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Labor Market Returns to Early Childhood Stimulation: a 20-year Followup to an Experimental Intervention in Jamaica

  • Paul Gertler
  • James Heckman
  • Rodrigo Pinto
  • Arianna Zanolini
  • Christel Vermeersch
  • Susan Walker
  • Susan M. Chang
  • Sally Grantham-McGregor

We find large effects on the earnings of participants from a randomized intervention that gave psychosocial stimulation to stunted Jamaican toddlers living in poverty. The intervention consisted of one-hour weekly visits from community Jamaican health workers over a 2-year period that taught parenting skills and encouraged mothers to interact and play with their children in ways that would develop their children's cognitive and personality skills. We re-interviewed the study participants 20 years after the intervention. Stimulation increased the average earnings of participants by 42 percent. Treatment group earnings caught up to the earnings of a matched non-stunted comparison group. These findings show that psychosocial stimulation early in childhood in disadvantaged settings can have substantial effects on labor market outcomes and reduce later life inequality.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 19185.

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Date of creation: Jun 2013
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Publication status: published as Science 30 May 2014: Vol. 344 no. 6187 pp. 998-1001 DOI: 10.1126/science.1251178 Report Labor market returns to an early childhood stimulation intervention in Jamaica Paul Gertler1,2,*, James Heckman3,4,5, Rodrigo Pinto3, Arianna Zanolini3, Christel Vermeersch6, Susan Walker7, Susan M. Chang7, Sally Grantham-McGregor8
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:19185
Note: CH DEV ED LS
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  15. Gerard J. van den Berg & Maarten Lindeboom & France Portrait, 2006. "Economic Conditions Early in Life and Individual Mortality," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 96(1), pages 290-302, March.
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