The Social Side of Early Human Capital Formation: Using a Field Experiment to Estimate the Causal Impact of Neighborhoods

61 Pages Posted: 5 Jan 2021

See all articles by John A. List

John A. List

University of Chicago - Department of Economics

Fatemeh Momeni

University of Chicago

Yves Zenou

Monash University - Department of Economics; Research Institute of Industrial Economics (IUI); IZA Institute of Labor Economics; Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR); Stockholm University

Multiple version iconThere are 3 versions of this paper

Date Written: December 28, 2020

Abstract

The behavioral revolution within economics has been largely driven by psychological insights, with the sister sciences playing a lesser role. This study leverages insights from sociology to explore the role of neighborhoods on human capital formation at an early age. We do so by estimating the spillover effects from a large-scale early childhood intervention on the educational attainment of over 2,000 disadvantaged children in the United States. We document large spillover effects on both treatment and control children who live near treated children. Interestingly, the spillover effects are localized, decreasing with the spatial distance to treated neighbors. Perhaps our most novel insight is the underlying mechanisms at work: the spillover effect on non-cognitive scores operate through the child's social network while parental investment is an important channel through which cognitive spillover effects operate. Overall, our results reveal the importance of public programs and neighborhoods on human capital formation at an early age, highlighting that human capital accumulation is fundamentally a social activity.

JEL Classification: C93,I21,I24,I26,I28,R1

Suggested Citation

List, John A. and Momeni, Fatemeh and Zenou, Yves, The Social Side of Early Human Capital Formation: Using a Field Experiment to Estimate the Causal Impact of Neighborhoods (December 28, 2020). University of Chicago, Becker Friedman Institute for Economics Working Paper No. 2020-187, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3760076 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3760076

John A. List (Contact Author)

University of Chicago - Department of Economics ( email )

1126 East 59th Street
Chicago, IL 60637
United States

Fatemeh Momeni

University of Chicago ( email )

1101 East 58th Street
Chicago, IL 60637
United States

Yves Zenou

Monash University - Department of Economics ( email )

Australia

Research Institute of Industrial Economics (IUI) ( email )

P.O. Box 5501
S-114 85 Stockholm
Sweden

IZA Institute of Labor Economics

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

Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

London
United Kingdom

Stockholm University ( email )

Universitetsvägen 10
Stockholm, Stockholm SE-106 91
Sweden

Do you have a job opening that you would like to promote on SSRN?

Paper statistics

Downloads
66
Abstract Views
610
Rank
475,404
PlumX Metrics