Poverty intervention: child stimulation and parent-child interactions
I’ve recently come across innovative interventions in different contexts to address poverty. The title of the first paper is quite descriptive Labor Market Returns to Early Childhood Stimulation: a 20-year Followup to an Experimental Intervention in Jamaica. Overall, the authors find large positive effects from experimental conditions. From the abstract:
We find large effects on the earnings of participants from a randomized intervention that gave psychosocial stimulation to stunted Jamaican toddlers living in poverty. The intervention consisted of one-hour weekly visits from community Jamaican health workers over a 2-year period that taught parenting skills and encouraged mothers to interact and play with their children in ways that would develop their children’s cognitive and personality skills. We re-interviewed the study participants 20 years after the intervention. Stimulation increased the average earnings of participants by 42 percent. Treatment group earnings caught up to the earnings of a matched non-stunted comparison group. These findings show that psychosocial stimulation early in childhood in disadvantaged settings can have substantial effects on labor market outcomes and reduce later life inequality.
And a second family-level intervention focusing on childhood stimulation recently won a $5 million dollar grant from Bloomberg Philanthropies. The excellent Emily Badger reported it here Can We Disrupt Poverty by Changing How Poor Parents Talk to Their Kids?
Apparently the idea proposes a way to measure the quality and quantity of parent-child interaction. From the article:
The device, a 2-ounce specialized recorder about the size of a deck of cards, maps the intensity of communication between parents and children. The infants and toddlers in Providence Talks will wear it twice a month, tucked into a custom-made vest, for 12 to 16 hours at a time. The recorder then plugs into a computer, where software automatically converts the audio files into charts that can be used by Meeting Street to coach the parents on how and when they might speak to their children more often.