You are here
Evaluating the impact of high quality infant-toddler centers and preschools in northern Italy
A growing literature establishes that providing enriched early environments to children has substantial long-run impacts on a variety of social, economic and health outcomes, with stronger effects for more disadvantaged children. While the impacts are sizable and long-lasting for small-scale randomized controlled trials, it is unclear whether the results can be sustained when brought up to scale. In this paper we evaluate an influential and long-established preschool program, the Reggio Approach to Early Childhood Education. This is a unique natural experiment which has been in place for fifty years in the city of Reggio Emilia, Italy. Here a universal high-quality early child care system has developed a different vision of the child -- as an individual with rights and potential. The Reggio Approach has received world-wide recognition and has been emulated in different countries and in a variety of settings, but it has never been evaluated. We evaluate the short, medium, and long term effects of this programs using newly collected data of children, adolescents, and adults in three cities in northern Italy: Reggio Emilia, Parma, and Padova. Comparing the Reggio Approach to other existing infant-toddler centers and preschools in these cities, we find moderate effects in the domains of sociability and healthy behaviors.
Pietro Biroli is an assistant professor at the department of economics at the University of Zurich. He is also affiliated to the UBS Center of Economics in Society, and research affiliate at IZA, fRDB, and HCEO. He received his Ph.D. in Economics at the University of Chicago. He is interested in the process of health and human capital development in children and adolescents. In particular, his current research explores the interaction between genetics, family investments, and early childhood interventions in explaining the long-term inequality across gender and socioeconomic status. More broadly, he is interested in Labor Economics, Health Economics, and Applied Microeconometrics.
FBK-IRVAPP, Vicolo Dallapiccola 12, Trento