Foster, E. M., & Marcus, J. V. (June 2017). Does participation in music and performing arts influence child development? American Educational Research Journal, 54(3), 399-443.
This article reconsiders the association between childhood arts participation and cognitive and developmental outcomes. Using data from a large, nationally representative sample with extensive covariates, we employ propensity score weighting to adjust comparisons of children who do and do not participate in arts education (music and performing arts lessons) to address potential confounding from selection into arts education. We examine a broad range of outcomes in adolescence and early adulthood (e.g., GPA, self-esteem, college attendance). Our results show that selection into arts education is at least as strong as any direct effect on outcomes, providing no support for the causal associations between arts participation and cognitive outcomes. We do find that arts education increases arts engagement during young adulthood.