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.
Continue reading “School Smoking Bans Effectively Reduce Smoking Behavior”
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.
Continue reading “Political Mismanagement of Indian Primary Schools Yields Worse Test Scores”
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.
Continue reading “Early-Life Access to Food Stamps Has Long-Run Benefits for Children’s Health”
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.
Continue reading “Does Going to School with Immigrant Children Impair Learning?”
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.
Continue reading “Text-Messaging Parents Can Help Kids Learn to Read—Especially If the Curriculum Is Personalized and Differentiated”
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.”
Continue reading “Text-Messaging Program READY4K! Supports Early Literacy Development in the Home”
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.
Continue reading “When the Fire Goes Out, Children Face Lasting Effects: Evidence from the Indonesian Forest Fires”
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.
Continue reading “Having More Siblings Reduces Education Attainment, but Not by Much”
Compensatory education policies—policies aimed at offsetting educational inequalities between socially and academically disadvantaged children and more advantaged students—are widely used and represent a significant part of public education spending in many countries. In France, they correspond to about ten percent of the annual spending per pupil. They provide underprivileged schools with additional resources to compensate for social and academic disadvantages. In a new JHR paper, Laurent Davezies (CREST) and Manon Garrouste (University of Lille) propose some evidence to explain why these programs are often not working as intended.
Continue reading “Unintended Consequences—How Targeting Schools for Special Benefits in France Can Do More Harm Than Good”
For the past several decades, the U.S. government has invested heavily in anti-poverty programs, like the Earned Income Tax Credit and Head Start, aimed at closing the resource gap for disadvantaged children and improving their long-term outcomes. There is a vast literature studying the impacts of such programs, yet there is one potential source of disparity that has been largely overlooked: family planning.
Continue reading “Does Parents’ Access to Family Planning Increase Children’s Opportunities? Evidence from the War on Poverty and the Early Years of Title X”