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Orazio Attanasio Publications

Publish Date
Journal of Development Economics

We present evidence from a randomised experiment testing the impacts of a six-month early childhood home-visiting program on child outcomes and parental investment behaviour at school entry. Two and a half years after completion of the program, we find large persistent effects on parental investment at home, as well as large effects on preschool enrolment. Children in treatment villages were enrolled earlier and in higher quality preschools, the latter reflecting a shift in preferences over preschool attributes towards quality. Finally, we find evidence that the program increased child working memory, but do not find strong evidence of impacts on other cognitive sub-domains or on non-cognitive skills of children at school entry.


United States households’ consumption expenditures and car purchases collapsed during the Great Recession and more so than income changes would have predicted. Using CEX data, we show that both the extensive and the intensive car spending margins contracted sharply in the Great Recession. We also document significant crosscohort differences in the impact of the Great Recession including a stronger reduction in car spending by younger cohorts. We draw inference on the sources of the Great Recession by investigating which shocks can explain household choices in a 60 period life-cycle model with idiosyncratic and aggregate shocks fitted to aggregate and lifecycle moments. We find that the Great Recession was caused by a combination of large aggregate income and wealth shocks, while cross-cohort adjustment patterns imply a role for life-cycle income profile shocks. We also find a role for car loan premia shocks in accounting for car spending and car loans.


Poor early childhood development in low- and middle-income countries is a major public health problem. Efficacy trials have shown the potential of early childhood development interventions but scaling up is costly and challenging. Guidance on effective interventions’ delivery is needed. In an open-label cluster-randomized control trial, we compared the effectiveness of weekly home visits and weekly mother-child group sessions. Both included nutritional education, whose effectiveness was tested separately.

American Economic Review

We examine the channels through which a randomized early childhood intervention in Colombia led to significant gains in cognitive and socio-emotional skills among a sample of disadvantaged children aged 12 to 24 months at baseline. We estimate the determinants of parents' material and time investments in these children and evaluate the impact of the treatment on such investments. We then estimate the production functions for cognitive and socio-emotional skills. The effects of the program can be explained by increases in parental investments, emphasizing the importance of parenting interventions at an early age.


Colombia’s national early childhood strategy launched in 2011 aimed at improving the quality of childcare services offered to socio-economically vulnerable children, and included the possibility that children and their childcare providers could transfer from non-parental family daycare units to large childcare centers in urban areas. This study seeks to understand whether the offer to transfer and the actual transfer from one program to the other had an impact on child cognitive and socioemotional development, and nutrition, using a cluster-randomized control trial with a sample of 2767 children between the ages of 6 and 60 months located in 14 cities in Colombia. The results indicate a negative effect of this initiative on cognitive development, a positive effect on nutrition, and no statistically significant effect of the intervention on socioemotional development. We also explored the extent to which these impacts might be explained by differences in the quality of both services during the transition, and report that quality indicators are low in both programs but are significantly worse in centers compared to community nurseries.