Seeing Is Believing: Experimental Evidence on the Impact of Eyeglasses on Academic Performance, Aspirations, and Dropout among Junior High School Students in Rural China


We present results of a randomized trial testing the impact on academic outcomes of providing free eyeglasses to junior high school students in a poor rural area of western China. We find that providing free prescription eyeglasses approximately halves dropout rates over a school year among students who did not own eyeglasses at baseline. Effects on dropout are mirrored by improvements in student performance on standardized exams in math and aspirations for further schooling.

Economic Development and Cultural Change