvements in girls’ mental health but only in the arm which engages with the wider community. Improvements in mental health can be explained by community engagement causing gender norms to become more progressive and causing a reduction in the severity of sanctions that girls face for breaking norms. Both adolescent girls and their mothers perceived these shifts in norms and sanctions. Our results demonstrate that in settings where unequal outcomes are sustained through restrictive gender norms, change in the attitudes and behavior of the enforcers of these norms is critical for achieving meaningful improvements in womens well-being.
"When the Data You Have Aren’t the Data You Need: School-Related Violence Data Availability in Low- and Middle-Income Countries" (with David K. Evans, Susannah Hares and DongYi Wu) Submitted
Abstract: School-related violence is a major challenge in many low- and middle-income countries. This is well established by surveys that—if anything—likely underestimate the prevalence of violence in schools. Yet prevalence rates on sexual, physical, and psychological violence are just the first piece of data that policymakers and partners need to combat school-related violence: they also need data on which groups experience violence, which groups commit violence, where and when violence is taking place, and whether it is getting better or worse over time. In this study, we review the availability of data on school-related violence from international surveys administered across low- and middle-income countries as well as national surveys in a sample of countries over the last decade. We find that most countries lack data to answer simple questions that policymakers might ask as precursors to taking action against school-related violence, to understand the consequences of violence, or to monitor progress on reducing violence. For example, only one in six countries has data to measure how many children have recently experienced sexual violence from school staff, none of the countries has the data to track dropouts in the year subsequent to an incident of violence, and none of the surveys could identify how much violence occurs on the way to and from school. The gaps in data are biggest for younger children. We provide a dataset of international surveys with school-related violence questions and recommendations to improve measurement of school-related violence to increase actionability by decision makers in education systems.
Selected work in progress:
"Seeds on Rocky Ground: the role of Alignment on School Principals’ Performance. Evidence from a top-down training intervention in Peru" [Draft available on request]
"Financing health providers: The case of universal health insurance in Peru" (with Antonella Bancalari and Marcos Vera-Hernandez)
Video-Columnas Grupo REDES-Ojo Público: dissemination of recent influential research among economists and non-economists with the aim of encouraging evidence-based policymaking.
Selected Policy & Program Evaluation Reports:
Promoting Adolescent Engagement, Knowledge and Health (PAnKH) in Rajasthan, India: Implementation and Cost-Effectiveness (with Sonya Krutikova, Alison Andrew, Hemlata Verma, Abhishek Gautam, Ravi Verma, Madhumita Das, Pranita Achyut, Ronak Soni and Sanjay Sharma), IFS report, December 2018.
Promoting Adolescent Engagement, Knowledge and Health (PAnKH) in Rajasthan, India: Program Impact Report (with Sonya Krutikova, Alison Andrew, Hemlata Verma, Abhishek Gautam, Ravi Verma, Madhumita Das, Pranita Achyut, Ronak Soni and Sanjay Sharma), IFS report, December 2018.
New Evidence on Pupils’ Skills, Teacher’s Attitudes & Practices from a Baseline Survey of Public Preschools in Timor-Leste (with Sourovi De, Adrian Beavis, Adiba Khaled and Madhav Vaidyanathan), OPM Report, September 2016.
Full list of projects available here.