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Analyzing Social Experiments as Implemented: A Reexamination of the Evidence from the HighScope Perry Preschool Program

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Author Info

  • Heckman, James J.

    ()
    (University of Chicago)

  • Moon, Seong Hyeok

    ()
    (University of Chicago)

  • Pinto, Rodrigo

    ()
    (University of Chicago)

  • Savelyev, Peter

    ()
    (Vanderbilt University)

  • Yavitz, Adam

    ()
    (University of Chicago)

Abstract

Social experiments are powerful sources of information about the effectiveness of interventions. In practice, initial randomization plans are almost always compromised. Multiple hypotheses are frequently tested. "Significant" effects are often reported with p-values that do not account for preliminary screening from a large candidate pool of possible effects. This paper develops tools for analyzing data from experiments as they are actually implemented. We apply these tools to analyze the influential HighScope Perry Preschool Program. The Perry program was a social experiment that provided preschool education and home visits to disadvantaged children during their preschool years. It was evaluated by the method of random assignment. Both treatments and controls have been followed from age 3 through age 40. Previous analyses of the Perry data assume that the planned randomization protocol was implemented. In fact, as in many social experiments, the intended randomization protocol was compromised. Accounting for compromised randomization, multiple-hypothesis testing, and small sample sizes, we find statistically significant and economically important program effects for both males and females. We also examine the representativeness of the Perry study.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) in its series IZA Discussion Papers with number 5095.

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Length: 60 pages
Date of creation: Jul 2010
Date of revision:
Publication status: published in: Quantitative Economics, 2010, 1 (1), 1-46
Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp5095

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Related research

Keywords: social experiment; compromised randomization; early childhood intervention; multiple-hypothesis testing;

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  1. Analysing Social Experiments - Heckman
    by Liam Delaney in Geary Behaviour Centre on 2010-08-11 15:42:00
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