REES Department Seminar: Dr. Pinar Gunes, University of Alberta – Friday, March 15, 2024

Date(s) - 15/03/2024
3:30 pm - 5:00 pm
550 General Services Building, 550 General Services Building University of Alberta , Edmonton Alberta

Title: The Effect of Brazil’s Family Health Program on Cognitive Skills

Speaker: Dr. Pinar Gunes, Associate Professor, Department of Economics, University of Alberta

Date: Friday, March 15, 2023

Time: 3:30 – 5:00 PM

Location: 550 General Services Building


This paper examines the effect of Brazil’s Family Health Program (Programa Saude da
Familia, FHP) on cognitive skills of fifth-grade students. We use biennial data from national
exams between 2007 and 2015, and variation in the FHP implementation date across
municipalities, birth cohort, and test year to identify the effect of the program on language
and mathematics test scores. We find that, in northern municipalities, students exposed
to FHP at or prior to birth have 0.88 points higher language and 1.30 points higher
mathematics test scores compared to those exposed to FHP in childhood. The estimated
effects are intent-to-treat effects and correspond to increases of 0.021sd and 0.030sd in
language and mathematics test scores. We use an event-study analysis demonstrating that
the largest effects of FHP on cognitive skills are for those students exposed at or prior to
birth, with trivial effects if exposed after birth. We do not find evidence for changes in
parental investment behavior or child school attendance, which suggests that the effects
are likely due to the direct impact of the program on child cognitive development.

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