DP14006 Social origins, shared book reading and language skills in early childhood: evidence from an information experiment

Author(s): CARLO BARONE, Denis Fougère, CLEMENT PIN
Publication Date: September 2019
Keyword(s): Early Childhood, field experiment, Language Skills, parental reading
JEL(s): C93, I21, I24, J13
Programme Areas: Labour Economics
Link to this Page: cepr.org/active/publications/discussion_papers/dp.php?dpno=14006

Shared book reading between parents and children is often regarded as a significant mediator of social inequalities in early skill development processes. We argue that socially biased gaps between parents in access to information about the benefits of this activity for school success contribute to inequalities between children in access to this activity and in their language development. We test this hypothesis with a large-scale field experiment assessing the causal impact of an information intervention targeting parents of pre-schoolers on both the frequency of shared book reading and the receptive vocabulary of children. Results indicate that low-educated parents are more reactive to this information intervention, with significant effects on the language development of their children. We conclude that information barriers on the potential of informal learning activities at home contribute to social inequalities in early childhood, and that removing these barriers is a cost-effective way to reduce these inequalities.