Parental Incentives and Early Childhood Achievement: A Field Experiment in Chicago Heights

Roland G. Fryer, Jr., Steven D. Levitt, John A. List

NBER Working Paper No. 21477
Issued in August 2015
NBER Program(s):   CH   ED   LS

This article describes a randomized field experiment in which parents were provided financial incentives to engage in behaviors designed to increase early childhood cognitive and executive function skills through a parent academy. Parents were rewarded for attendance at early childhood sessions, completing homework assignments with their children, and for their child’s demonstration of mastery on interim assessments. This intervention had large and statistically significant positive impacts on both cognitive and non-cognitive test scores of Hispanics and Whites, but no impact on Blacks. These differential outcomes across races are not attributable to differences in observable characteristics (e.g. family size, mother’s age, mother’s education) or to the intensity of engagement with the program. Children with above median (pre-treatment) non cognitive scores accrue the most benefits from treatment.

You may purchase this paper on-line in .pdf format from ($5) for electronic delivery.

Information about Free Papers

You should expect a free download if you are a subscriber, a corporate associate of the NBER, a journalist, an employee of the U.S. federal government with a ".GOV" domain name, or a resident of nearly any developing country or transition economy.

If you usually get free papers at work/university but do not at home, you can either connect to your work VPN or proxy (if any) or elect to have a link to the paper emailed to your work email address below. The email address must be connected to a subscribing college, university, or other subscribing institution. Gmail and other free email addresses will not have access.


Machine-readable bibliographic record - MARC, RIS, BibTeX

Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w21477

Users who downloaded this paper also downloaded these:
Conti, Heckman, and Pinto w21454 The Effects of Two Influential Early Childhood Interventions on Health and Healthy Behaviors
Baker, Gruber, and Milligan w21571 Non-Cognitive Deficits and Young Adult Outcomes: The Long-Run Impacts of a Universal Child Care Program
Deming w21473 The Growing Importance of Social Skills in the Labor Market
Coe, Goda, and Van Houtven w21483 Family Spillovers of Long-Term Care Insurance
Schwerdt, West, and Winters w21509 The Effects of Test-based Retention on Student Outcomes over Time: Regression Discontinuity Evidence from Florida
NBER Videos

National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02138; 617-868-3900; email:

Contact Us