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Reading to young children: A head-start in life?

Author

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  • Kalb, Guyonne
  • van Ours, Jan C.

Abstract

This paper investigates the importance of parents reading to their young children. Using Australian data we find that parental reading to children at age 4–5 has positive and significant effects on reading skills and cognitive skills (including numeracy skills) of these children at least up to age 10 or 11. The effects on skills more closely related to reading and language are larger than those on skills such as numeracy skills. However, all findings in relation to reading and other cognitive skills are persistent and robust to a wide range of sensitivity analyses. Although reading to children is also correlated with children's non-cognitive skills, after accounting for the endogeneity of reading to children, no causal effect remains.

Suggested Citation

  • Kalb, Guyonne & van Ours, Jan C., 2014. "Reading to young children: A head-start in life?," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 40(C), pages 1-24.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:ecoedu:v:40:y:2014:i:c:p:1-24
    DOI: 10.1016/j.econedurev.2014.01.002
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. A. L. Mancini & C. Monfardini & S. Pasqua, 2011. "On Intergenerational Transmission of Reading Habits in Italy: Is a Good Example the Best Sermon?," Working Papers wp792, Dipartimento Scienze Economiche, Universita' di Bologna.
    2. Sandra E. Black & Paul J. Devereux & Kjell G. Salvanes, 2005. "The More the Merrier? The Effect of Family Size and Birth Order on Children's Education," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 120(2), pages 669-700.
    3. Cunha, Flavio & Heckman, James J. & Lochner, Lance, 2006. "Interpreting the Evidence on Life Cycle Skill Formation," Handbook of the Economics of Education, Elsevier.
    4. Maani, Sholeh A. & Kalb, Guyonne, 2007. "Academic performance, childhood economic resources, and the choice to leave school at age 16," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 26(3), pages 361-374, June.
    5. Robert Haveman & Barbara Wolfe, 1995. "The Determinants of Children's Attainments: A Review of Methods and Findings," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 33(4), pages 1829-1878, December.
    6. Petra E. Todd & Kenneth I. Wolpin, 2007. "The Production of Cognitive Achievement in Children: Home, School, and Racial Test Score Gaps," Journal of Human Capital, University of Chicago Press, vol. 1(1), pages 91-136.
    7. Feinstein, Leon & Symons, James, 1999. "Attainment in Secondary School," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 51(2), pages 300-321, April.
    8. repec:mpr:mprres:5039 is not listed on IDEAS
    9. James J. Heckman & Dimitriy V. Masterov, 2007. "The Productivity Argument for Investing in Young Children," Review of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 29(3), pages 446-493.
    10. David Roodman, 2011. "Fitting fully observed recursive mixed-process models with cmp," Stata Journal, StataCorp LP, vol. 11(2), pages 159-206, June.
    11. Canoy, Marcel & van Ours, Jan C. & van der Ploeg, Frederick, 2006. "The Economics of Books," Handbook of the Economics of Art and Culture, Elsevier.
    12. Mario Fiorini & Michael P. Keane, 2014. "How the Allocation of Children's Time Affects Cognitive and Noncognitive Development," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 32(4), pages 787 - 836.
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    Cited by:

    1. Chris Ryan, 2016. "Parental Investments and Child Development: Counting Games and Early Numeracy," Melbourne Institute Working Paper Series wp2016n34, Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research, The University of Melbourne.
    2. Goux, Dominique & Gurgand, Marc & Maurin, Eric, 2017. "Reading enjoyment and reading skills: Lessons from an experiment with first grade children," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 45(C), pages 17-25.
    3. World Bank, 2013. "China Early Child Development : Early Childhood Education in Yunnan," World Bank Other Operational Studies 17004, The World Bank.
    4. repec:kap:reveho:v:15:y:2017:i:3:d:10.1007_s11150-015-9287-8 is not listed on IDEAS

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Reading to children; Reading skills; Other cognitive skills;

    JEL classification:

    • C26 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Single Equation Models; Single Variables - - - Instrumental Variables (IV) Estimation
    • I21 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Analysis of Education
    • J24 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity

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