Economic impacts of mentoring for disadvantaged youth: RCT evidence
This project investigates what role mentoring can play in economic mobility for disadvantaged youth. To answer the question, Bell plans to link tax records to a dataset of youth applicants to a Big Brothers Big Sisters youth mentoring program. Early economic thinking on the intergenerational perpetuation of disadvantage focused primarily on financial channels. Recent work, however, including some funded by Equitable Growth, has highlighted the importance of childhood environments as a key determinant of success. An initial study found significant positive social outcomes among youth who received mentorship at the close of the 18-month Big Brothers Big Sisters program. Outcomes of interest include college attendance, income and employment, teenage birth, incarceration, and reliance on government assistance. This project will build on Bell’s earlier work with Chetty et al. that shows children who grow up near inventors are not only more likely to become inventors, but also are more likely to invent in similar technologies. A better understanding of the role of social exposure will help identify mechanisms of mobility.