Understanding the Mechanisms Through Which an Influential Early Childhood Program Boosted Adult Outcomes

50 Pages Posted: 15 Dec 2012

See all articles by James J. Heckman

James J. Heckman

University of Chicago - Department of Economics; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER); American Bar Foundation; Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA); CESifo (Center for Economic Studies and Ifo Institute)

Rodrigo R. Pinto

University of Chicago - Department of Economics

Peter A. Savelyev

College of William and Mary - Department of Economics

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Abstract

A growing literature establishes that high quality early childhood interventions targeted toward disadvantaged children have substantial impacts on later life outcomes. Little is known about the mechanisms producing these impacts. This paper uses longitudinal data on cognitive and personality traits from an experimental evaluation of the influential Perry Preschool program to analyze the channels through which the program boosted both male and female participant outcomes. Experimentally induced changes in personality traits explain a sizable portion of adult treatment effects.

Keywords: cognitive traits, personality traits, externalizing behavior, academic motivation, factor analysis, human capital, human development, early childhood interventions, social experiments, Perry Preschool program, experimentally estimated production functions

JEL Classification: I21, I28, I29, J13, J15, J16, J24, O15

Suggested Citation

Heckman, James J. and Pinto, Rodrigo R. and Savelyev, Peter A., Understanding the Mechanisms Through Which an Influential Early Childhood Program Boosted Adult Outcomes. IZA Discussion Paper No. 7040. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2189778

James J. Heckman (Contact Author)

University of Chicago - Department of Economics ( email )

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National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

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American Bar Foundation

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Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA)

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CESifo (Center for Economic Studies and Ifo Institute)

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Rodrigo R. Pinto

University of Chicago - Department of Economics ( email )

1126 East 59th Street
Chicago, IL 60637
United States

Peter A. Savelyev

College of William and Mary - Department of Economics ( email )

Williamsburg, VA 23187-8795
United States
7573788654 (Phone)

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