nep-neu New Economics Papers
on Neuroeconomics
Issue of 2018‒03‒12
five papers chosen by

  1. Does Birth Weight Influence Grit or Can Grit Be Learned After Birth? By Leah Gillion
  2. Developmental Pathways Between Low Birth Weight Status and Children's Academic and Socioemotional Competence: The Role of Parenting Processes as a Moderator By Sangita Pudasainee-Kapri; Rachel Razza
  3. Mindfulness and Stress - a Randomised Experiment By Alem, Yonas; Behrendt, Hannah; Belot, Michele; Bíró, Anikó
  4. Neighborhood Air Pollution and Children’s Cognitive Development By Brandon Wagner; Louis Donnelly; Sara McLanahan; Irwin Garfinkel; Jeanne Brooks-Gunn
  5. The Long-Lasting Effects of Family and Childhood on Adult Wellbeing: Evidence from British Cohort Data By Flèche, Sarah; Lekfuangfu, Warn; Clark, Andrew E.

  1. By: Leah Gillion (Princeton University)
    Abstract: In recent studies, scholars have come to view grit as an essential component for success. This field has gained attention because it crosses the social economic spectrum and it is considered to be a learned characteristic. In this paper, I investigate the link between birth endowments and grit and the role parental investment plays in the development of non-cognitive skills. Using data from the Fragile Families Study, I find mixed results. Birth weight is associated with grit, when measured by teachers, but there is little association when measured by parents and the child. Furthermore, parental investment is associated with grit when measured by parents and the child, but there is no association when measured by teachers. This paper suggests that grit is a behavior that can be learned through parental investment, but the returns to parental investment in elementary school are not realized in the academic environment.
    JEL: I12 J13
    Date: 2017
  2. By: Sangita Pudasainee-Kapri (Syracuse University); Rachel Razza (Syracuse University)
    Abstract: The present study examined the longitudinal associations among moderate low birth weight (MLBW), parenting factors, and children’s developmental outcomes within an at-risk sample (N= 1,809), using secondary data from Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing (FFCW) study. Of particular interest was whether parenting factors moderate the associations between MLBW and indicators of both socioemotional and cognitive/academic competence. Birth weight and prenatal data were taken from medical records. Parenting factors were assessed during in-home assessments at ages 3 and 5. Mothers and teachers reported on externalizing behaviors and teachers reported on social skills at age 9. In addition, cognitive/academic outcomes were assessed using teacher reports and standardized assessments at age 9. Overall, findings suggest that MLBW was significantly associated with teacher reports of children's socioemotional competence as well as cognitive/academic outcomes including receptive vocabulary, reading, and math achievement at age 9. These associations remained significant after accounting for a large battery of control variables; the exception was the link between MLBW status and parent's report of externalizing behavior at age 9. Results also indicated that maternal warmth, but not parenting stress, moderated the longitudinal associations between MLBW and cognitive/academic outcomes and teacher-reported socioemotional competence. To conclude, these results highlight the significance of MLBW and positive parenting processes across diverse child outcomes. The implications of these findings are discussed for interventions targeting MLBW children within at-risk populations.
    Keywords: Academic/Cognitive outcomes, Externalizing behaviors, Low birth weight, Maternal warmth, Parenting stress, Social competence
    JEL: I12 J13 I21
    Date: 2017
  3. By: Alem, Yonas (Department of Economics, School of Business, Economics and Law, Göteborg University); Behrendt, Hannah (Department of Economics, University of Edinburgh); Belot, Michele (Department of Economics, University of Edinburgh); Bíró, Anikó (Department of Economics, University of Edinburgh, Corvinus University of Budapest and Hungarian Academy of Sciences)
    Abstract: We conduct a randomised controlled trial of an online course in mindfulness. Previous research has found evidence that mindfulness reduces stress; however, few studies have been carried out on non-clinical populations that have not self-selected into or paid for treatment. Our sample consists of 139 students with no pre-existing medical conditions and no prior information on the experiment and treatments. Half of them are asked to follow a four-week mindfulness training, while the other half are asked to watch a four-week series of historical documentaries. We follow participants for five consecutive weeks, with an additional post-intervention session five months later. We evaluate the effects of the mindfulness program on measures of chronic stress, and on the response to stressful situations, measured by cortisol and self-reports. We find strong evidence that mindfulness training reduces perceived stress, as measured by the Perceived Stress Scale. However, the physiological responses to an acutely stressful situation do not differ significantly between the treatment and control groups.
    Keywords: Stress; Mindfulness; Experiment
    JEL: C81 C91 I10
    Date: 2018–03
  4. By: Brandon Wagner (Texas Tech University); Louis Donnelly (Princeton University); Sara McLanahan (Princeton University); Irwin Garfinkel (Columbia School of Social Work); Jeanne Brooks-Gunn (Teachers College and the College of Physicians and Surgeons at Columbia University)
    Abstract: Exposure to airborne toxins is associated with a variety of health risks. A growing body of research suggests exposure to air pollution negatively impacts neurological function, although the extent to which cumulative exposure throughout childhood matters for children’s cognitive development is unclear. To address this question, we join Census tract-level data on air pollution estimated in the National Air Toxics Assessment by the Environmental Protection Agency to individual-level data from the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study, a birth cohort study following children born in large US cities between 1998 and 2000. We find that children who grow up in neighborhoods with higher levels of neurologically hazardous air pollution score lower on multiple measures of intellectual and academic ability at age 9, even after accounting for parental intelligence and the socio-economic characteristics of families and neighborhoods. We also show that cumulative exposure to air pollution during childhood is associated with declines in relative vocabulary test scores between ages 3 and 9, net of air pollution exposure at birth. Overall, our findings provide strong evidence for the deleterious effect of childhood air pollution on children’s cognitive development.
    JEL: Q53 I24 J13
    Date: 2017
  5. By: Flèche, Sarah; Lekfuangfu, Warn; Clark, Andrew E.
    Abstract: To what extent do childhood experiences continue to affect adult wellbeing over the life course? Previous work on this link has been carried out either at one particular adult age or for some average over adulthood. We here use two British birth-cohort datasets (the 1958 NCDS and the 1970 BCS) to map out the time profile of the effect of childhood experiences on adult outcomes, including life satisfaction. We find that the effects of many aspects of childhood do not fade away over time but are rather remarkably stable. In both birth-cohorts, child non-cognitive skills are the strongest predictors of adult life satisfaction at all ages. Of these, emotional health is the strongest. Childhood cognitive performance is more important than good conduct in explaining adult life satisfaction in the earlier NCDS cohort, whereas this ranking is inverted in the more recent BCS.
    Keywords: life satisfaction, cohort data, childhood, adult outcomes

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