We examine the impacts of accountability-based public per-student subsidies provided to low-cost private schools in Punjab, Pakistan on student enrollment and school inputs. Program entry is contingent on achieving a minimum pass rate on a specially-designed academic test. We use regression discontinuity to estimate impacts on schools that joined the program in the last entry round (phase 4) before follow-up survey data collection. We find large positive impacts on school enrollment, number of teachers, and other inputs for program schools near the minimum pass rate.


ncentivizing Schooling for Learning: Evidence on the Impact of Alternative Targeting Approaches (with Deon Filmer) (Accepted, Journal of Human Resources)

We evaluate a primary school scholarship program in Cambodia with two different targeting mechanisms, one based on poverty level and the other on baseline test scores (“merit”). Both targeting mechanisms increased enrollment and attendance. However, only the merit-based targeting induced positive effects on test scores. We show that the asymmetry of response is unlikely to have been driven by differences between recipients’ characteristics. We explore evidence for the channels by which the framing of the scholarships might have led to different impacts. The results suggest that in order to balance equity and efficiency a two-step targeting approach might be preferable: first, target low-income individuals, and then, among them, target based on merit.