Ruhr Economic Papers

Ruhr Economic Papers #856

Encouraging Parents to Invest: A Randomized Trial with two Simple Interventions in Early Childhood

by Cara Ebert, Esther Heesemann and Sebastian Vollmer

RWI, 12/2020, 58 S./p., 10 Euro, ISBN 978-3-86788-992-6 DOI: 10.4419/86788992



The lottery of birth draws some children into deprived environments and others into environments
where they thrive. In a field experiment in rural India with 10-20 months old children we test two scalable interventions to reduce early disadvantages in health and mental development. We distribute a durable device for home iron fortification of meals, called the Lucky Iron Leaf, and picture books together with a training for caregivers in dialogic reading. We find no significant average impact of either intervention on anemia or mental development. However, we find a cross-productivity of children’s baseline health and the interventions’ effectiveness. Children, who are non-anemic at baseline, improve in receptive language skills by half a standard deviation one year after implementation.

JEL-Classification: D04, I12, I15, J13

Keywords: Early childhood; parental investment; nutrition; health behavior; human capital