Early Childhood Education by MOOC: Lessons from Sesame Street
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.