de Walque, Damien
Development Research Group
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Fields of Specialization
Education, Macroeconomic and Structural Policies, Health
Development Research Group
Externally Hosted Work
Last updated October 24, 2023
Damien de Walque is a Lead Economist in the Development Research Group (Human Development Team) at the World Bank. He received his Ph.D.in Economics from the University of Chicago in 2003. His research interests include health and education and the interactions between them. His current work is focused on evaluating the impact of financial incentives on health and education outcomes. He is currently evaluating the education and health outcomes of conditional cash transfers linked to school attendance and health center visits in Burkina Faso. He is also working on evaluating the impact of HIV/AIDS interventions and policies in several African countries. He is leading two evaluations of the impact of short-term financial incentives on the prevention of HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted infections (STIs): individuals who test negatively for a set of STIs receive regular cash payment in Tanzania, while in Lesotho they receive lottery tickets. On the supply side of health services, he is managing a large portfolio of impact evaluations of results-based financing in the health sector. He has also edited a book on risky behaviors for health (smoking, drugs, alcohol, obesity, risky sex) in the developing world.
Publication Search Results
Now showing 1 - 10 of 11
Cash Transfers and Child Schooling : Evidence from a Randomized Evaluation of the Role of Conditionality(World Bank, Washington, DC, 2013-01) Akresh, Richard ; de Walque, Damien ; Kazianga, HarounanThe authors conduct a randomized experiment in rural Burkina Faso to estimate the impact of alternative cash transfer delivery mechanisms on education. The two-year pilot program randomly distributed cash transfers that were either conditional or unconditional. Families under the conditional schemes were required to have their children ages 7-15 enrolled in school and attending classes regularly. There were no such requirements under the unconditional programs. The results indicate that unconditional and conditional cash transfer programs have a similar impact increasing the enrollment of children who are traditionally favored by parents for school participation, including boys, older children, and higher ability children. However, the conditional transfers are significantly more effective than the unconditional transfers in improving the enrollment of "marginal children" who are initially less likely to go to school, such as girls, younger children, and lower ability children. Thus, conditionality plays a critical role in benefiting children who are less likely to receive investments from their parents.
Publication( 2012-02-01) Akresh, Richard ; Bagby, Emilie ; de Walque, Damien ; Kazianga, HarounanUsing data collected in rural Burkina Faso, this paper examines how children's cognitive abilities influence households' decisions to invest in their education. To address the endogeneity of child ability measures, the analysis uses rainfall shocks experienced in utero or early childhood to instrument for ability. Negative shocks in utero lead to 0.24 standard deviations lower ability z-scores, corresponding with a 38 percent enrollment drop and a 49 percent increase in child labor hours compared with their siblings. Negative education impacts are largest for in utero shocks, diminished for shocks before age two, and have no impact for shocks after age two. The paper links the fetal origins hypothesis and sibling rivalry literatures by showing that shocks experienced in utero not only have direct negative impacts on the child's cognitive ability (fetal origins hypothesis), but also negatively impact the child through the effects on sibling rivalry resulting from the cognitive differences.
Publication( 2010-07-01) Akresh, Richard ; Bagby, Emilie ; de Walque, Damien ; Kazianga, HarounanUsing data they collected in rural Burkina Faso, the authors examine how children's cognitive abilities influence resource constrained households' decisions to invest in their education. This paper uses a direct measure of child ability for all primary school-aged children, regardless of current school enrollment. The analysis explicitly incorporates direct measures of the ability of each child s siblings (both absolute and relative measures) to show how sibling rivalry exerts an impact on the parents decision of whether and how much to invest in their child s education. The findings indicate that children with one standard deviation higher own ability are 16 percent more likely to be currently enrolled, while having a higher ability sibling lowers current enrollment by 16 percent and having two higher ability siblings lowers enrollment by 30 percent. The results are robust to addressing the potential reverse causality of schooling influencing child ability measures and using alternative cognitive tests to measure ability.
Publication(World Bank, Washington, D.C., 2004-11) de Walque, DamienThe author studies the long-term impact of genocide during the period of the Khmer Rouge (1975-79) in Cambodia and contributes to the literature on the economic analysis of conflict. Using mortality data for siblings from the Cambodia Demographic and Health Survey in 2000, he shows that excess mortality was extremely high and heavily concentrated during 1974-80. Adult males had been the most likely to die, indicating that violent death played a major role. Individuals with an urban or educated background were more likely to die. Infant mortality was also at very high levels during the period, and disability rates from landmines or other weapons were high for males who, given their birth cohort, were exposed to this risk. The very high and selective mortality had a major impact on the population structure of Cambodia. Fertility and marriage rates were very low under the Khmer Rouge but rebounded immediately after the regime's collapse. Because of the shortage of eligible males, the age and education differences between partners tended to decline. The period had a lasting impact on the educational attainment of the population. The education system collapsed during the period, so individuals-especially males-who were of schooling age during this interval had a lower educational attainment than the preceding and subsequent birth cohorts.
Publication(World Bank, Washington, DC, 2022-09) Cardim, Joana ; Carneiro, Pedro ; Carvalho, Leandro S. ; de Walque, DamienOne way to advance understanding of individual differences in decision making is to study the development of children’s decision making. This paper studies the causal effects of daycare attendance on children’s economic preferences and decision-making abilities, exploiting a lottery system that randomized admissions into oversubscribed daycare centers in Rio de Janeiro. Overall, daycare attendance had no effect on economic preferences or decision-making abilities. However, it did increase aversion to disadvantageous inequality (having less than one’s peer). This increase is driven mostly by girls, a result that reproduces in a different study that randomized admissions into preschool education.
