University of Chicago economist Gary Becker recently spoke that The Chicago Council on Global Affairs, addressing what he says it will take to keep “the American Dream” alive.

But one idea raised a few eyebrows: paying parents based on their child’s performance in school.

In doing so, a major barrier to a student’s academic success – a financially-unstable homelife – would be alleviated.

From the Chicago Tribune:

“Mexico has a system … (that) gives the parents of kids enrolled in elementary school and some in high school a monthly voucher conditional on the fact that the kid has to attend school regularly and has to do pretty well,” Becker said. “In addition, there are some health aspects. The evaluation of these programs that have been made, and there have been a lot, have shown that the parents that are in the program, their kids do better.”

Harvard University economist and MacArthur “genius grant” winner Roland Fryer has carried out one well-designed study in this regard, experimenting with $6.3 million in incentives for about 38,000 kids in four U.S. cities.

Fryer’s results, published in 2010, were mixed. Paying for higher test scores in New York failed. Paying for higher grades in Chicago resulted in improved grades and attendance but didn’t improve standardized test scores. Rewarding better behavior, such as improved attendance and no fighting, in Washington, D.C., generated a modest improvement in test scores. And success was found in Dallas, where students were paid $2 for every book they could prove they read. Reading scores rose.


Thoughts on Becker’s ideas?

Is paying parents for their child’s academic performance and behavior worth a try?

Sound off below!

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