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Sixty Years after the Magic Carpet Ride: The Long-Run Effect of the Early Childhood Environment on Social and Economic Outcomes

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  • Eric D. Gould
  • Victor Lavy
  • M. Daniele Paserman

Abstract

This paper estimates the effect of the childhood environment on a large array of social and economic outcomes lasting almost 60 years, for both the affected cohorts and for their children. To do this, we exploit a natural experiment provided by the 1949 Magic Carpet operation, where over 50,000 Yemenite immigrants were airlifted to Israel. The Yemenites, who lacked any formal schooling or knowledge of a western-style culture or bureaucracy, believed that they were being "redeemed," and put their trust in the Israeli authorities to make decisions about where they should go and what they should do. As a result, they were scattered across the country in essentially a random fashion, and as we show, the environmental conditions faced by immigrant children were not correlated with other factors that affected the long-term outcomes of individuals. We construct three summary measures of the childhood environment: 1) whether the home had running water, sanitation and electricity; 2) whether the locality of residence was in an urban environment with a good economic infrastructure; and 3) whether the locality of residence was a Yemenite enclave. We find that children who were placed in a better environment (i.e. with better sanitary and infrastructure conditions) were more likely to obtain higher education, marry at an older age, have fewer children, and work at age 55. They were also more likely to be assimilated into Israeli society, to be less religious, and have more worldly tastes in music and food. The estimated effects are much more pronounced for women than for men. We find weaker and somewhat mixed effects on health outcomes, and no effect on political views. We do find an effect on the next generation – children who lived in a better environment grew up to have children who achieved higher educational attainment.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 14884.

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Date of creation: Apr 2009
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Publication status: published as Eric D. Gould & Victor Lavy & M. Daniele Paserman, 2011. "Sixty Years after the Magic Carpet Ride: The Long-Run Effect of the Early Childhood Environment on Social and Economic Outcomes," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 78(3), pages 938-973.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:14884

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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. Patacchini, Eleonora & Rainone, Edoardo & Zenou, Yves, 2011. "Dynamic Aspects of Teenage Friendships and Educational Attainment," CEPR Discussion Papers, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers 8223, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  2. Stephen Gibbons & Olmo Silva & Felix Weinhardt, 2013. "Everybody Needs Good Neighbours? Evidence from Students’ Outcomes in England," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, Royal Economic Society, vol. 123, pages 831-874, 09.
  3. Martin Schlotter, 2011. "The Effect of Preschool Attendance on Secondary School Track Choice in Germany - Evidence from Siblings," Ifo Working Paper Series Ifo Working Paper No. 106, Ifo Institute for Economic Research at the University of Munich.
  4. Olivetti, Claudia & Patacchini, Eleonora & Zenou, Yves, 2013. "Mothers, Friends and Gender Identity," CEPR Discussion Papers, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers 9712, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  5. Weinberg, Bruce A., 2013. "Group design with endogenous associations," Regional Science and Urban Economics, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 43(2), pages 411-421.
  6. Luca Stella, 2014. "Living Arrangements in Europe: Whether and Why Paternal Retirement Matters," "Marco Fanno" Working Papers 0177, Dipartimento di Scienze Economiche "Marco Fanno".
  7. Giorgio Brunello & Guglielmo Weber & Christoph Weiss, 2012. "Books are forever: Early life conditions, education and lifetime earnings in Europe," ISER Discussion Paper, Institute of Social and Economic Research, Osaka University 0842, Institute of Social and Economic Research, Osaka University.
  8. Santavirta, Torsten, 2010. "How Large are the Effects from Temporary Changes in Family Environment: Evidence from a Child-evacuation Program during WWII," Working Paper Series 8/2010, Swedish Institute for Social Research.
  9. Carlos Chiapa & José Luis Garrido & Silvia Prina, 2010. "The effect of social programs and exposure to professionals on the educational aspirations of the poor," Serie documentos de trabajo del Centro de Estudios Económicos, El Colegio de México, Centro de Estudios Económicos 2010-11, El Colegio de México, Centro de Estudios Económicos.
  10. Gould, Eric D & Simhon, Avi, 2011. "Does Quality Time Produce Quality Children? Evidence on the Intergenerational Transmission of Human Capital using Parental Deaths," CEPR Discussion Papers, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers 8258, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.

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