nep-neu New Economics Papers
on Neuroeconomics
Issue of 2020‒02‒24
four papers chosen by

  1. Are you what you consume?: Impact of food, soft drinks, and coffee on cognitive and non-cognitive test scores By Sohnesen Thomas
  2. Metacognitive ability predicts learning cue-stimulus associations in the absence of external feedback By Marine Hainguerlot; Jean-Christophe Vergnaud; Vincent de Gardelle
  3. Parental inputs and socio-economic gaps in early child development. By Lindsey Macmillan; Emma Tominey
  4. The Medium Term Impacts of Cash and In-kind Food Transfers on Learning By Avitabile,Ciro; Cunha,Jesse Matthew; Meilman Lomaz Cohn,Ricardo

  1. By: Sohnesen Thomas
    Abstract: Cognitive and non-cognitive tests are key factors in many aspects of economics, especially within labour market analysis.Non-cognitive tests and personality traits are increasingly used, as these are found to be as critical as cognitive abilities for labour market outcomes, while they might be more malleable through life. Intake of caffeine and sugar immediately prior testing is also known to impact cognitive test scores, while almost nothing is known about any similar impact on personality test scores.This work shows, as a first, a significant impact from coffee on the personality trait locus of control. The impact from coffee on locus of control is so large that it significantly alters the results of an analysis of locus of control’s importance for labour market behaviour. Consumption of food, soft drinks, or coffee is found to have no impact on verbal, numerical, and Raven’s Progressive Matrices tests.The study is based on a large sample of university students in Mozambique.
    Keywords: Measurement error,non-cognitive test,Personality traits,glucose,Labour market,caffeine,Cognitive ability,cognitive test
    Date: 2019
  2. By: Marine Hainguerlot (CES - Centre d'économie de la Sorbonne - UP1 - Université Panthéon-Sorbonne - CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique); Jean-Christophe Vergnaud (CES - Centre d'économie de la Sorbonne - UP1 - Université Panthéon-Sorbonne - CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique); Vincent de Gardelle (CES - Centre d'économie de la Sorbonne - UP1 - Université Panthéon-Sorbonne - CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, PSE - Paris School of Economics)
    Abstract: Learning how certain cues in our environment predict specific states of nature is an essential ability for survival. However learning typically requires external feedback, which is not always available in everyday life. One potential substitute for external feedback could be to use the confidence we have in our decisions. Under this hypothesis, if no external feedback is available, then the agents' ability to learn about predictive cues should increase with the quality of their confidence judgments (i.e. metacognitive efficiency). We tested and confirmed this novel prediction in an experimental study using a perceptual decision task. We evaluated in separate sessions the metacognitive abilities of participants (N = 65) and their abilities to learn about predictive cues. As predicted, participants with greater metacognitive abilities learned more about the cues. Knowledge of the cues improved accuracy in the perceptual task. Our results provide strong evidence that confidence plays an active role in improving learning and performance.
    Date: 2018–12
  3. By: Lindsey Macmillan (Centre for Education Policy and Equalising Opportunities, UCL Institute of Education, University College London); Emma Tominey (Department of Economics and Related Studies, University of York & HCEO & IZA)
    Abstract: By the time children start school, socio-economic gaps are evident in child skills. We document a causal effect of a reform to mothers' education on her child's skills and use mediation analysis to explore the role of parental inputs as mechanisms. The reform shifted mothers' education from no, to a low level of qualifications. Our results suggest that financial resources are an important channel, explaining up to 59% of the effect on child cognitive skills. On top of this, parental investments of health behaviours during pregnancy and monetary investments at home explain a further 14% of the test score gaps.
    Keywords: Child development, test scores, socio-emotional skills, parental inputs, decom- position, ALSPAC
    Date: 2020–01
  4. By: Avitabile,Ciro; Cunha,Jesse Matthew; Meilman Lomaz Cohn,Ricardo
    Abstract: This paper studies the medium-term impact of early-life welfare transfers on children's learning. It studies children who were exposed to the randomized controlled trial of the Mexico's Food Support Program (the Programa de Apoyo Alimentario, PAL), in which households were assigned to receive cash, in-kind food transfers, or nothing (a control). The children are matched with administrative data on primary school standardized tests, which were taken four to 10 years after the experiment began. The findings show that in-kind transfers did not impact test scores, while cash transfers led to a significant and meaningful decrease in test scores. An analysis of the mechanisms driving these results reveals that both transfers led to an increase in child labor, which is likely detrimental to learning. In-kind food transfers, however, induced a greater consumption of several key micronutrients that are vital for brain development, which likely attenuated the negative impacts of child labor on learning.
    Date: 2019–12–17

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