Professor Orazio P. Attanasio, Head of the Department of Economics at University College London (UCL) and Research Director at the Institute for Fiscal Studies at London, has pushed research frontiers by using economic models in combination with field experiments to assess and shape health and education policies in early childhood development in low-income and middle-income settings.
“Investment” of parents is crucial
Inspired by a home-visiting program in Jamaica, Prof. Attanasio and his team designed a stimulation and nutrition program delivered through home visits for communities in 96 Colombian towns, including the largest evaluation of a program of this kind. After 18 months the children in this program had significantly higher cognition and language skills. The research team could show that the developmental improvements were due to the parents “investing” in more time with their children (important for socio-economic skills) and in stimulating materials such as toys and books (important for cognitive development).
With the Klaus J. Jacobs Research Prize money, Attanasio will implement and evaluate an intervention in rural India to provide children with better quality childcare in different settings and for different age groups. This will generate new evidence on the interaction of early interventions at home and center-based interventions for older children.