Thursday, September 30, 2010

Three Research Links

Important School Info:

kindergarten test scores are highly correlated with outcomes such as earnings at age 27, college attendance, home ownership, and retirement savings. ...  the effects of kindergarten class quality fade out on test scores in later grades but gains in non-cognitive measures persist. We conclude that early childhood education has substantial long-term impacts, potentially through non-cognitive channels.

That was from a randomized assignment to classes.  When looking at things like this, it it is important to remember that 'statistically significant' does not necessarily mean 'life-changing'.  You need to dig up the magnitudes to get a feel for what the effect is.  Here are dollar details from the text of the paper:

Students randomly assigned to a class that is one standard deviation higher in quality score 6.27 percentile points higher on end-of-year tests and earn $483 (3.0%) more at age 27.

The difference between a really good class and a really bad class is going to be about four standard deviations, which implies that the kindergarten class your child is assigned to can make a difference of up to $2000 on average in yearly earnings at the start of their career.  That is actually pretty big, when you consider that this in the same school.  The effects from moving to a better school and a better neighborhood could be quite a bit bigger.

It really is kind of scary how much your life is affected by your teachers and peers at such an early age.  Parents are right to be paranoid about this kind of thing.  The habits and attitudes formed in childhood, mainly from exposure to other people, have a big impact on your future.

A randomly chosen subset of employees of the University of California was informed about a new website listing the pay of all University employees. All employees were then surveyed about their job satisfaction and job search intentions. ... workers with salaries below the median for their pay unit and occupation report lower pay and job satisfaction, while those earning above the median report no higher satisfaction. Likewise, below-median earners report a significant increase in the likelihood of looking for a new job, while above-median earners are unaffected.

This relates to my previous post about money attitudes.  The wording of the abstract implies that people are unhappier or worse off after learning salary information, but it may be that the information is better for them in the long run.  If they succeed in finding a new job or renegotiating salary, their life will be better.  This is clear evidence that employers gain when salary info is hidden.  Whether or not people deserve the low pay they are getting, they are happier and easier to control when kept ignorant.

And finally, research about Robot Dogs and Real Dogs that is not important at all:

Results were mixed, depending on a number of factors, including the age of the real dog and the social situation in which the interactions occurred. There were, however, very strong responses from dogs in scenarios in which they felt that the AIBO might be about to indulge in some cyber food-pilfering.

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