Sixty Years after the Magic Carpet Ride: The Long-Run Effect of the Early Childhood Environment on Social and Economic Outcomes

58 Pages Posted: 20 Apr 2009 Last revised: 4 Sep 2010

See all articles by Eric D. Gould

Eric D. Gould

Hebrew University of Jerusalem - Department of Economics; Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR); IZA Institute of Labor Economics

Victor Lavy

University of Warwick - Department of Economics; Hebrew University of Jerusalem - Department of Economics; Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR); National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Daniele Paserman

Boston University - Department of Economics; Hebrew University of Jerusalem; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER); IZA Institute of Labor Economics

Date Written: April 2009

Abstract

This paper estimates the effect of the childhood environment on a large array of social and economic outcomes lasting almost 60 years, for both the affected cohorts and for their children. To do this, we exploit a natural experiment provided by the 1949 Magic Carpet operation, where over 50,000 Yemenite immigrants were airlifted to Israel. The Yemenites, who lacked any formal schooling or knowledge of a western-style culture or bureaucracy, believed that they were being "redeemed," and put their trust in the Israeli authorities to make decisions about where they should go and what they should do. As a result, they were scattered across the country in essentially a random fashion, and as we show, the environmental conditions faced by immigrant children were not correlated with other factors that affected the long-term outcomes of individuals. We construct three summary measures of the childhood environment: 1) whether the home had running water, sanitation and electricity; 2) whether the locality of residence was in an urban environment with a good economic infrastructure; and 3) whether the locality of residence was a Yemenite enclave. We find that children who were placed in a better environment (i.e. with better sanitary and infrastructure conditions) were more likely to obtain higher education, marry at an older age, have fewer children, and work at age 55. They were also more likely to be assimilated into Israeli society, to be less religious, and have more worldly tastes in music and food. The estimated effects are much more pronounced for women than for men. We find weaker and somewhat mixed effects on health outcomes, and no effect on political views. We do find an effect on the next generation - children who lived in a better environment grew up to have children who achieved higher educational attainment.

Suggested Citation

Gould, Eric D. and Lavy, Victor and Paserman, Daniele, Sixty Years after the Magic Carpet Ride: The Long-Run Effect of the Early Childhood Environment on Social and Economic Outcomes (April 2009). NBER Working Paper No. w14884. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1391831

Eric D. Gould

Hebrew University of Jerusalem - Department of Economics ( email )

Mount Scopus
Jerusalem, 91905
Israel
+972 2 588 3247 (Phone)
+972 2 581 6071 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: https://sites.google.com/site/edgould

Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

London
United Kingdom

IZA Institute of Labor Economics

P.O. Box 7240
Bonn, D-53072
Germany

Victor Lavy (Contact Author)

University of Warwick - Department of Economics ( email )

Coventry CV4 7AL
United Kingdom

Hebrew University of Jerusalem - Department of Economics ( email )

Mount Scopus
Jerusalem, 91905
Israel
+972 2 588 3245 (Phone)
+972 2 581 6071 (Fax)

Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

London
United Kingdom

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Daniele Paserman

Boston University - Department of Economics ( email )

270 Bay State Road
Boston, MA 02215
United States

Hebrew University of Jerusalem

Mount Scopus
Jerusalem, IL Jerusalem 91905
Israel

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

IZA Institute of Labor Economics

P.O. Box 7240
Bonn, D-53072
Germany

Register to save articles to
your library

Register

Paper statistics

Downloads
36
Abstract Views
641
PlumX Metrics