Child-care support, early childhood education, and schooling

  • Do youth mentoring programs change the perspectives and improve the life opportunities of at-risk youth?

    While most effects are positive, they tend to be modest and fade over time—in addition, some mentoring programs can backfire

    Mentoring programs such as Big Brothers Big Sisters of America have been providing positive role models and building social skills for more than a century. However, most formal mentoring programs are relatively novel and researchers have only recently begun to rigorously evaluate their impact on changing at-risk youth’s perspectives and providing opportunities for them to achieve better life outcomes. While a variety of mentoring and counseling programs have emerged around the world in recent years, knowledge of their effectiveness remains incomplete.
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  • Teenage childbearing and labor market implications for women

    Teenage childbearing is less a cause of inferior labor market outcomes for women than a marker of other social problems in a girl’s life

    Phillip B. Levine, July 2014
    It is not difficult to find statistics showing that 
teenage childbearing is associated with poor labor market outcomes, but why is this the case? Does having a child as a teenager genuinely affect a 
woman’s economic potential—or is it simply a marker of problems she might already be facing as a result of her social and family background? The answer 
to this question has important implications for 
policy measures that could be taken to improve women’s lives.
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  • Childcare subsidy policy: What it can and cannot accomplish

    What are the implications of childcare subsidies for care quality, family well-being, and child development?

    Erdal Tekin, July 2014
    Most public expenditure on childcare in the US 
is made through a federal program, the Child Care and Development Fund (CCDF), established as 
part of landmark welfare reform legislation in 1996. The main goal of the reform was to increase employment and reduce welfare dependence among low-income families. Childcare subsidies have been effective in enabling parents to work, but apparently at some cost to the well-being of parents and children.
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  • Does minimum age of employment regulation reduce child labor?

    The global fight against child labor might be better served by focusing less on existing laws and more on implementation and enforcement

    Eric V. Edmonds, July 2014
    Regulation of the minimum age of employment is the dominant tool used to combat child labor globally. If enforced, these regulations can change the types of work in which children participate, but minimum age regulations are not a useful tool to promote education. Despite their nearly universal adoption, recent research for 59 developing countries finds little evidence that these regulations influence child time allocation in a meaningful way. Going forward, coordinating compulsory schooling laws and minimum age of employment regulations may help maximize the joint influence of these regulations on child time allocation, but these regulations should not be the focus of the global fight against child labor.
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  • Measuring the cost of children

    Knowing the real cost of children is important for crafting better
 economic policy

    Olivier Donni, March 2015
    The cost of children is a critical parameter used in determining many economic policies. For instance, correctly setting the tax deduction for families with children requires assessing the true household cost of children. Evaluating child poverty at the individual level requires making a clear distinction between the share of family resources received by children and that received by parents. The standard ad hoc measures (equivalence scales) used in official publications to measure the cost of children are arbitrary and are not informed by any economic theory. However, economists have developed methods that are grounded in economic theory and can replace ad hoc measures.
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  • Childcare choices and child development

    Generous parental leave and affordable, high-quality childcare can foster children’s abilities

    Daniela Del Boca, March 2015
    The economic and psychological literatures have demonstrated that early investments (private and public) in children can significantly increase cognitive outcomes in the short and long term and contribute to success later in life. One of the most important of these inputs is maternal time. Women’s participation in the labor market has risen rapidly in most countries, implying that mothers spend less time with their children and that families rely more on external sources of childcare. This trend has raised concerns, and an intense debate in several countries has focused on the effectiveness of childcare policies.
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  • The impacts of shortening secondary school duration

    Shortening secondary school duration may increase the skilled workforce in aging societies

    Stephan L. Thomsen, July 2015
    The main goal of secondary school education in developed countries is to prepare students for higher education and the labor market. That demands high investments in study duration and specialized fields to meet rising skill requirements. However, these demands for more education are in opposition to calls for early entry to the labor market, to lengthen working lives to meet the rising costs associated with an aging population and to enable the intergenerational transfer of skills. One way to lengthen working lives is to shorten the duration of secondary school, an option recently implemented in Canada and Germany. The empirical evidence shows mixed effects.
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  • The educational effects of school start times

    Delaying secondary school start times can be a cost-effective policy to improve students’ grades and test scores

    Teny Maghakian Shapiro, August 2015
    The combination of changing sleep patterns in adolescence and early school start times leaves secondary school classrooms filled with sleep-deprived students. Evidence is growing that having adolescents start school later in the morning improves grades and emotional well-being, and even reduces car accidents. Opponents cite costly adjustments to bussing schedules and decreased time after school for jobs, sports, or other activities as reasons to retain the status quo. While changing school start times is not a costless policy, it is one of the easiest to implement and least expensive ways of improving academic achievement.
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  • Class size: Does it matter for student achievement?

    Smaller classes are often associated with increased achievement, but the evidence is far from universal

    Christopher Jepsen, September 2015
    Numerous economic studies have considered the relationship between class size and student achievement, the majority of which have focused on elementary schools in the US and Europe. While the general finding is that smaller classes are associated with increased student achievement, a few high-quality studies find no relationship. Further, empirical research on the costs and benefits of smaller classes concludes that other education policies, such as tutoring, early childhood programs, or improving teacher quality would be better investments.
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  • Immigrants in the classroom and effects on native children

    Having immigrant children in the classroom may sometimes, but not always, harm educational outcomes of native children

    Peter Jensen, October 2015
    Many countries are experiencing increasing inflows of immigrant students. This raises concerns that having a large share of students for whom the host country language is not their first language may have detrimental effects on the educational outcomes of native children. However, the evidence is mixed, with some studies finding negative effects, and others finding no effects. Whether higher concentrations of immigrant students have an effect on native students differs across countries according to factors such as organization of the school system and immigrants’ socio-economic background.
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