Text

Physicist, Startup Founder, Blogger, Dad

Friday, April 25, 2014

Early intervention and long term outcomes

I wish I had made more of an effort to talk to James Heckman about his main research interests during the conference last week. My understanding is that while Heckman admits that cognitive ability is hard to change through early intervention, he believes that important "non-cognitive skills" (e.g., conscientiousness, rule-following, long term planning, etc.) can be inculcated. It would have been enlightening to hear more from the horse's mouth! Unfortunately for me he seemed to always be in conversation with other participants.
Brookings: ... Not one of the studies that has suggested long-term positive impacts of center-based early childhood programs has been based on a well-implemented and appropriately analyzed randomized trial, and nearly all have serious limitations in external validity. In contrast, the only two studies in the list with both high internal and external validity (Head Start Impact and Tennessee) find null or negative impacts, and all of the studies that point to very small, null, or negative effects have high external validity. In general, a finding of meaningful long-term outcomes of an early childhood intervention is more likely when the program is old, or small, or a multi-year intervention, and evaluated with something other than a well-implemented RCT. In contrast, as the program being evaluated becomes closer to universal pre-k for four-year-olds and the evaluation design is an RCT, the outcomes beyond the pre-k year diminish to nothing.

I conclude that the best available evidence raises serious doubts that a large public investment in the expansion of pre-k for four-year-olds will have the long-term effects that advocates tout.

This doesn’t mean that we ought not to spend public money to help families with limited financial resources access good childcare for their young children. After all, we spend tax dollars on national parks, symphony orchestras, and Amtrak because they make the lives of those who use them better today. Why not childcare?

It does mean that we need public debate that recognizes the mixed nature of the research findings rather than a rush to judgment based on one-sided and misleading appeals to the preponderance of the evidence.

14 comments:

Peter Connor said...

"This doesn’t mean that we ought not to spend public money to help families with limited financial resources access good childcare for their young children. After all, we spend tax dollars on national parks, symphony orchestras, and Amtrak because they make the lives of those who use them better today. Why not childcare? "

You can't be serious. Apart from the basic principle that people who have children should provide their own childcare, and will do the best job of it, spending money on ineffective (or worse) programs is crazy--it makes the nation poorer. Mal-investment in Amtrak hardly makes an argument for mal-investment in other areas. And this in a country whose government(s) are drowning in debt.

212to310 said...

What these studies actually show is that intervention works as long as it lasts. Claiming they don't work is like claiming diets don't work or exercise doesn't work. It's a great pity this clear evidence for the malleability of IQ isn't known more widely.

James Hedman said...

When you realize that fully half the Negro population in the United States have IQ's at or below 85 then the problem comes in to sharp acuity. Rather than waste money on pre-school programs we should be offering welfare mothers with low IQ pre pubescent children $250,000 (or even more) cash bounties for each child they have to be permanently sterilized. It would certainly save huge amounts in welfare and prison costs over the long haul. We could even set up annuities for the kids as God knows they aren't going to be able to do much useful work other than sweeping floors and even those jobs will be soon be automated out of existence.


Conversely we should offer cash bonuses for intelligent women to eschew careers and have babies while they are still in their twenties. They are the ones who should have subsidized childcare from nannies to governesses so that they can continue their educations while their children are still young and they would be ready for productive jobs in their 30's should they choose to pursue a career of some sort at that point.


Unfortunately we have actually been going in the wrong direction. Our tax code has gotten worse in this regard. The dollar amount of the dependent child income tax deduction for each kid that was in effect during the late 1940's and early 50's would be well in excess of $10,000 nowadays if it had been indexed to the real inflation rate.


A sliding scale of cash benefits based on IQ and inherited infirmities needs to be set up for all of this. And of course none of this would work with our current open borders. Every Oaxacan Indian and Haitian would arrive in a flood if we hand out cash for sterilization. Likewise we wouldn't want to be flooded with poor but smart Han Chinese peasants or worse yet South Asians if we were offering free nanny care to the world. This country is way overcrowded as it is.

ihatechinks said...

When you realize that fully half the Negro population in the United
States have IQ's at or below 85 then the problem comes in to sharp
acuity.

ihatechinks said...

What these studies actually show is that interventions work as long as they last. Claiming they don't work is like claiming diets don't work, or exercise doesn't work. It's a great pity this clear evidence for the malleability of IQ isn't known more widely.

But people with power simply refuse to face the problem of poor people having children. With the neolithic revolution and then the industrial revolution people depend on other people from different tribes and classes more than ever, but people are still tribal.

James Hedman said...

Thanks for the grammar tip! :-)

stevesailer said...

Heckman's goal of getting ghetto children away from their families and into the hands of professional educators for most of their waking hours is quite similar to that of the Australian reformers in the 1920s and 1930s who sent half-Aboriginal children to boarding schools to get them away from their alcoholic, abusive, and tubercular families and give them a culture better suited to the modern world. Today, of course, those reformers are constantly denounced as the Worst People Ever, but it would be interesting to see some data on how the Aboriginal children at the boarding schools turned out, especially relative to how subsequent generations have done.

ihatechinks said...

Oddly enough I'm 100% Mexican from the state of Oaxaca.

Stay classy San Diego.

5371 said...

Then you have to do something to discourage female employment, and raise male wages.

Peter Connor said...

No, people have successfully raised their own kids for hundreds of thousands of years without expensive government programs. But if you want to raise wages, eliminating illegal immigration would help.

ireallyhatechinks said...

American vs Brit.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AeGKcX-JHNE
And American chinks are the pushy striving obedient subhumans who believe in America the most.

ireallyhatechinks said...

Typical Irish drunk.

godihatechinks said...

Dr. Farber, in her original and synthesizing role, has turned this
confusion into an advantage. She devised a mathematical index with which
she could measure the degree of separateness and used this information
to correct the correlations found between the I.Q. test scores of twins
reared separately. So corrected, the calculated correlation between
twins' I.Q. scores fell from a modest degree of within-pair similarity
(accounting for about one-half of the variance) to a much lower degree
of similarity (accounting for one-fifth of the variance). In other
words, on the average, the more separately the twins were reared, the
greater the difference between their I.Q. scores.


uhhhhhhhh. drrrrrrrrrrrrrrr.

James Hedman said...

Raise the income tax child dependent deduction to its inflation adjusted level of the 1940's and 50's would be a good start. Paying cash bonuses and annuities for voluntary sterilization for low IQ welfare mothers and manily their offspring would be another.

Blog Archive

Labels