Monday, December 5, 2016

The Effect of Early Education on Social Preferences

This paper presents results from the first study to examine the causal impact of early childhood education on social preferences of children. The authors compare children who, at 3-4 years old, were randomized into either a full-time preschool, a parenting program with incentives, or to a control group. The authors  conducted a series of incentivized experiments with the same children when they reached 7-8 years old to elicit their social preferences.

The study finds that early childhood education has a strong causal impact on social preferences several years after the intervention: attending preschool makes children more egalitarian in their fairness view and the parenting program enhances the importance children place on efficiency relative to fairness.

The findings highlight the importance of taking a broad perspective when designing and evaluating early childhood educational programs, and provide evidence of how differences in institutional exposure may contribute to explaining heterogeneity in social preferences in society.

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