Sleep promotion takes off globally

I recently published this musing in my Substack newsletter. And coming across a further free kick from the policy world — something that would have negative costs and do a lot of good — I thought I’d publish both. Think of this as continuing the series begun over a decade ago of the many policies that promote equity and growth all at the same time!

Reading the abstract below I had one of those silly thoughts I used to have about three decades ago. You know how we were getting into ‘evidence-based’ policy and how we should target more than just GDP. (They didn’t use all those buzzwords then, but the ideas were in the air.) And doing something as sensible as targeting more than GDP was also a policy favoured by the early pioneers of economics like Alfred Marshall and Cecil Pigou.

That leads to the obvious question. What are some of the least cost ways of raising wellbeing (in an evidence-based way of course — we’re not working it out on ouija boards anymore.) Well, if this study is anything to go by, the particular intervention they’re writing up here would have large negative costs because it doesn’t just improve wellbeing. It increases productivity. So unless all those wellbeing frameworks being put out by the Federal and State Governments are being released just because they sound good, you can expect these kinds of programs to being announced weekly for quite some time as they roll off the assembly line.

Sleep: Educational Impact and Habit Formation
Osea Giuntella, Silvia Saccardo, and Sally Sadoff #32550

There is growing evidence on the importance of sleep for productivity, but little is known about the impact of interventions targeting sleep. In a field experiment among U.S. university students, we show that incentives for sleep increase both sleep and academic performance. Motivated by theories of cue-based habit formation, our primary intervention couples personalized bedtime reminders with morning feedback and immediate rewards for sleeping at least seven hours on weeknights. The intervention increases the share of nights with at least seven hours of sleep by 26 percent and average weeknight sleep by an estimated 19 minutes during a four-week treatment period, with persistent effects of about eight minutes per night during a one to five-week post-treatment period. Comparisons to secondary treatments show that immediate incentives have larger impacts on sleep than delayed incentives or reminders and feedback alone during the treatment period, but do not have statisticall! y distinguishable impacts on longer-term sleep habits in the post-treatment period. We estimate that immediate incentives improve average semester course performance by 0.075–0.088 grade points, a 0.10–0.11 standard deviation increase. Our results demonstrate that incentives to sleep can be a cost-effective tool for improving educational outcomes.

Oh wait … Maybe all those frameworks aren’t serious after all.

And here’s the other policy.

Preschool Lottery Admissions and Its Effects on Long-Run Earnings and Outcomes
Randall Akee and Leah R. Clark #32570Abstract:
We use an admissions lottery to estimate the effect of a non-means tested preschool program on students’ long-run earnings, employment, family income, household formation, and geographic mobility. We observe long-run outcomes by linking both admitted and non-admitted individuals to confidential administrative data including tax records. Funding for this preschool program comes from an Indigenous organization, which grants Indigenous students admissions preference and free tuition. We find treated children have between 5 to 6 percent higher earnings as young adults. The results are quite large for young women, especially those from the lower half of the initial parental household income distribution. There is also some evidence that children, regardless of gender, from households with below median parental incomes realize the largest average increases in earnings in adulthood. Finally, we find that increased earnings start at ages 21 and older for the treated students. Like! ly mechanisms include high-quality teachers and curriculum.
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