Can Public Preschool Participation Increase Secondary School Completion and University Enrollment in Uruguay? Evidence from the 2011-2014 Continuous Household Survey
The rapid expansion of the public preschool system in Uruguay has led to increased preschool participation rates throughout the country since 1995. While research in the United States suggests that there is a significant relationship between public preschool participation and higher levels of educational attainment, this relationship has not been thoroughly examined in Uruguay or elsewhere in the Latin America and the Caribbean region. This thesis assesses whether or not public preschool participation in Uruguay can increase secondary school completion rates and university enrollment by the ages of 19 and 20 using data from the Uruguayan Continuous Household Survey from the years 2011 to 2014. The relationships between private preschool participation and the same measures of educational attainment are also estimated to contrast preschool provision between the public and private sectors. Using a matched comparison approach, I find that, compared to no preschool, public preschool participation in Uruguay is significantly associated with higher levels of university enrollment, but not secondary school completion. However, when the sample is broken down into subgroups based on gender and socioeconomic status, public preschool participation is associated with increased secondary school completion rates for males, females, and individuals living below the poverty line, though not for those living above the poverty line. In contrast, private preschool participation, compared to no preschool, is significantly associated with higher levels of both secondary school completion and university enrollment for the overall sample.
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