This paper presents child-age-1 findings on economic well-being from the Baby’s First Years (BFY) randomized control study. The study consists of 1,000 mother infant pairs in four ethnically and geographically diverse U.S. regions (Omaha, New Orleans, NYC and the Twin Cities) who were randomized to receive $333/month (the high cash gift group) or $20/month (the low cash gift group) via a debit card. The child-age-1 data collection was an in-person survey coupled with objective assessments of parenting and children’s brain functioning until COVID hit in March 2020 when we quickly switched to phone only interviews. As the study was designed to provide strong and clear evidence about the magnitude and pathways of causal connections between family income and early childhood development, Gennetian, Magnuson, Noble, Duncan, Fox, Halpern-Meekin, and Yoshikawa have collected extensive measures on economic outcomes, including household income, general household and child expenditures, economic distress, and material hardship. The researchers additionally have data on the moms’ transactions with the debit card. Gennetian, Magnuson, Noble, Duncan, Fox, Halpern-Meekin, and Yoshikawa propose to present ITT estimates on these economic outcomes, as well as a descriptive analysis of our transaction data. More information about the study can be found at https://www.babysfirstyears.com/
A randomized control trial in India showed that reducing liquidity constraints among urban microentrepreneurs raised household income two years after the loan was repaid (Field et al., 2013). Agte, Bernhardt, Field, Pande, and Rigol present new evidence that the economic benefits persisted and spilled over to the next generation. Relative to control, treatment households report 13% and 8% higher incomes five and eleven years after the intervention. Treatment households spend more on private secondary schooling and after-school tutoring for their children and, subsequently, these children are 34% more likely to attend college. The observed educational patterns are consistent with poor households facing a trade-off between investing in their enterprise and in their children's human capital. Consequently, average gains in children's education are also accompanied by greater educational inequality across treatment households.
Prakash, Fiala, Narula, and Garcia-Hernandez study the impact of a program that provides a bicycle to a school-going girl who lives more than 3 km from the school. They randomized whether a girl receives a bicycle with a small cost to her family to cover replacement parts, a bicycle where these costs are covered by the program and so is zero cost to the family or a control group. The researcher find that the bicycle reduced average commuting time to school by 35%, late arrival by 66%, and decreased absenteeism by 27% in the short and medium-run. Prakash, Fiala, Narula, and Garcia-Hernandez also find evidence of increased grade transition in the medium-run, improved math test scores, girls expressing higher feelings of control over their lives and, for those who received bicycles with a small cost to her family, higher levels of aspirations, self-image, and a desire to delay marriage and pregnancy. Heterogeneity analysis by distance to school shows an inverted U-shape for most of the schooling and empowerment results, suggesting those impacts are larger for girls that live further away from school. This also suggests that empowerment outcomes worked through increased attendance in school.
Fryer Jr, Levitt, List, and Samek present the results of an early childhood intervention in which mostly disadvantaged 3-4-year-old children were randomized to a typical preschool program (9 months), a novel shortened summer program (2 months) or a control group. Both programs incorporated a parenting component and focused on improving academic and executive functioning skills. Both programs significantly improved academic test scores by one quarter of a standard deviation relative to the control group, but neither had a significant impact on executive functioning. Despite its significantly lower cost, the shortened program was equally as effective as the typical program. This suggests a potentially cost-effective way to reduce the academic achievement gap and improve the Kindergarten-readiness skills of disadvantaged children. Fryer Jr, Levitt, List, and Samek are now collecting data on standardized test scores to understand the long-term impacts of these programs.
The health care system uses patient family medical history in many settings, and this practice is widely believed to improve the efficiency of health care allocation. This paper provides a counterpoint by documenting that reliance on hereditary information can amplify the misallocation of low-value care. Persson, Qiu, and Rossin-Slater study Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, and show that reliance on family medical history generates a "snowball effect"--the propagation of an original marginal diagnosis to a patient's relatives. This snowball effect raises the private and social costs of low-value care. The researchers' analysis suggests that simple adjustments to physician protocols can mitigate marginal diagnosis spillovers.
In addition to the conference paper, the research was distributed as NBER Working Paper w28334, which may be a more recent version.
In 1996, following an epidemic, Pfizer tested a new drug on 200 children in Muslim Nigeria. 11 children died and multiple were disabled. Archibong and Annan study the effects of negative news on vaccine compliance using evidence from the 2000 disclosure of deaths of Muslim children in the Pfizer trials. Muslim mothers reduced routine vaccination of children born after the 2000 disclosure. The effect was stronger for educated mothers and mothers residing in minority Muslim neighborhoods with relatively stronger ties to religious networks. The disclosure did not affect other health-seeking behavior of mothers, and the reduction effect is specific to child vaccination.
Using three datasets, Duquennois shows that disadvantaged students perform worse when randomly given a financially salient mathematics exam. For students with socioeconomic indicators below the national median, a 10 percentage point increase in the share of monetary themed questions depresses exam performance by 0.026 standard deviations, about 6% of their performance gap. Using question-level data, Duquennois confirms the role of financial salience by comparing performance on monetary and non-monetary questions. Leveraging the randomized ordering of questions, the researcher identifies an effect on subsequent questions, providing evidence that the attention capture effects of poverty affect policy relevant outcomes outside of experimental settings.
Cobb-Clark, Ho, and Salamanca estimate the causal impact of providing parents with objective information about their children’s academic achievement on their child investments. Identification comes from quasi-experimental variation in the timing of the release of national standardized test score reports. The release of these report leads to a 43 percent increase in private tutoring and a 22 percent reduction in extracurricular activities; it has no effect on other parental investments, including parenting style. The release of test reports also leads parents to have more modest perceptions of their child’s school achievement. Using forecasted vs actual score comparisons, the researchers show that the effect on parents’ perceptions is driven by receiving unexpectedly “bad” child test performance news and is also stronger among children attending public schools. Their findings suggest that while test score information might help align parents’ perception of their child’s school achievement, these perceptions are not the key drivers of the effects of test score results on parental investments.