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

Author

Listed:
  • List, John A.

    (Department of Economics)

  • Momeni, Fatemeh

    (Department of Economics)

  • Zenou, Yves

    (Monach University)

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.

Suggested Citation

  • List, John A. & 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," Working Paper Series 1293, Research Institute of Industrial Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:hhs:iuiwop:1293
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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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    Cited by:

    1. Agostinelli, Francesco & Avitabile, Ciro & Bobba, Matteo, 2021. "Enhancing Human Capital at Scale," TSE Working Papers 21-1196, Toulouse School of Economics (TSE).
    2. Agostinelli, Francesco & Avitabile, Ciro & Bobba, Matteo, 2021. "Enhancing Human Capital at Scale," TSE Working Papers 21-1196, Toulouse School of Economics (TSE).
    3. Islam, Asadul & Ushchev, Philip & Zenou, Yves & Zhang, Xin, 2019. "The Value of Information in Technology Adoption," IZA Discussion Papers 12672, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Early education; Neighborhood; Field experiment; Spillover effects; Non-cognitive skills;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • C93 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Field Experiments
    • I21 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Analysis of Education
    • R10 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - General Regional Economics - - - General

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