Child Discipline and Social Programs: Evidence from Colombia

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April 2016
Paper author(s): 
Diana Lopez-Avila
Demographic Economics - Migration
Education - Health

This paper examines how interventions during early childhood affect disciplining methods in Colombia, where poor households are eligible for a number of social programs targeted to young children, based on a proxy means index. These programs include child care options, nutritional programs and health checks. I analyze whether these programs affect parents’ disciplining methods through two different identification strategies. I implement a regression discontinuity design exploiting the discontinuity on the probability of benefiting from these programs, as a function of the proxy means index used for targeting. I also implement a propensity score matching using differences in length of exposure to one of these programs, a subsidized child care program. Results from the first identification strategy show that fathers of children who benefit from these programs to a larger extent, use less physical ways to discipline their children. On the other hand, mothers of children who have been exposed longer to the subsidized child care option, appear to move to more pedagogic ways of discipline. These results hold in particular for households with working or more educated mothers.


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