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Breaking the cycle of deprivation : an experimental evaluation of an early childhood intervention

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  • Orla Doyle

Abstract

Deprivation early in life has multiple long term consequences for both the individual and society. An increasing body of evidence finds that targeted, early interventions aimed at at-risk children and their families can reduce socioeconomic inequalities in children’s skills and capabilities. This paper describes a randomised control trial (RCT) evaluation of a five-year preventative programme which aims to improve the school readiness skills of socioeconomically disadvantaged children. The Preparing for Life (PFL) programme is one of the first studies in Ireland to use random assignment to experimentally modify the environment of high risk families and track its impact over time. This paper describes the design and motivation for the study, the randomisation procedure adopted and the baseline data collected. Using Monte Carlo permutation testing, it finds that the randomisation procedure was successful as there are no systematic differences between the treatment and control groups at baseline. This indicates that future analysis of treatment effects over the course of the five year evaluation can be causally attributed to the programme and used to determine the impact of Preparing for Life on children’s school readiness skills.

Suggested Citation

  • Orla Doyle, 2012. "Breaking the cycle of deprivation : an experimental evaluation of an early childhood intervention," Working Papers 201217, School of Economics, University College Dublin.
  • Handle: RePEc:ucn:wpaper:201217
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    File URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10197/3775
    File Function: First version, 2012
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Orla Doyle & Louise McEntee & Kelly A. McNamara, 2010. "Skills, Capabilities and Inequalities at School Entry in a Disadvantaged Community," Working Papers 201014, Geary Institute, University College Dublin.
    2. Carneiro, Pedro & Heckman, James J., 2003. "Human Capital Policy," IZA Discussion Papers 821, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    3. Orla Doyle & Carly Cheevers & Sarah Finnegan & Louise McEntee & Kelly McNamara, 2009. "Report on Children's Profile at School Entry 2008-2009: Evaluation of the 'Preparing For Life' Early Childhood Intervention Programme," Working Papers 200924, Geary Institute, University College Dublin.
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    Cited by:

    1. Doyle, O. & Harmon, C. & Heckman, J.J. & Logue, C,; & Moon, S.H., 2013. "Measuring Investment in Human Capital Formation: An Experimental Analysis of Early Life Outcomes," Health, Econometrics and Data Group (HEDG) Working Papers 13/18, HEDG, c/o Department of Economics, University of York.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Early childhood intervention; RCT; School readiness; Permutation testing; Early childhood education; Readiness for school; Monte Carlo method;

    JEL classification:

    • 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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