Educational and Health Impacts of Two School Feeding Schemes : Evidence from a Randomized Trial in Rural Burkina Faso( 2009-06-01) Kazianga, Harounan ; de Walque, Damien ; Alderman, HaroldThis paper uses a prospective randomized trial to assess the impact of two school feeding schemes on health and education outcomes for children from low-income households in northern rural Burkina Faso. The two school feeding programs under consideration are, on the one hand, school meals where students are provided with lunch each school day, and, on the other hand, take-home rations that provide girls with 10 kg of cereal flour each month, conditional on 90 percent attendance rate. After running for one academic year, both programs increased girls enrollment by 5 to 6 percentage points. While there was no observable significant impact on raw scores in mathematics, the time-adjusted scores in mathematics improved slightly for girls. The interventions caused absenteeism to increase in households that were low in child labor supply while absenteeism decreased for households that had a relatively large child labor supply, consistent with the labor constraints. Finally, for younger siblings of beneficiaries, aged between 12 and 60 months, take-home rations have increased weight-for-age by .38 standard deviations and weight-for-height by .33 standard deviations. In contrast, school meals did not have any significant impact on the nutrition of younger children.
Publication(World Bank, Washington, DC, 2018-06) de Walque, Damien ; Valente, ChristineEducation conditional cash transfer programs may increase school attendance in part due to the information they transmit to parents about their child's attendance. This paper presents experimental evidence that the information content of an education conditional cash transfer program, when given to parents independently of any transfer, can have a substantial effect on school attendance. The effect is as large as 75 percent of the effect of a conditional cash transfer incentivizing parents, and not significantly different from it. In contrast, a conditional transfer program incentivizing children instead of parents is nearly twice as effective as an "information only" treatment providing the same information to parents about their child's attendance. Taken together, these results suggest that children have substantial agency in their schooling decisions. The paper replicates the findings from most evaluations of conditional cash transfers that gains in attendance achieved by incentivizing parents financially do not translate into gains in test scores. But it finds that both the information only treatment and the alternative intervention incentivizing children substantially improve math test scores.
Publication(World Bank, Washington, DC, 2008-04) Akresh, Richard ; de Walque, DamienCivil war, and genocide in particular, are among the most destructive of social phenomena, especially for children of school-going age. In Rwanda school enrollment trends suggest that the school system recovered quickly after 1994, but these numbers do not tell the full story. Two cross-sectional household surveys collected before and after the genocide are used to compare children in the same age group who were and were not exposed to the genocide - and their educational outcomes are substantially different. Children exposed to the genocide experienced a drop in educational achievement of almost one-half year of completed schooling, and are 15 percentage points less likely to complete third or fourth grade. Sustained effort is needed to reinforce educational institutions and offer a "second chance" to those youth most affected by the conflict.
Race, Immigration, and the U.S. Labor Market : Contrasting the Outcomes of Foreign Born and Native Blacks(World Bank, Washington, DC, 2008-10) de Walque, DamienIt is generally expected that immigrants do not fare as well as the native-born in the U.S. labor market. The literature also documents that Blacks experience lower labor market outcomes than Whites. This paper innovates by studying the interaction between race and immigration. The study compares the labor market outcomes of four racial groups in the United States (Whites, Blacks, Asians, and Hispanics) interacted with their foreign born status, using the Integrated Public Use Micro Data Series data for the 2000 Census. Among women and for labor market outcomes such as labor force participation, employment, and personal income, the foreign born are doing worse than the native born from the same racial background, with the exception of Blacks. Among men, for labor force participation and employment, foreign-born Blacks are doing better than native Blacks. The paper tests different possible explanations for this "reversal" of the advantage of natives over immigrants among Blacks. It considers citizenship, ability in English, age at and time since arrival in the United States, as well as neighborhood effects, but concludes that none of these channels explains or modifies the observed reversal.
Publication(Washington, DC: World Bank, 2014) de Walque, Damien ; de Walque, DamienBehaviors that pose risks for an individual’s health and that also represent important threats for public health, such as drug use, smoking, alcohol, unhealthy eating causing obesity, and unsafe sex, are highly prevalent in low income countries, even though they are traditionally associated with richer countries. Individual choices are an important part of the risky behaviors. Risking Your Health: Causes, Consequences, and Interventions to Prevent Risky Behaviors explore how those choices are formed and what are their consequences. Why do people engage in risky behaviors? Many different explanations have been proposed by psychology, sociology, economics or public health. One trait common to all these behaviors is that there is a disconnect – a function of both delay and uncertainty - between the pleasure or satisfaction provided by them and their consequences. Another characteristic of risky behaviors is that they rarely occur in isolation. Peer-pressure, parental influences, networks and social norms often play an important role in initiating, continuing, or quitting those behaviors. Even if they might often be the first to suffer, the consequences of risky behaviors are also rarely limited to the individuals engaging in them. In certain cases, such as second-hand smoking or HIV transmission, the link is direct. In other cases, the link is less direct but not necessarily less real: the long term health consequences of many of these behaviors are costly to treat and could stretch households’ finances and worsen poverty. Finally, these risky behaviors have consequences for society as a whole since they often trigger a non-trivial amount of public health expenditures and lead to declines in aggregate productivity through premature death and morbidity. Changing behaviors is tricky -- public health interventions via legislation with strong enforcement mechanisms can be more effective than simple communication campaigns informing consumers about the risks associated with certain behaviors, since translating knowledge into concrete changes in behavior seems to be hard to achieve. Economic mechanisms such as taxes (especially on alcohol and tobacco products), subsidies (such as free condoms), and conditional/unconditional cash transfers are also used to reduce risky behaviors (for example in HIV prevention). Of great interest to policy makers, academics and practitioners, this book assesses the efficiency of those interventions designed to reduce the prevalence of behaviors that endanger health.