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Are Estimates of Early Education Programs Too Pessimistic? Evidence from a Large-Scale Field Experiment that Causally Measures Neighbor Effects

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  • List, John
  • Momeni, Fatemeh
  • Zenou, Yves

Abstract

We estimate the direct and spillover effects of a large-scale early childhood intervention on the educational attainment of over 2,000 disadvantaged children in the United States. We show that failing to account for spillover effects results in a severe underestimation of the impact. The intervention induced positive direct effects on test scores of children assigned to the treatment groups. We document large spillover effects on both treatment and control children who live near treated children. On average, spillover effects increase a child's non-cognitive (cognitive) scores by about 1.2 (0.6 to 0.7) standard deviations. The spillover effects are localized, decreasing with the spatial distance to treated neighbors. Our evidence suggests the spillover effect on non-cognitive scores are likely to operate through the child's social network. Alternatively, parental investment is an important channel through which cognitive spillover effects operate. We view our results as speaking to several literatures, perhaps most importantly the role of public programs and neighborhoods on human capital formation at an early age.

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  • List, John & Momeni, Fatemeh & Zenou, Yves, 2019. "Are Estimates of Early Education Programs Too Pessimistic? Evidence from a Large-Scale Field Experiment that Causally Measures Neighbor Effects," CEPR Discussion Papers 13725, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  • Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:13725
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    1. Are Estimates of Early Education Programs Too Pessimistic? Evidence from a Large-Scale Field Experiment that Causally Measures Neighbor Effects
      by maximorossi in NEP-LTV blog on 2019-12-18 13:44:34

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    3. Baranov, Victoria & de Haas, Ralph & Grosjean, Pauline, 2018. "Men. Roots and Consequences of Masculinity Norms," Discussion Paper 2018-041, Tilburg University, Center for Economic Research.
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    5. Jens Dietrichson & Ida Lykke Kristiansen & Bjørn A. Viinholt, 2020. "Universal Preschool Programs And Long‐Term Child Outcomes: A Systematic Review," Journal of Economic Surveys, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 34(5), pages 1007-1043, December.
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    early education; field experiment; neighborhood; non-cognitive skills; spillover effects;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • C93 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Field Experiments
    • I21 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Analysis of Education
    • R1 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - General Regional Economics

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