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Community Nurseries and the Nutritional Status of Poor Children. Evidence from Colombia


  • We are particularly grateful to the staff of Instituto Colombiano de Bienestar Familiar (ICBF), including Maria Francisca Concha, Zulma Fonseca, Ana Maria Peñuela and Yaneth Romero, for answering many questions about the details of the programme Hogares Comunitarios. Special thanks to Jere Behrman, Raquel Bernal, Alejandro Gaviria, Luis Carlos Gómez, Aureo de Paula, Ximena Peña, Jim Smith, Emla Fitzsimons, Petra Todd and the editor for providing us with useful comments. Excellent research assistance was provided by Soledad Giardili. Any errors are the sole responsibility of the authors. The authors acknowledge financial support from the ESRC-DFID Grant RES-167-25-0124 and ESRC-NCRM Node ‘Programme Evaluation for Policy Analysis’ Grant ES/I03685X/1. Attanasio and Vera's research was also financed by Advanced ERC Grant 249612 on ‘Exiting Long Run Poverty: The determinants of asset accumulation in developing countries’.


We use two different data sets and three different instruments to estimate the impact of a long-established pre-school nursery programme on children's nutritional status. We use variables related to cost (fee, distance to the nursery) and programme availability (capacity of the programme in the town) as instruments. One of our data sets is representative of very poor individuals living in rural areas of Colombia, while the other focuses in urban areas and includes individuals relatively less poor. We find that programme participation increases children's height, with the size of the effect being consistent across the three instruments and the two data sets.