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”
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”
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”
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”
The role of psychological attributes such as hope and self-efficacy in escaping poverty has attracted increasing attention among economists, policy-makers, and development practitioners. Researchers recently borrowed a technique from clinical psychology to learn what self-portraits can tell us about the effectiveness of a child sponsorship program in the slums of Jakarta.
Continue reading “Children’s Self-Portraits Show that Child Sponsorship Increases Hope”
Recent job seekers know that “soft skills”—traits related to personality, values, and personal interaction—can be important in receiving a job offer. These so-called noncognitive abilities are important parts of our personalities, and researchers are working to understand how they, as well as cognitive abilities, are formed in children. Continue reading “Thank Your Parents for Your Soft Skills”
Gender disparities in academic performance still persist, despite decades of efforts to close them. A new study finds middle school girls perform better on standardized tests when they have female teachers, while boys’ scores do not show any such impact. Continue reading “Female Teachers Provide an Academic Boost to Middle School Girls”
“First-born children have better thinking skills, study says” in The Guardian highlights JHR-published study that finds parenting behavior results in cognitive advantages for first-born children. Continue reading “First-Born Children *Are* Smarter”