Watching Sesame Street can lead to better success at school and work

Photo: Sesame Street
Photo: Sesame Street 

Preschool-aged kids who watched Sesame Street when it aired in 1969 performed better in school and were more likely to be employed later in life, a new study has found. 

The study, which has been published in the American Economic Journal: Applied Economics 2019, found a correlation between children under seven who watched the show and workplace success.

Kids exposed to the show were more likely to be employed and earning more money than children who didn't watch the kids entertainment programme.

The paper, titled Early Childhood Education by Television: Lessons from Sesame Street, sought to determine whether the introduction of Sesame Street had any affect on school performance as well as focusing on longer-term educational and labour market outcomes.

Study authors Melissa S Kearney and Phillip B Levine used American census information over several years (1980, 1990 and 2000) to cross reference age, education, access to Sesame Street and current employment.  

Commenting on their findings, Kearney and Levine said, "The results of our analysis provide evidence that Sesame Street's introduction generated a positive impact on educational outcomes through the early school years.

"The data indicates positive effects for both boys and girls, with larger point estimates for boys."


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The longer-term effects of the study suggest that the improvement in test scores as a result of watching the show can affect future wages. 


"The magnitude of the estimated wage effects are consistent with forecasts based on the estimated improvements in test scores and grade-for-age status brought about by the show's introduction," the duo reported.

The Emmy award-winning show, originally created to reduce the educational deficits experienced by disadvantaged youth, will celebrate its 50th anniversary this November.