SOEPpapers on Multidisciplinary Panel Data Research No. 810
It is still widely debated how non-cognitive skills can be affected by policy intervention. For example, universal music education programs are becoming increasingly popular among policy makers in Germany and other developed countries. These are intended to give children from poor families the opportunity to learn a musical instrument. Moreover, policymakers present these programs as innovative policies that are important for the personality development of young children. However, the effects of universal music education on such outcomes are not yet sufficiently studied. This paper analyses the Jedem Kind ein Instrument (an instrument for every child) program in the German state of North Rhine-Westphalia. To do so, data from the German household panel studies SOEP and FiD are combined with regional data on primary and music schools. Using a difference-in-differences estimator, I show that the program successfully increases music participation among disadvantaged children. It does so more effectively than the alternative policy of reducing fees at public music schools. I further find that participation reduces conduct problems and improves student teacher relationships, especially among boys.
music non-cognitive skills inequality SOEP policy evaluation non-formal education