Using Behavioral Insights to Increase Parental Engagement: The Parents and Children Together (PACT) Intervention
Parent engagement with their children plays an important role in children’s eventual economic success and numerous studies have documented large gaps in parent engagement between low- and higher-income families. While we know remarkably little about what motivates parents to engage in their children’s development, recent research suggests that ignoring or discounting the future may inhibit parental investment, while certain behavioral tools may help offset this tendency. This paper reports results from a randomized field experiment designed to increase the time that parents of children in subsidized preschool programs spend reading to their children using an electronic reading application that audio and video records parents as they read. The treatment included three behavioral tools (text reminders, goal-setting, and social rewards) as well as information about the importance of reading to children. The treatment increased usage of the reading application by one standard deviation after the six-week intervention. Our evidence suggests that the large effect size is not accounted for by the information component of the intervention and that the treatment impact was much greater for parents who are more present-oriented than for parents who are less present-oriented.
The authors gratefully acknowledge financial support from the Center for Human Potential and Public Policy and the Harpel Initiative at the University of Chicago and from an anonymous foundation. The authors would like to thank André Richter and Martin Eckhoff Andresen and other members of the Behavioral Insights and Parenting Lab Ph.D. workshop for helpful comments as well as Keri Lintz and Jill Gandhi for their contributions to the study design and fieldwork. This study was registered in the American Economic Association Registry for randomized control trials under Trial number 804. The views expressed herein are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Bureau of Economic Research.
Susan E. Mayer & Ariel Kalil & Philip Oreopoulos & Sebastian Gallegos, 2019. "Using Behavioral Insights to Increase Parental Engagement," Journal of Human Resources, vol 54(4), pages 900-925.