Labor Market Returns to Early Childhood Stimulation: a 20-year Followup to an Experimental Intervention in Jamaica
Paul Gertler, James Heckman, Rodrigo Pinto, Arianna Zanolini, Christel Vermeersch, Susan Walker, Susan M. Chang, Sally Grantham-McGregor
We find large effects on the earnings of participants from a randomized intervention that gave psychosocial stimulation to stunted Jamaican toddlers living in poverty. The intervention consisted of one-hour weekly visits from community Jamaican health workers over a 2-year period that taught parenting skills and encouraged mothers to interact and play with their children in ways that would develop their children's cognitive and personality skills. We re-interviewed the study participants 20 years after the intervention. Stimulation increased the average earnings of participants by 42 percent. Treatment group earnings caught up to the earnings of a matched non-stunted comparison group. These findings show that psychosocial stimulation early in childhood in disadvantaged settings can have substantial effects on labor market outcomes and reduce later life inequality.
Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w19185
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