Gifted Children Programs’ Short and Long-Term Impact: Higher Education, Earnings, and the Knowledge-Economy
We estimate the effects of gifted children programs (GCP) in high schools in Israel. We selected a comparison group of equally gifted students from other cities where GCP was not offered at the time. Based on administrative data, we follow 22 cohorts and measure treatment effects on outcomes, ranging from high school to the labor market in their 30s and 40s. We find tiny impact on academic achievements in high school, in contrast to the abundance of educational resources enjoyed by GCP participants. In the longer run, we find meaningful effects of GCP on higher education attainment. GCP participants study more math, computer, and physical sciences but engage less in engineering programs. The net effect on STEM degrees is, therefore, zero. However, a much higher share of GCP participants graduated with two STEM majors. This evidence suggests that GCP enhances the impact of “multipotentiality,” which characterizes many gifted adolescents. The effect on getting a Ph.D. is positive, too. Lastly, we find no effect of GCP on employment and earnings. Nor do we find that GCP participants work more than other equally talented children in the knowledge economy. These results are very similar for females and males gifted children.
We thank the Central Bureau of Statistics for providing access to data we use in this study at its protected research room in Jerusalem. We also thank Dr Anat Ben-Simon, general director of The National Institute for Testing, for helpful guidance and information about the University Psychometirc Entrance Test. We thank James Fensky, Emma Duchini, and participants in seminars at Ben Gurion University, Bocconi Universiy, CEMFI Madrid, Hebrew University, Pompeuo Fabra, University of Warwick, and the CESifo Education Conference in Munich for useful comments and suggestions. Lavy acknowledges financial support from the Israel Science Foundation, from the Falk Research Institute and from CAGE. The views expressed herein are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Bureau of Economic Research.