Attanasio, Meghir, Smith Awarded J-PAL Grant

Monday, October 5, 2020
Attanasio, Meghir, and Smith

The Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab (J-PAL) has announced that Yale Economics Professors Orazio Attanasio and Costas Meghir, along with Associate Professor of Psychiatry and the Director of Yale Child Study Center, Megan Smith, are the recipients of the US Health Care Delivery Initiative (HCDI) grant.  According to J-PAL, the grant, “supports randomized evaluations of strategies that aim to make health care delivery in the United States more efficient, effective, and equitable.”

The research project called “123-MOMS: RCT Evaluation of a Three-Phase Intervention on Maternal Mental Health and Child Development to Lay the Foundations for Economic Opportunity and Wellbeing,” will test a three phase intervention whose aim will be to improve child development and mothers mental health. The study is planned to take place in New Haven and is co-funded by the Tobin Center for Economic Policy.

The full abstract of the proposal follows:

A key mechanism for the perpetuation of poverty across generations is the accumulated developmental deficits of children from deprived backgrounds, who often lack a nurturing and stimulating environment. Moreover, poverty is associated with an incidence of maternal depression of at least 50%, which, in turn leads to reduced economic opportunities and reduced engagement with children potentially perpetuating poverty intergenerationally. Addressing these effects of poverty on maternal mental health and on child development is an urgent policy matter. We propose to test an intervention delivered virtually via Telehealth  with sequential complementary components: (i) Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and information about parenting skills for low-income pregnant women with depressive symptoms; and (ii) group sessions fostering child stimulation until the child is 15 months old. To evaluate the impacts, we will recruit approximately 500 low-income women with depressive symptoms and allocate them randomly to treatment and control. Outcomes will include child development and maternal mental health, as well as mother’s economic outcomes, including earnings and employment, and knowledge and use of welfare programs and child care services. Long term follow-up will eventually allow a better understanding of the impact of human capital interventions on both mother and child.