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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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Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:19185
Note: CH DEV ED LS
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  1. 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).
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