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Understanding the Mechanisms through Which an Influential Early Childhood Program Boosted Adult Outcomes

  • James Heckman
  • Rodrigo Pinto
  • Peter Savelyev

A growing literature establishes that high quality early childhood interventions targeted toward disadvantaged children have substantial impacts on later life outcomes. Little is known about the mechanisms producing these impacts. This paper uses longitudinal data on cognitive and personality skills from an experimental evaluation of the influential Perry Preschool program to analyze the channels through which the program boosted both male and female participant outcomes. Experimentally induced changes in personality skills explain a sizable portion of adult treatment effects.

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Article provided by American Economic Association in its journal American Economic Review.

Volume (Year): 103 (2013)
Issue (Month): 6 (October)
Pages: 2052-86

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Handle: RePEc:aea:aecrev:v:103:y:2013:i:6:p:2052-86
Note: DOI: 10.1257/aer.103.6.2052
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  1. Alexei Onatski, 2009. "Testing Hypotheses About the Number of Factors in Large Factor Models," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 77(5), pages 1447-1479, 09.
  2. Cunha, Flavio & Heckman, James J. & Schennach, Susanne, 2010. "Estimating the Technology of Cognitive and Noncognitive Skill Formation," IZA Discussion Papers 4702, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  3. Borghans, Lex & Golsteyn, Bart H. H. & Heckman, James & Humphries, John Eric, 2011. "Identification Problems in Personality Psychology," Working Paper Series 5/2011, Swedish Institute for Social Research.
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  5. Heckman, James J. & Moon, Seong Hyeok & Pinto, Rodrigo & Savelyev, Peter & Yavitz, Adam, 2010. "Analyzing Social Experiments as Implemented: A Reexamination of the Evidence from the HighScope Perry Preschool Program," IZA Discussion Papers 5095, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  6. Flavio Cunha & James J. Heckman, 2008. "Formulating, Identifying and Estimating the Technology of Cognitive and Noncognitive Skill Formation," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 43(4).
  7. James J. Heckman & Seong Hyeok Moon & Rodrigo Pinto & Peter A. Savelyev & Adam Yavitz, 2009. "The Rate of Return to the High/Scope Perry Preschool Program," Working Papers 200936, Geary Institute, University College Dublin.
  8. Heckman, James J. & Kautz, Tim, 2012. "Hard evidence on soft skills," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 19(4), pages 451-464.
  9. Louis Guttman, 1954. "Some necessary conditions for common-factor analysis," Psychometrika, Springer, vol. 19(2), pages 149-161, June.
  10. Clive R Belfield & Milagros Nores & Steve Barnett & Lawrence Schweinhart, 2006. "The High/Scope Perry Preschool Program: Cost–Benefit Analysis Using Data from the Age-40 Followup," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 41(1).
  11. Mathilde Almlund & Angela Lee Duckworth & James J. Heckman & Tim D. Kautz, 2011. "Personality Psychology and Economics," NBER Working Papers 16822, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  12. Charles Crawford & George Ferguson, 1970. "A general rotation criterion and its use in orthogonal rotation," Psychometrika, Springer, vol. 35(3), pages 321-332, September.
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  14. James J. Heckman, 2000. "Policies to Foster Human Capital," JCPR Working Papers 154, Northwestern University/University of Chicago Joint Center for Poverty Research.
  15. R. Jennrich & P. Sampson, 1966. "Rotation for simple loadings," Psychometrika, Springer, vol. 31(3), pages 313-323, September.
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  17. John Carroll, 1953. "An analytical solution for approximating simple structure in factor analysis," Psychometrika, Springer, vol. 18(1), pages 23-38, March.
  18. Anderson, Michael L., 2008. "Multiple Inference and Gender Differences in the Effects of Early Intervention: A Reevaluation of the Abecedarian, Perry Preschool, and Early Training Projects," Journal of the American Statistical Association, American Statistical Association, vol. 103(484), pages 1481-1495.
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