Redshirting Kids—Delaying Starting School Affects the Entire Family

Graph showing parents' marriage increases and mom working increases and then decreases when kids start school later

Parents often think about their child’s future success when they consider waiting for them to start school, but a child’s age and grade level also affect how much time parents spend on child-related activities, work, and leisure. In a recent study Rasmus Landersø (Rockwool Foundation Research Unit), Helena Skyt Nielsen (Aarhus University), and Marianne Simonsen (Aarhus University) find that postponing children’s school start frees resources and allows parents to use more time on activities unrelated to the child, with effects on the family that extend beyond the early childhood years.
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Partial Schooling Subsidy Puts Kids into the Classroom—And to Work

Evidence suggests that government subsidies typically increase school attendance and at the same time decrease paid work by children. The intuition is simple enough—children who were not able to afford schooling can now go to school, and because there are only so many hours in the day, they also do less paid work. While such subsidies typically offset all schooling costs, Jacobus de Hoop, Jed Friedman, Eeshani Kandpal, and Furio Rosati asked whether a partial subsidy could increase schooling. They study the Pantawid program, which aims to improve children’s health and education in poor households (those with daily income less than US$2.15 per capita) in the Philippines.
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School Smoking Bans Effectively Reduce Smoking Behavior

lit cigarette

Half of all smokers in Germany report that they started using tobacco at the age of 15 or younger, which makes teenagers one of the most important target groups for anti-smoking campaigns and policies. During the last decade, all 16 German federal states have introduced smoking bans at schools. But do they work? According to researchers Gregor Pfeifer, Mirjam Reutter, and Kristina Strohmaier, we know little about the real effectiveness of anti-smoking interventions specifically aimed at school children, so they studied a large data set to compare populations who had experienced smoking bans with those who had not.
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Political Mismanagement of Indian Primary Schools Yields Worse Test Scores

graph of 4th grade reading scores in public vs. private schools 2 years before through two years after an election, showing elections are followed by drop in scores

Teachers and their working patterns are known to be important determinants of learning outcomes of pupils, as well as key to understanding the large gaps in skills across different school systems. Sonja Fagernäs and Panu Pelkonen examined how the management of teachers in Indian primary schools, when intermingled with political processes, can disrupt teachers’ work and eventually harm learning.
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Early-Life Access to Food Stamps Has Long-Run Benefits for Children’s Health

Access to food stamps reduces poor health

In the United States, 25 percent of all children and nearly 15 percent of the total population received food stamp benefits in 2011. The program is hotly debated among politicians—there have been several cuts to the program in recent years, and more cuts are currently proposed, including cuts specifically targeted at documented immigrants.

Despite its importance and uncertain future, there is very little evidence on the effect of the Food Stamp program on its beneficiaries. In a new JHR paper, Chloe N. East investigates the effects of restrictions on immigrants’ access to Food Stamps.
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Does Going to School with Immigrant Children Impair Learning?

elementary school girls

As immigration continues to dominate political debates, a growing number of policymakers and citizens are concerned that the presence of immigrant children in schools may harm native children’s learning outcomes. Existing evidence on this question, however, is quite mixed. Laurent Bossavie (World Bank) aims to contribute to the discussion with a new study on learning outcomes of children who share schools with immigrants.
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Text-Messaging Parents Can Help Kids Learn to Read—Especially If the Curriculum Is Personalized and Differentiated

Reading growth with text-messaging

Educational interventions based on behavioral economics principles have shown promise for combatting some of the persistent disparities in education outcomes. Researchers have studied text-messaging “nudges” and found them to be successful at all levels of education, from pre-K to the transition to college.

With this in mind, Christopher Doss, Erin M. Fahle, Susanna Loeb, and Benjamin York dug deeper to look at how personalizing text messages to the recipient could make a difference. Their work aims to identify the importance of personalization and differentiation within a text-messaging program designed to help parents of kindergarteners support the literacy development of their children at home.
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Text-Messaging Program READY4K! Supports Early Literacy Development in the Home

Sample Ready4K texts

Racial and socioeconomic gaps in academic achievement begin early in life, with large gaps in skills present by the time children enter kindergarten. One factor contributing to this educational inequality is the great variation in home learning experiences.

Researchers and practitioners have taken a variety of approaches to help parents support the literacy development of their children. Examples include interventions during doctors’ visits or hosting workshops for parents at schools. Unfortunately, these traditional approaches are hampered by their relative infrequency and/or substantial demands on parents’ time.

Benjamin York, Susanna Loeb, and Christopher Doss wondered whether something as common as a text message could improve the home learning experience. “In this study, we field a randomized control trial to test the efficacy of a text messaging intervention that leverages lessons from behavioral economics on overcoming barriers to adult behavior change.”
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When the Fire Goes Out, Children Face Lasting Effects: Evidence from the Indonesian Forest Fires

pregnant woman

Recent devastating wildfires have drawn attention to how climate change is expected to make weather phenomena more unpredictable and wildfires more frequent and difficult to control. Little is known about how the accompanying air pollution affects long-term outcomes in children, who are especially vulnerable to its effects.

Maria Rosales-Rueda and Margaret Triyana analyzed the impacts of early-life exposure to the 1997 Indonesian forest fires on children’s long-term health outcomes in Indonesia. These fires were among the most intense fires in Indonesia’s history, emitting levels of particulate matter similar to the hazardous haze from agricultural burning or chronic exposure to indoor air pollution generated by the use of biomass fuels.
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Having More Siblings Reduces Education Attainment, but Not by Much

Two trends are often observed as a country develops: a decline in family size and a rise in education attainment. Are they related? In particular, could the fall in family size be one reason for the increase in education levels? Hui Ren Tan (Boston University) considered this question within the context of the 19th and early 20th century United States.
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