We explore whether early childhood human-capital investments are complementary to those made later in life. Using the Panel Study of Income Dynamics, we compare the adult outcomes of cohorts who were differentially exposed to policy-induced changes in pre-school (Head Start) spending and school-finance-reform-induced changes in public K12 school spending during childhood, depending on place and year of birth. Difference-in-difference instrumental variables and sibling-difference estimates indicate that, for poor children, increases in Head Start spending and increases in public K12 spending each individually increased educational attainment and earnings, and reduced the likelihood of both poverty and incarceration in adulthood. The benefits of Head Start spending were larger when followed by access to better-funded public K12 schools, and the increases in K12 spending were more efficacious for poor children who were exposed to higher levels of Head Start spending during their preschool years. The findings suggest that early investments in the skills of disadvantaged children that are followed by sustained educational investments over time can effectively break the cycle of poverty.
Reducing Inequality Through Dynamic Complementarity: Evidence from Head Start and Public School Spending by Rucker Johnson, C. Kirabo Jackson :: SSRNJune 24, 2017
The combined effect means that mortality rates of whites with no more than a high school degree, which were around 30 percent lower than mortality rates of blacks in 1999, grew to be 30 percent higher than blacks by 2015.
The Life-Cycle Benefits of an Influential Early Childhood Program by Jorge Luis García, James J. Heckman, Duncan Ermini Leaf, María José Prados :: SSRNMarch 6, 2017
This paper estimates the long-term benefits from an influential early childhood program targeting disadvantaged families. The program was evaluated by random assignment and followed participants through their mid-30s. It has substantial beneficial impacts on health, children’s future labor incomes, crime, education, and mothers’ labor in- comes, with greater monetized benefits for males. Lifetime returns are estimated by pooling multiple data sets using testable economic models. The overall rate of return is 13.7% per annum, and the benefit/cost ratio is 7.3. These estimates are robust to numerous sensitivity analyses.
We explore how households insure themselves against consumption volatility. We asked households how they would fund an unexpected emergency consumption expense equivalent to one month’s income. Answers reveal a range of consumption insurance mechanisms, including borrowing from credit markets and social networks. Despite this, more than one quarter of households have no plan to insure their consumption. The likelihood of non-insurance increases with poor financial literacy and is highest among households most at risk of experiencing a financial shock. Among these households we see large effects of poor financial literacy on non-insurance.
Do Minimum Wage Increases Influence Worker Health? by Brady P. Horn, Johanna Catherine Maclean, Michael R. Strain :: SSRNFebruary 5, 2017
This study investigates whether minimum wage increases in the United States affect an important non-market outcome: worker health. To study this question, we use data on lesser-skilled workers from the 1993-2014 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance Surveys coupled with differences-in-differences and triple-difference models. We find little evidence that minimum wage increases lead to improvements in overall worker health. In fact, we find some evidence that minimum wage increases may decrease some aspects of health, especially among unemployed male workers. We also find evidence that increases reduce mental strain among employed workers.
Environmental Amenities and Quality of Life Across the United States by Mona Ahmadiani, Susana Ferreira :: SSRNFebruary 3, 2017
This paper investigates the spatial variation in subjective well-being across the United States (U.S.). We match individual-level survey data from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) that includes a life satisfaction question, to county-level local amenities between 2005 and 2010. We show that subjective well-being varies widely across U.S. counties (even if these are in the same state and after controlling for individual characteristics), which suggests that housing price and wage differentials are not fully compensating for differences across locations. We also show that local amenities including climate, geography, environmental externalities, and other local public goods, explain a sizable fraction of this variation.
Do More of Those in Misery Suffer from Poverty, Unemployment or Mental Illness? by Sarah Flèche, Richard Layard :: SSRNFebruary 3, 2017
Studies of deprivation usually ignore mental illness. This paper uses household panel data from the USA, Australia, Britain and Germany to broaden the analysis. We ask first how many of those in the lowest levels of life‐satisfaction suffer from unemployment, poverty, physical ill health, and mental illness. The largest proportion suffers from mental illness. Multiple regression shows that mental illness is not highly correlated with poverty or unemployment, and that it contributes more to explaining the presence of misery than is explained by either poverty or unemployment. This holds both with and without fixed effects.