Measuring the Returns to Secondary Education

Last registered on March 29, 2022


Trial Information

General Information

Measuring the Returns to Secondary Education
Initial registration date
June 15, 2013

Initial registration date is when the trial was registered.

It corresponds to when the registration was submitted to the Registry to be reviewed for publication.

First published
June 15, 2013, 9:05 AM EDT

First published corresponds to when the trial was first made public on the Registry after being reviewed.

Last updated
March 29, 2022, 2:57 PM EDT

Last updated is the most recent time when changes to the trial's registration were published.



Primary Investigator


Other Primary Investigator(s)

PI Affiliation
Stanford University
PI Affiliation
Harvard University
PI Affiliation
Harvard University
PI Affiliation
Stanford University

Additional Trial Information

On going
Start date
End date
Secondary IDs
Prior work
This trial does not extend or rely on any prior RCTs.
By offering means-tested secondary school scholarships to a randomly selected subset of youth in Ghana, and comparing school enrollment and longer-term outcomes in cognition, health, employment, as well as attitudes and beliefs, between scholarship winners and a similar group of youth not offered a scholarship, this study aims to provide evidence on the barriers to enrollment and estimate the longer-run impacts of secondary education.

Starting in 2017, we began tracking children of the respondents to assess the inter-generational impact of secondary education on cognitive development. This project is conducted in collaboration with Professor Elizabeth Spelke's Laboratory for Development Studies at Harvard University and Mark Walsh.
External Link(s)

Registration Citation

Duflo, Esther et al. 2022. "Measuring the Returns to Secondary Education." AEA RCT Registry. March 29.
Former Citation
Duflo, Esther et al. 2022. "Measuring the Returns to Secondary Education." AEA RCT Registry. March 29.
Sponsors & Partners

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Experimental Details


682 youths who had just completed senior high school and qualified for secondary school on the basis of the gateway exam were randomly selected among 2,054 academically qualified but poor students to receive a 4-year scholarship to cover tuition and fees for senior high school.
Intervention Start Date
Intervention End Date

Primary Outcomes

Primary Outcomes (end points)
educational attainment, cognitive skills, health, fertility and marriage outcomes, labor market participation, attitudes, beliefs, political participation, time and risk preferences, technology adoption

For offspring study focused on intergenerational effects: Children's cognitive development, child survival.
Primary Outcomes (explanation)
- Educational attainment: years of schooling, types of schooling, degrees completed
- Cognitive outcomes: score on achievement test, raven's matrix, digit recall

- Attitudes and preferences: willingness to express opinions, willingness to contribute to public goods, risk aversion, discount rates, fatalism, extroversion, conformism
- Labor market outcomes: Labor market participation, career choices, earnings)
- Non-formal sector livelihoods: coping patterns, use of fertilizer etc
- Savings and asset accumulation: use of formal and informal savings mechanisms, money management etc
- Marriage outcomes: age at marriage, spouse’s characteristics;
- Fertility: age at first pregnancy, number of children, spacing, desired family size
- Health and reproductive health: hygiene and water use habits, days of work, incidence of common diseases such as diarrhea of self and children, nutritional behavior, maternal and child health
- Civic and political participation; beliefs, values, attitudes.
- Outcomes for relatives of scholarship recipients (health and welfare of parents or guardians and siblings, educational achievement of siblings).

For offspring study focused on intergenerational effects: The components of the cognitive development measured are children’s executive function, children’s language skills, children’s math and numeracy, children’s social cognition, children's spatial reasoning.

Secondary Outcomes

Secondary Outcomes (end points)
For offspring study focused on intergenerational effects: Child stunting, caregiver-child interactions, child's socio-economic status, family investment in child, caregiver's aspirations for child, child education, child preventive health, child health, child engagement and stimulation, caregiver depression, child's neighborhood quality
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)
see details in attached pre-analysis plan

Experimental Design

Experimental Design
We sampled 2,064 students (evenly split between males and females) who had completed junior high school and earned admission into a 4-year secondary school (“senior high school”) but had not enrolled by the Fall 2008 due to financial constraints. Out of these 2,064 students, 682 students were selected (by lottery) to receive a scholarship that covered 100% of the tuition and fees at a local public senior high school. The scholarships were announced during the 2008/2009 academic year and over 75% of scholarship winners enrolled in senior high school that year.
The goal is to compare the outcomes of those offered the scholarship (the treatment group) with those who did not win the lottery (the comparison group) for at least 10 years in order to estimate the impacts of lowering the financial barriers to secondary school enrollment and the returns to secondary education. We will track each of the 2,064 students in the baseline sample (both scholarships winners and losers) three times over 10 years to conduct short-, medium-, and long-run follow-ups.

** In addition, as of 2017 we started tracking their children and administering an assessment of cognitive development, based on frontier research in cognitive science and developed for use in Ghana. We are administering assessments when a child reaches the following critical age windows: 14-22 months old, 30-36 months old, 3-4 years old, 5-6 years old, 7-8 years old.
Experimental Design Details
Randomization Method
Randomization done in office by a computer
Randomization Unit
Was the treatment clustered?

Experiment Characteristics

Sample size: planned number of clusters
2064 students and their baseline household co-members (guardians, siblings)
Sample size: planned number of observations
2064 students and their baseline household co-members (guardians, siblings) + their children
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
682 treatment students/households and 1382 control students/households
Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)

Institutional Review Boards (IRBs)

IRB Name
Innovations for Poverty Action (IPA) IRB
IRB Approval Date
IRB Approval Number
IRB Name
Massachusetts Institute of Technology COUHES
IRB Approval Date
IRB Approval Number
IRB Name
IRB Approval Date
IRB Approval Number
IRB Name
Stanford IRB
IRB Approval Date
IRB Approval Number
IRB Name
IRB Approval Date
IRB Approval Number
GHSERC 12/04/17
Analysis Plan

Analysis Plan Documents

Pre-analysis plan: the inter-generational impacts of subsidized secondary education in Ghana

MD5: b35c847433a693b90a9d4a179c0dd785

SHA1: 3a6a3c004849b7ebc281d5d3e7e5a122e2f17053

Uploaded At: February 03, 2022

Pre-analysis plan: the inter-generational impacts of subsidized secondary education in Ghana

MD5: 43ccfe7dc5fec5cae4cc83828013c108

SHA1: aad72abe65dea911f84aa5a6ce024e0dc7995f8f

Uploaded At: March 29, 2022


Post Trial Information

Study Withdrawal

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Is the intervention completed?
Data Collection Complete
Data Publication

Data Publication

Is public data available?

Program Files

Program Files
Reports, Papers & Other Materials

Relevant Paper(s)

Reports & Other Materials