Labor Market Returns to Early Childhood Stimulation: A 20-Year Followup to an Experimental Intervention in Jamaica

62 Pages Posted: 11 Jul 2013

See all articles by Paul J. Gertler

Paul J. Gertler

University of California, Berkeley - Haas School of Business; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

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

Arianna Zanolini

University of Chicago - Harris Public Policy

Christel Vermeersch

World Bank

Susan Walker

University of the West Indies (Mona)

Susan Chang

University of the West Indies (Mona)

Sally Grantham-McGregor

University College London

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: June 2013

Abstract

We find large effects on the earnings of participants from a randomized intervention that gave psychosocial stimulation to stunted Jamaican toddlers living in poverty. The intervention consisted of one-hour weekly visits from community Jamaican health workers over a 2-year period that taught parenting skills and encouraged mothers to interact and play with their children in ways that would develop their children's cognitive and personality skills. We re-interviewed the study participants 20 years after the intervention. Stimulation increased the average earnings of participants by 42 percent. Treatment group earnings caught up to the earnings of a matched non-stunted comparison group. These findings show that psychosocial stimulation early in childhood in disadvantaged settings can have substantial effects on labor market outcomes and reduce later life inequality.

Suggested Citation

Gertler, Paul J. and Heckman, James J. and Pinto, Rodrigo R. and Zanolini, Arianna and Vermeersch, Christel and Walker, Susan and Chang, Susan and Grantham-McGregor, Sally, Labor Market Returns to Early Childhood Stimulation: A 20-Year Followup to an Experimental Intervention in Jamaica (June 2013). NBER Working Paper No. w19185. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2292344

Paul J. Gertler (Contact Author)

University of California, Berkeley - Haas School of Business ( email )

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National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

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James J. Heckman

University of Chicago - Department of Economics ( email )

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Chicago, IL 60637
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773-702-0634 (Phone)
773-702-8490 (Fax)

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

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American Bar Foundation

750 N. Lake Shore Drive
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United States

Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA)

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

CESifo (Center for Economic Studies and Ifo Institute)

Poschinger Str. 5
Munich, DE-81679
Germany

Rodrigo R. Pinto

University of Chicago - Department of Economics ( email )

1126 East 59th Street
Chicago, IL 60637
United States

Arianna Zanolini

University of Chicago - Harris Public Policy ( email )

1155 East 60th Street
Chicago, IL 60637
United States

Christel Vermeersch

World Bank ( email )

Susan Walker

University of the West Indies (Mona) ( email )

Kingston
Kingston 7
Mona, Mona Kingston 7
Jamaica

Susan Chang

University of the West Indies (Mona) ( email )

Kingston
Kingston 7
Mona, Mona Kingston 7
Jamaica

Sally Grantham-McGregor

University College London ( email )

Gower Street
London, WC1E 6BT
United Kingdom

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