Jenkins researches early childhood development, child and family policy, policy analysis and management, and program evaluation.
The benefits of preschool attendance may spill over directly from students who have preschool experience to their peers when they enter formal schooling. Despite the vast literature on peer effects, little attention has been given to the spillover effects of preschool attendance. This study provides the first experimental evidence of the peer effects of preschool attendance on student cognitive and noncognitive outcomes in early adolescence. We exploit the random assignment of students to classrooms upon junior high school entry (7th grade) using longitudinal, nationally representative data in China. Specifically, we examine the effects of having peers who went to preschool in one’s junior high school classroom on student academic performance, cognitive ability, mental health, school engagement, and educational expectation at the end of 7th grade and 8th grade. We also explore inter-student relationships, student-teacher interaction, and after-school study time as potential mechanisms.
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