Long-Term Impacts of Primary School Scholarships: Evidence from Cambodia


This randomized trial investigates the long-term effects of a primary school scholarship program in rural Cambodia. We estimate impacts—9 years after program inception—on educational attainment, cognitive skills, socio-emotional outcomes, labor market outcomes, and well-being. Our results point to systematic improvements in educational attainment but no average impacts on long-term cognitive or socio-emotional outcomes. A merit-based (as opposed to poverty-based) targeting strategy did, however, increase cognitive outcomes, especially for poorer students. The results suggest positive effects on cognition for males. We find no improvements in labor market outcomes, yet positive effects on well-being, driven by recipients of merit-based scholarships. These findings shed light on the complex relationship between barriers to primary schooling and long-term outcomes, emphasizing the need for targeted approaches that consider both socioeconomic factors and individual merit, while also raising important questions about gender dynamics.

Journal of Policy Analysis and Management