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Investing in the Next Generation – Lessons from History for Economic Policy

Paper Session

Friday, Jan. 3, 2020 2:30 PM - 4:30 PM (PST)

Marriott Marquis, Grand Ballroom 1
Hosted By: American Economic Association
  • Chair: Francesco Cinnirella, University of Southern Denmark, CEPR and CESifo

Do Youth Employment Programs Work? Evidence from the New Deal

Adriana Lleras-Muney
,
University of California-Los Angeles
Anna Aizer
,
Brown University
Shari Eli
,
University of Toronto
Keyoung H. Lee
,
University of California-Los Angeles
Barbara A. Smith
,
Social Security Administration

Abstract

We investigate the short and long term effects of means-tested youth employment programs by studying the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC), which was the first and largest youth training program in United States history, and which modern job training programs, such as Job Corps and the Youth Conservation Corps, are modeled after. To study this question, we digitize administrative records from the CCC program in Colorado and New Mexico. We match these records to 1940 census data, WW2 enlistment records, Social Security Administration records and individual death certificates from various sources. The data allows us to investigate the effects of the program on many important outcomes over the participants’ lifetime: education, geographic mobility, employment, wages, marriage, disability, retirement and longevity. We find that individuals that trained longer in the CCC also lived longer as they attained improvements in health and had increased geographic mobility. We also find modest increases in educational attainment and the probability of serving in WWII. In the short run, we find no evidence that their labor force participation or employment increased—these effects are very small and statistically insignificant and are consistent with the previous findings from multiple RCTs.

The Making of Social Democracy: The Economic and Electoral Consequences of Norway’s 1935 School Reform

Kjell Salvanes
,
Norwegian School of Economics
Daron Acemoglu
,
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Tuomas Pekkarinen
,
VATT Institute for Economic Research
Matti Sarvimäki
,
Aalto University

Abstract

Social democratic governments have profoundly shaped the Nordic countries gradual reforms in education, health care, redistribution, social insurance, labor market institutions over the 20th century. As an early stage of the building of welfare state institutions before the WWII, the Social Democratic governments used human capital policies as a building block to enable further redistributive reforms and to foster support for the reform agenda. The research question we ask in this paper is how the primary school reform in 1936 - first major reform undertaken by the Social Demographic government in Norway after coming into power – affected the electoral support for the program and shaped the income distribution and equality of opportunity. The reform extended the number of hours taught in school and was rolled out over more than a decade. What made it possible to carry out these reforms? We find the reform strongly affected income and post-mandatory education and had spillover effect on the next generation including an increase in cognitive ability. Importantly, the reform also had strong electoral consequences by strongly increasing the social demographic vote share in the next generations in affected municipality.

The Intergenerational Effects of the Rosenwald Schools

Bhash Mazumder
,
Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago
Daniel Aaronson
,
Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago
Martha Stinson
,
U.S. Census Bureau

Abstract

We examine the intergenerational effects of the Rosenwald Schools. The Rosenwald schools represented a major improvement in school quality for African Americans living in the rural South during the 1920s. Previous research by Aaronson and Mazumder (2011) has shown that the schools led to increased educational attainment, improved literacy, higher test scores and increased migration to the North. In this paper we explore how the improvements affected the children of Rosenwald students. We exploit a unique Census dataset linking individuals from the complete count 1940 Census to the 2000 Long Form Census. Our preliminary estimates show large effects of parents' exposure to Rosenwald schools on their children's eventual educational attainment. These results show how a major educational intervention can have long-lasting effects that persist across generations. These findings also point to the potential for important spillovers to educational policies that current cost-benefit analyses ignore.

Froebel's Gifts: How the Kindergarten Movement Changed the American Family

Philipp Ager
,
University of Southern Denmark
Francesco Cinnirella
,
University of Southern Denmark

Abstract

American cities experienced a dramatic increase in kindergarten attendance at the turn of the 20th century. As in modern economies, kindergarten education at that time increased young children’s skills and facilitated their entry into primary school. Using newly-collected data on the roll-out of kindergartens across American cities between 1880 and 1910, we evaluate their impact on family outcomes. We find that kindergarten exposure significantly reduced fertility of married women. This fertility decline is more pronounced for poor and immigrant households. Kindergartens also increased the returns to education by increasing schooling and English proficiency of attendees relative to individuals who were just too old to attend when the first kindergarten in a city was established. We also show that families exposed to kindergartens faced a substantial increase in the direct costs of having children as kindergarten attendees were less likely to work during their childhood. The fertility decline due to increased returns to education and higher direct costs of having children is consistent with the predictions of a quantity-quality model of fertility. Finally, our results reveal spillover effects of potential kindergarten attendees on their mothers and older siblings.
Discussant(s)
Melissa Thomasson
,
Miami University
Katrine Loken
,
Norwegian School of Economics
Marianne Wanamaker
,
University of Tennessee
Douglas Almond
,
Columbia University
JEL Classifications
  • N3 - Labor and Consumers, Demography, Education, Health, Welfare, Income, Wealth, Religion, and Philanthropy
  • I0 - General