Studies from low-, middle-, and high-income countries show that children brought up in a more favorable early environment benefit in the long run. They are healthier, taller, have higher cognitive ability and educational attainment, and earn significantly higher wages. As a result, preschool construction programs are often assumed to hold considerable promise to increase school readiness while reducing socioeconomic gaps in human capital development. Researchers Adrien Bouguen (University of Mannheim), Deon Filmer (World Bank), Karen Macours (Paris School of Economics and INRA), and Sophie Naudeau (World Bank) examined a school construction project in Cambodia to see if this kind of effort had the desired results. They found that a poor understanding of parent response may be at the heart of the program’s disappointing results.
Continue reading “Preschool and Parents’ Reactions in a Developing Country: Evidence from a School Construction Experiment in Cambodia”
Government-sponsored job training programs are believed to be essential to improve the job prospects of economically disadvantaged citizens and reduce dependence on safety net programs, but do they work? Job Corps is the main federal training program in the United States targeted at disadvantaged youth ages 16 to 24. Xuan Chen (Renmin University of China), Carlos A. Flores (California Polytechnic State University at San Luis Obispo), and Alfonso Flores-Lagunes (Syracuse University) measure the effectiveness of Job Corps training and find a positive effect on three important outcomes—earnings, employment, and amount of public benefits received.
Continue reading “Job Corps Improves Earnings, Employment, and Use of Public Benefits…Even for Eligible Nonparticipants”
Because experiences in early childhood are known to influence child development, preschool programs are often viewed as policy interventions with the most potential to improve the prospects of children from low-income families. In a new study, Owen Thompson (University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee) examined the impact of Head Start on a variety of socioeconomic outcomes for participants through age 48.
Continue reading “Head Start’s Long-Run Impact”
Our understanding of the age at which the black–white test gap emerges has been hampered by two overlooked factors. Timothy N. Bond (Purdue University) and Kevin Lang (Boston University) address these issues in a forthcoming paper in the Journal of Human Resources.
Continue reading ““Growth” in Black–White Test Gap Is Due to Poor Measurement”
The choice of college major can have big implications for students’ long-term outcomes, such as lifetime earnings, but researchers have limited evidence on what helps shape this decision. New research by Christopher Avery (Harvard University), Oded Gurantz (Stanford University, College Board), Michael Hurwitz (College Board), and Jonathan Smith (Georgia State University) examined how Advanced Placement (AP), a national program that exposes high school students to a college-level curriculum, shapes students’ choice of college major.
Continue reading “AP Exam Scores Impact College Major Choice”
Researchers—and parents of teenagers—have long suspected that school starts too early in the morning for adolescents. New research by Jenni Heissel (Naval Postgraduate Academy) and Sam Norris (Northwestern University) shows exactly how much early start times are hindering academic achievement.
Continue reading “Later Start Times Increase Academic Achievement for Teens”
The use of school accountability systems is becoming increasingly popular as a way of changing school behavior to improve school performance. School accountability systems can be divided into two broad categories: soft and hard accountability systems. Soft accountability systems provide information about school performance to parents, students, and the schools themselves, which can influence school behavior. Hard accountability systems tie rewards and punishments to school performance, directly affecting incentives faced by schools. A new study looks at the effect of releasing information about school performance on future performance.
Continue reading “Does More Information, Like Releasing Test Scores, Improve Schools? Yes, But Not All”
Most children in Sub-Saharan Africa are enrolled in school these days, but for reasons not well understood, they learn very little. Previous research has shown that a lack of physical resources, such as textbooks and flip charts, cannot explain these low levels of achievement. New study finds that when teachers lack knowledge, their students fall behind.
Continue reading “You Can’t Teach What You Don’t Know: Teachers’ Lack of Knowledge Hampers Student Learning in Sub-Saharan Africa”
A myriad of studies find that later-born children have worse educational and labor market outcomes as adults than their older siblings, a phenomenon known as the “birth order effect.” New research finds these differences begin very early in children’s lives—and parenting behavior can explain it.
Continue reading “Why Do First-Borns Perform Better? The First Years”
Social Security provides a large portion of household income in old age. Most women receive at least some Social Security benefits over their lifetime based upon their husbands’ work record, and this will continue even as women are more attached to the labor market and receive higher wages. Unfortunately for many wives, the age her husband begins receiving Social Security benefits can have a spillover effect and also impact her lifetime benefits.
Continue reading “Study Finds Wives Often Lose When Husbands Take Social Security Early”