TMW Center Newsletter January 2021

January 01, 2021

What We’re Reading

In a new commentary piece published by JAMA Pediatrics, Perri Klass and Dipesh Navsaria discuss a powerful tool that physicians can and should use to support positive parenting and children’s healthy mental, emotional, and behavioral development: encouraging literacy and shared reading. Drawing on the scientific literature and the success of Reach Out and Read, they write:

To promote reading aloud to young children, clinicians should model strategies in the examination room for dialogue building on the words and pictures in a book, encourage regular routines with language and stories, and support the relationships essential for early childhood brain development, from language and early literacy skills to socioemotional development and behavior. Framing reading aloud and book sharing as a way parents show love to their children speaks to the science of reading aloud to children and to the emotional and relational benefits that scaffold parent identity and self-efficacy.

Read their analysis in full here.

Special Journal Issue Built Around TMW Center Work

This month, the Journal of Behavioural Public Policy (BPP), an esteemed interdisciplinary and international journal dedicated to the study of human behavior, published a special issue titled “Field Experiments and Public Policy.”

As the journal’s editors note in their introduction: “The proposal for this special issue was sent to us by Professor John List a few years ago. List has probably done more than anyone else to advance the methods and practice of field experiments, and he and his colleagues Omar Al-Ubaydli, Min Sok Lee, Claire L. Mackevicius and Dana Suskind contribute the lead article to this special issue.”

That article, written by TMW Center Co-Directors List and Suskind and colleagues is titled “How can experiments play a greater role in public policy? Twelve proposals from an economic model of scaling,” and offers a series of practical takeaways from our center’s ongoing work on the science of scaling.

We believe firmly that the science of scaling represents the next frontier in evidence-based policy making. Time and time again, we see interventions that deliver promising results in research settings fail to deliver the same positive effects when scaled up to a broader population. Understanding why is the critical question at the heart of the science of scaling, and one with enormous consequences for policy in early childhood and beyond.

This special issue of BPP, which includes eight additional papers that respond to the lead article, is an exciting step in ensuring that the broader research and policy communities recognize the critical importance of scaling as well.

TMW Center at ASSA 2021

On January 5, TMW Center Research Associate Julie Pernaudet presented at ASSA, the annual event that brings together more than 13,000 of the best minds in economics to celebrate new achievements in economic research. Participating in a session on field experiments in early childhood education and care, Pernaudet shared findings from “It All Starts with Beliefs: Addressing the Roots of Educational Inequities by Changing Parental Beliefs,” a paper she co-authored with her TMW Center colleagues John List and Dana Suskind. The TMW Center was honored to be featured alongside other innovative researchers who are using field experiments to advance our understanding of how to best serve families and achieve impact in early childhood.

How the Gig Economy Puts Children’s Development at Risk and What We Can Do About It

In a new guest column published by the Hechinger Report, TMW Center co-director Dana Suskind explains how the hallmarks of the gig economy—unpredictable schedules and pay and limited access to benefits like health care and parental leave—can threaten the early brain development of workers’ children.

The long-term effects of COVID-19 on this sector of the economy are not yet known, but one thing is clear: As we emerge from the current economic crisis, we must fundamentally rethink the American social safety net, which was built in the mid 20th century, when steady employment and employer-provided benefits were the norm.

But what might a social safety net for the era of gig work look like? Dr. Suskind uses the science of foundational brain development to identify three critical components of a new system that protects workers and their children.

Read the column here.