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Measuring Investment in Human Capital Formation: An Experimental Analysis of Early Life Outcomes

Author

Listed:
  • Orla Doyle
  • Colm Harmon
  • James J. Heckman
  • Caitriona Logue
  • Seong Moon

Abstract

The literature on skill formation and human capital development clearly demonstrates that early investment in children is an equitable and efficient policy with large returns in adulthood. Yet little is known about the mechanisms involved in producing these long-term effects. This paper presents early evidence on the nature of skill formation based on an experimentally designed, five-year home visiting program in Ireland targeting disadvantaged families - Preparing for Life (PFL). We examine the impact of investment between utero to 18 months of age on a range of parental and child outcomes. Using the methodology of Heckman et al. (2010a), permutation testing methods and a stepdown procedure are applied to account for the small sample size and the increased likelihood of false discoveries when examining multiple outcomes. The results show that the program impact is concentrated on parental behaviors and the home environment, with little impact on child development at this early stage. This indicates that home visiting programs can be effective at offsetting deficits in parenting skills within a relatively short timeframe, yet continued investment may be required to observe direct effects on child development. While correcting for attrition bias leads to some changes in the precision of estimates, overall the results are quite similar.

Suggested Citation

  • Orla Doyle & Colm Harmon & James J. Heckman & Caitriona Logue & Seong Moon, 2013. "Measuring Investment in Human Capital Formation: An Experimental Analysis of Early Life Outcomes," NBER Working Papers 19316, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:19316
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Orla Doyle, 2012. "Breaking the Cycle of Deprivation: An Experimental Evaluation of an Early Childhood Intervention," Working Papers 201212, Geary Institute, University College Dublin.
    2. James Heckman & Flavio Cunha, 2007. "The Technology of Skill Formation," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 97(2), pages 31-47, May.
    3. Doyle, Orla & Harmon, Colm P. & Heckman, James J. & Tremblay, Richard E., 2009. "Investing in early human development: Timing and economic efficiency," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 7(1), pages 1-6, March.
    4. Joseph P. Romano & Michael Wolf, 2005. "Exact and Approximate Stepdown Methods for Multiple Hypothesis Testing," Journal of the American Statistical Association, American Statistical Association, vol. 100, pages 94-108, March.
    5. Eric I. Knudsen & James J. Heckman & Judy L. Cameron & Jack P. Shonkoff, 2006. "Economic, Neurobiological and Behavioral Perspectives on Building America's Future Workforce," NBER Working Papers 12298, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    6. Joseph P. Romano & Azeem M. Shaikh & Michael Wolf, 2010. "Hypothesis Testing in Econometrics," Annual Review of Economics, Annual Reviews, vol. 2(1), pages 75-104, September.
    7. James Heckman & Seong Hyeok Moon & Rodrigo Pinto & Peter Savelyev & Adam Yavitz, 2010. "Analyzing social experiments as implemented: A reexamination of the evidence from the HighScope Perry Preschool Program," Quantitative Economics, Econometric Society, vol. 1(1), pages 1-46, July.
    8. Orla Doyle & Kelly McNamara & Carly Cheevers & Sarah Finnegan & Caitriona Logue & Louise McEntee, 2010. "Preparing for Life Early Childhood Intervention. Impact Evaluation Report 1: Recruitment and Baseline Characteristics," Working Papers 201050, Geary Institute, University College Dublin.
    9. Eric Knudsen & James J. Heckman & Judy Cameron & Jack P. Shonkoff, 2006. "Economic, Neurobiological and Behavioral Perspectives on Building America’s Future Workforce," World Economics, World Economics, 1 Ivory Square, Plantation Wharf, London, United Kingdom, SW11 3UE, vol. 7(3), pages 17-41, July.
    10. LeCroy, Craig Winston & Krysik, Judy, 2011. "Randomized trial of the healthy families Arizona home visiting program," Children and Youth Services Review, Elsevier, vol. 33(10), pages 1761-1766, October.
    11. repec:mpr:mprres:7046 is not listed on IDEAS
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Arnaud Chevalier & Olivier Marie, 2017. "Economic Uncertainty, Parental Selection, and Children’s Educational Outcomes," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 125(2), pages 393-430.
    2. Arnaud Chevalier & Olivier Marie, 2013. "Economic Uncertainty, Parental Selection, and the Criminal Activity of the "Children of the Wall"," SOEPpapers on Multidisciplinary Panel Data Research 605, DIW Berlin, The German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP).
    3. Orla Doyle, 2017. "The First 2,000 Days and Child Skills: Evidence from a Randomized Experiment of Home Visiting," Working Papers 201715, School of Economics, University College Dublin.
    4. repec:ucp:jaerec:doi:10.1086/691686 is not listed on IDEAS
    5. Sammy Zahran & Terrence Iverson & Shawn P. McElmurry & Stephan Weiler, 2017. "The Effect of Leaded Aviation Gasoline on Blood Lead in Children," Journal of the Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, University of Chicago Press, vol. 4(2), pages 575-610.
    6. Orla Doyle & Nick Fitzpatrick & Judy Lovett & Caroline Rawdon, 2015. "Early intervention and child health: Evidence from a Dublin-based randomized controlled trial," Working Papers 201505, Geary Institute, University College Dublin.
    7. Sandner, Malte, 2013. "Effects of Early Childhood Intervention on Child Development and Early Skill Formation. Evidence from a Randomized Controlled Trial," Hannover Economic Papers (HEP) dp-518, Leibniz Universität Hannover, Wirtschaftswissenschaftliche Fakultät.
    8. Doyle, Orla & Fitzpatrick, Nick & Lovett, Judy & Rawdon, Caroline, 2015. "Early intervention and child physical health: Evidence from a Dublin-based randomized controlled trial," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 19(C), pages 224-245.
    9. Chevalier A. & Marie O. & Marie O., 2013. "Economic uncertainty, parental selection, and the criminal activity of the ‘children of the wall’," Research Memorandum 066, Maastricht University, Graduate School of Business and Economics (GSBE).

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • C12 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Econometric and Statistical Methods and Methodology: General - - - Hypothesis Testing: General
    • C93 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Field Experiments
    • J13 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Fertility; Family Planning; Child Care; Children; Youth
    • J24 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity

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