No poverty Education Industry innovation infrastructure Partnerships

Education in Brazil

While there is increasing evidence that enhancing the communication between schools and parents significantly improves students’ performance, less is known about what mechanisms drive those effects. In one study, researchers investigate whether informing parents about their children’s attendance, lateness and assignment completion, improves students’ outcomes above and beyond the effects of communication aimed at increasing awareness about those dimensions of children’s effort.

The distinction matters: providing timely and accurate information about children’s behavior requires integrated systems and customized communication, which can be quite costly, particularly in developing countries. Conversely, simply nudging to raise awareness does not require any information systems in place. In a companion study, researchers focus on the question of whether the psychology of poverty influences parents’ willingness to invest in their children. A growing body of evidence suggests that parents play a crucial role in shaping their children’s behavior and performance in school. In fact, differences in parental inputs are viewed as an important cause of intergenerational inequality. The researchers test whether poor parents have a lower propensity to invest in their children due to cognitive load by resorting to survey experiments, priming some parents – but not others – about money, and then presenting them with the opportunity to undertake a costly educational investment in their child. Last, a growing education literature suggests that supporting parents through text messages (SMS) can positively impact students’ behavior and educational attainment. While those studies highlight the potential of text messages for producing cost-effective educational results, there is limited evidence on the optimal design of SMS campaigns. What it the optimal frequency of texting, so as to most effectively capture parents’ attention without saturating it? At what time should messages be sent? Should parents get messages always at the same time? Is interactive content more effective? The answers to those questions are critical as governments and international organizations consider scaling up successful SMS interventions. The researchers study those questions by cross-randomizing different features of the design of a typical SMS campaign targeted at making parenting a habit among families of public schools’ 9th graders in Brazil.

Program area
No Poverty, Education, Industry Innovation Infrastructure, Partnerships
Moral Hazard, Limited Attention, Psychology of Poverty
Stanford University, ITAÚ BBA, São Paulo State Secretariat of Education
Study type
Randomized evaluation
Sample size
15’000 students across 263 schools / 5’000 students across 30 schools
Research Team
Prof. Dr. Guilherme Lichand
Assistant Professor of Child Well-Being and Development
Prof. Dr. Eric Bettinger
Prof. Dr. Eric Bettinger
University of Stanford
Nina Cunha
Nina Cunha
Ricardo Madeira
Ricardo Madeira

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