Date / Time

2:00 pm 29/11/2019 -

3:30 pm 29/11/2019


Room 650, Social Sciences Building (A02)


The University of Sydney, Camperdown NSW, Australia

The University of Sydney, Camperdown NSW, Australia


For further information contact: Dave Mc Manamon | ph: 02-9351 4587 | email:

Skills and preferences developed at an early age may have a profound influence on outcomes in adulthood. Yet, little is known about how early skills map to later life paths. We conduct economic experiments with 854 children aged 3-5 years old, collecting data on time, risk and social preferences, as well as cognitive skills (vocabulary, reading, writing, math) and executive function skills (working memory, inhibitory control, emotion regulation). We return to the children when they are ages 5-12 and collect data on disciplinary referrals at school, which are considered a key predictor of adult outcomes.

We find that executive functions, but not cognitive skills, predict the likelihood of receiving disciplinary referrals in elementary school, and that economic preferences have a significant and independent effect. Children who displayed impatience in preschool are more likely to receive disciplinary referrals in elementary school, even when controlling for cognitive skills and executive functions. Interventions aimed at encouraging care-takers to invest in human capital formation at an early age should be part of an optimal education policy.

Co-authors: John List (The University of Chicago), Ragan Petrie (The University of Melbourne) and Anya Samek (University of Southern California)

Presented by Associate Professor Marco Castillo from Texas A&M University