The power of edutainment: Evidence from Brazil and Nigeria


Published 28.04.21

Telenovelas in Brazil helped reduce fertility rates, while an MTV drama increased knowledge about HIV in Nigeria and encouraged safer sexual practices

Read “Soap Operas and Fertility: Evidence from Brazil” by Eliana La Ferrara, Alberto Chong and Suzanne Duryea here; and “The Entertaining Way to Behavioral Change: Fighting HIV with MTV” by Abhijit Banerjee, Eliana La Ferrara and Victor Orozco here.

Edutainment – the combination of education and entertainment – is based on the idea that media can be entertaining while also conveying an educational message. In this video, Eliana La Ferrara discusses her work on the power of these programmes. In the 1960s, telenovelas in Brazil featured families with fewer children than the average Brazilian family at that time. In a study with Alberto Chong and Suzanne Duryea, La Ferrara found that fertility rates in cities that received these soap operas started to drop. Following up on this, La Ferrara, Abhijit Banerjee and Victor Orozco collaborated with a Nigerian production company to develop an edutainment programme centred on the topic of HIV prevention. The results were striking. Not only did people who watch the programme know more about how to protect themselves against HIV and how to treat the disease, there was also an increase in test rates and in the use of contraception.

Editors' note: This video first appeared on VoxEU.