On November 10-12, 2011, Adolfo Ibáñez University hosted the annual LACEA-LAMES conference in Santiago, Chile.
LACEA is an international association of economists with common research interests. Founded in 1992, it serves as a forum in Latin America where economists and policymakers share ideas. Since its creation, LACEA has grown into an organization with around 1,000 active members, making it the world’s second largest economic association following the AEA (American Economic Association). It has hosted an annual conference since 1996, and has done so in conjunction with LAMES since 2006.
This year, economists from around the world submitted some 900 research articles on topics related to Latin American and Caribbean economics for the conference. Of those, 300 articles were selected and presented in 101 sessions.
At least one presentation related to early childhood development was given in 10 of these 101 general sessions. In the LACEA 2010 and LACEA 2009 conferences, only 5 sessions had presentations on this topic. These presentations covered themes ranging from the relationship between nutrition and cognitive development in Peru, and changes in breastfeeding practices after the introduction of cash transfers in Ecuador, to the impact of childcare centers (nurseries, daycares) on child development.
In addition to general sessions, LACEA has keynote sessions. In these sessions, current topics of research interest are selected and the leading economists on those topics are invited to speak. In 2011, 3 of the 33 keynote sessions offered presentations by leading economists on child development topics (whereas in previous LACEA conferences, this topic was discussed in just one such session). In these sessions, top caliber economists such as Jere Behrman (University of Pennsylvania), Orazio Attanasio (University College London), Costas Meghir (Yale University), Pedro Carneiro (University College London), Paul Gertler (University of California, Berkeley), among others, spoke on labor market returns to very early childhood stimulation in Jamaica; maternity leave benefits and long-run outcomes for children; and the preliminary results of a pilot training program for mothers in Colombia (the so-called madres lideres), that includes home visits to teach mothers how to interact more effectively with their children.
And the good news? …The fact that the academic world is doing more research on early childhood development is good news per se. However, it is also good news that more than a quarter of the presentations given in the last 3 LACEA meetings were authored or co-authored by IDB staff, or financed (partially or fully) by our institution. This makes us very happy because not only are we the leading financier of development loans for Latin America and the Caribbean (document GCI-9, AB-2764), but we are also one of the leading research institutions on a topic that is very relevant for our region.