An Analysis of the Memphis Nurse-Family Partnership Program

51 Pages Posted: 25 Jul 2017

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)

Margaret Holland

Yale University - School of Medicine

Kevin K Makino

University of Hawaii

Rodrigo R. Pinto

University of Chicago - Department of Economics

Maria Rosales-Rueda

University of California, Irvine

Date Written: July 2017

Abstract

This paper evaluates a randomized controlled trial of the Nurse-Family Partnership (NFP) program conducted in Memphis, TN in 1990. NFP offers home visits conducted by nurses for disadvantaged first-time mothers during pregnancy and early childhood. We test NFP treatment effects using permutation-based inference that accounts for the NFP randomization protocol. Our methodology is valid for small samples and corrects for multiple-hypothesis testing. We also analyze the underlying mechanisms generating these treatment effects. We decompose NFP treatment effects into components associated with the intervention-enhanced parenting and early childhood skills. The NFP improves home investments, parenting attitudes and mental health for mothers of infants at age 2. At age 6, the NFP boosts cognitive skills for both genders and socio-emotional skills for females. These treatment effects are explained by program-induced improvements in maternal traits and early-life family investments. At age 12, the treatment effects for males (but not for females) persist in the form of enhanced achievement test scores. Treatment effects are largely explained by enhanced cognitive skills at age 6. Our evidence of pronounced gender differences in response to early childhood interventions contributes to a growing literature on this topic.

Suggested Citation

Heckman, James J. and Holland, Margaret and Makino, Kevin K and Pinto, Rodrigo R. and Rosales-Rueda, Maria, An Analysis of the Memphis Nurse-Family Partnership Program (July 2017). NBER Working Paper No. w23610. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3007482

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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Margaret Holland

Yale University - School of Medicine ( email )

333 Cedar Street
New Haven, CT 06520-8034
United States

Kevin K Makino

University of Hawaii ( email )

Honolulu, HI 96822
United States

Rodrigo R. Pinto

University of Chicago - Department of Economics ( email )

1126 East 59th Street
Chicago, IL 60637
United States

Maria Rosales-Rueda

University of California, Irvine ( email )

P.O. Box 19556
Science Library Serials
Irvine, CA 62697-3125
United States

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