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HANDBOOK OF LABOR ECONOMICS, VOL 4B by David Card, Orley Ashenfelter

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Chapter 15

Human capital development before age five*

Janet Currie and Douglas Almond, Columbia University, jc2663@columbia.edu

Abstract

This chapter seeks to set out what economists have learned about the effects of early childhood influences on later life outcomes, and about ameliorating the effects of negative influences. We begin with a brief overview of the theory which illustrates that evidence of a causal relationship between a shock in early childhood and a future outcome says little about whether the relationship in question is biological or immutable. We then survey recent work which shows that events before five years old can have large long term impacts on adult outcomes. Child and family characteristics measured at school entry do ...

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