Measuring a Baby's First Years, Financially

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An important new study suggests that a very modest guaranteed income (roughly $300 per month) for poor mothers fundamentally improves the brain development in their infants.

Although scientists are careful to note that more research needs to be done, they do suspect that something significant is going on.

“This is the first study to show that money, in and of itself, has a causal impact on brain development,” said Dr. Kimberly G. Noble, a physician and neuroscientist at Teachers College, Columbia University, who helped lead the study.

In the study, 1,000 mothers of newborns were divided into two camps, one which received $20 per month and the other received $333.

Then, using EEG machines, the researchers evaluated the children at age 1 and found that those from homes receiving the higher income showed evidence of higher cognitive development.

The study was performed in part because of strong evidence that children from poorer households generally start school with weaker cognitive capacities. What’s not clear, however, is why the economics of children’s backgrounds impact them negatively (or, in this case, positively).

The guaranteed payments will continue until the children reach the age of 4, with incremental cognitive development studies conducted along the way.

You can follow the study’s progress at its website, Baby’s First Years.

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