Katherine Magnuson & Sarah Halpern-Meekin awarded NICHD R01 to continue Baby’s First Years study

Katherine Magnuson (PI) and Sarah Halpern-Meekin (co-I) have received a large NICHD R01 to continue the highly innovative Baby’s First Years study. The study uses an experimental, mixed-method design to assess the causal impact of monthly, unconditional cash gifts to low-income mothers recruited at the time of their child’s birth. Monthly cash gifts provided by charitable foundations began when the children were born and will continue until four months after the child turns 6. Detailed survey data is collected annually through age 4, and comprehensive biomarker and direct assessments were collected at age 4. The new R01 will support following those same families until the children are 8 years old and assessing family well-being as well as children’s physical health, brain activity, and children’s cognitive and socioemotional development.

Baby’s First Years is a powerful test of the causal impact of poverty reduction on early child development—and of the potential benefits of unconditional financial support as a potential remedy. Among other impacts, the study informs ongoing policy discussions in the U.S. about the potential impact of cash transfers to families with young children. The research team, co-led with Greg Duncan at UC-Irvine, Kim Noble at Teacher’s College, and Lisa Gennetian at Duke University, has already produced several important findings. Read further for their work on the effects of cash gifts on infant brain function, on health, nutrition, and sleep, and on contraception. In addition, students take note! The first years of data are all available from ICPSR.

Congratulations to Katherine, Sarah, and the Baby’s First Years team for their important work. Read more about BFY here.