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NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
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Early Childhood Education by MOOC: Lessons from Sesame Street

Melissa S. Kearney, Phillip B. Levine

NBER Working Paper No. 21229
Issued in June 2015, Revised in September 2016
NBER Program(s):Children, Economics of Education, Labor Studies

This paper investigates whether preschool children exposed to Sesame Street when it began in 1969 experienced improved educational and labor market outcomes subsequently. We exploit geographic variation in broadcast reception derived from technological limitations, including distance to a broadcast tower and UHF versus VHF transmission. We relate this variation to Census data on grade-for-age status, educational attainment, and labor market outcomes in 1980, 1990, and 2000, respectively. The results indicate that Sesame Street improved school readiness, particularly for boys and children living in economically disadvantaged areas. The estimated impact on ultimate educational attainment and labor market outcomes is inconclusive.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w21229

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