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American Economic Review: Vol. 103 No. 6 (October 2013)

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

Article Citation

Heckman, James, Rodrigo Pinto, and Peter Savelyev. 2013. "Understanding the Mechanisms through Which an Influential Early Childhood Program Boosted Adult Outcomes." American Economic Review, 103(6): 2052-86.

DOI: 10.1257/aer.103.6.2052

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 skills 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 skills explain a sizable portion of adult treatment effects.

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Authors

Heckman, James (U Chicago and U College Dublin)
Pinto, Rodrigo (U Chicago)
Savelyev, Peter (Vanderbilt U and Robert Wood Johnson Center for Health Policy, Meharry Medical College)

JEL Classifications

I21: Analysis of Education
I24: Education and Inequality
I28: Education: Government Policy
J13: Fertility; Family Planning; Child Care; Children; Youth
J24: Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity


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