Author(s)  
Orla Doyle

Using a randomized experiment, this study investigates the impact of sustained investment in parenting, from pregnancy until age five, in the context of extensive welfare provision. Providing the Preparing for Life program, incorporating home visiting, group parenting, and baby massage, to disadvantaged Irish families raises children’s cognitive and socio-emotional/behavioral scores by two-thirds and one-quarter of a standard deviation respectively by school entry. There are few differential effects by gender and stronger gains for firstborns. The results also suggest that socioeconomic gaps in children’s skills are narrowed. Analyses account for small sample size, differential attrition, multiple testing, contamination, and performance bias. 

JEL Codes  
C93: Field Experiments
D13: Household Production and Intrahousehold Allocation
I26: Returns to Education
J13: Fertility; Family Planning; Child Care; Children; Youth
Keywords  
early childhood intervention
cognitive skills
socio-emotional skills
behavioral skills
randomized controlled trial
multiple-hypothesis testing
permutation testing
inverse probability weighting