James Heckman, Ganesh Karapakula, 23 August 2019

The Perry Preschool Project was a social experiment implemented in the US in the 1960s. The oldest early childhood intervention trial with long-term follow-up, it saw five cohorts of African American children from low-income families in Ypsilanti, Michigan, randomly assigned to attend free, high-quality pre-school. This column shows some of the lasting benefits, particularly for males, of an early childhood education programme targeted at disadvantaged children – from reduced crime to improved executive functioning, socioemotional skills, earnings, and health. It also documents the intergenerational benefits of the intervention on the children of the original participants. The conclusions are supported by statistically conservative small-sample tests.

Philipp Ager, Leah Boustan, Katherine Eriksson, 01 June 2019

One striking feature of many underdeveloped societies is that economic power is concentrated in the hands of very small powerful elites. This column explores why some elites show remarkable persistence, even after major economic disruptions, using the American Civil War’s effect on the Southern states. Analysis of census data shows that when the abolition of slavery threatened their economic status, Southern elites invested in their social networks, which helped them to recoup their losses fairly quickly.

Richard Akresh, Daniel Halim, Marieke Kleemans, 18 May 2019

Does investment in schools promote higher educational attainment—and do the effects improve students’ later lives and those of the next generation? This column examines the impact of over 61,000 primary schools built by the Indonesian government between 1973 and 1979, almost doubling the number in the country. The evidence shows that the men and women who accessed education provided by the construction programme benefited from significant improvements in their educational and later life outcomes. So too did their children.

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