Impact Evaluation - Promoting Infant-Directed Speech in Ghana 2021
Baseline and Endline Surveys
Sample Frame, Households [sf/hh]
While parents universally use "baby talk" to soothe an infant or get her attention, engaging in a second form of infant-directed speech (IDS- talking to young children with complete, if simplified, sentences and a rich variety of word- varies by socioeconomic status (SES) within societies Hart and Risley (1995); Hoff (2003) and across societies Farran et al. (2016). Because IDS promotes cognitive development of children (Monnot, 1999; Weisleder and Fernald, 2013), gaps in IDS compound the disadvantages that children in poorer families face.
The most likely explanation for parental under-investment in IDS is inaccurately low expectations about the pace of child development.A large body of literature in the United States has shown that the lower the parents' SES, the lower their expectations about when children will master certain cognitive skills, e.g., speaking in a partial sentence of 3 words or more (see Cunha et al. (2013) and references therein). In Ghana, our study setting, on average mothers reported parents should start talking to their baby at 11 months, and in full sentences only when the child is 2 years old.
The low usage of IDS among poor parents across the world may significantly hinder early childhood development. Identifying a low-cost and scalable intervention that can successfully increase awareness of the benefits of IDS and increase its practice could be an extremely cost an effective way to raise early childhood development levels. This, in turn, would increase the returns to the government's investments in education, since early childhood development is a critical factor in schooling outcomes.
A simple and scalable intervention was implemented and tested experimentally in Ghana. The intervention consists of showing a short video about IDS to women with a young infant or pregnant women. The three-minute video is a simple animation with a voice-over describing the value of IDS and encouraging the viewer to speak to her babies and tell family members to do so. The video was translated into seven of Ghana's main local languages and English. Viewers could choose the language in which they wanted to hear the video. They could also elect to watch it twice.
Data from a follow-up survey conducted after 6 months is used to estimate the impacts of the intervention on maternal beliefs about IDS, parental practices, and early childhood development. The interventions increased mothers' beliefs in the benefits of IDS and their self-reports of IDS behaviors performed with their infants. The intervention also increased measures of the infants' language and cognitive development that were based on the mother's reports of the infants' behaviors.
Unit of Analysis
- v2.1: Edited, anonymous dataset for public distribution.
Tamale, in Northern Ghana.
Producers and sponsors
Strategic Impact Evaluation Fund
The data is collected from a sample of antenatal and postnatal patients from 10 governmental clinics around the city of Tamale, in Northern Ghana. Respondents were approached during their clinic visits and, if interested, were screened for eligibility. In order to participate, women had to
1) be aged 18-40 years old,
2) have an infant, or be pregnant with a child who would have been 2-18 months old in September 2021, at the time of our follow-up survey, and
3) speak English or Dagbani (the main language in Tamale and one of the 8 languages in which the intervention video is available). Within each clinic, 50% of respondents were randomly selected to watch the intervention video and receive an IDS-themed calendar.
The remaining 50% are part of the control group. They did not watch the video. They received a regular calendar with no mention of IDS.
Dates of Data Collection
Data Collection Mode
Computer Assisted Personal Interview [capi]
Baseline and Endline Survey
Data have been anonymized to remove personal identifying information.
Use of the dataset must be acknowledged using a citation which would include:
- the Identification of the Primary Investigator
- the title of the survey (including country, acronym and year of implementation)
- the survey reference number
- the source and date of download
Mark Walsh (Stanford University), Seema Jayachandran (Princeton University), Pascaline Dupas (Stanford University). Impact Evaluation - Promoting Infant-Directed Speech in Ghana (IDS 2021-2022). Ref: GHA_2021-2022_IDSIE_v01_M. Downloaded from [uri] on [date].
Disclaimer and copyrights
The user of the data acknowledges that the original collector of the data, the authorized distributor of the data, and the relevant funding agency bear no responsibility for use of the data or for interpretations or inferences based upon such uses.