We analyze a randomized parent training program that targets the parents of preschool children in Germany. Changes in parent-child interaction during early childhood improve behavioral outcomes 10 years later in adolescence. The effects are stronger for girls and are not confined to low SES-households. The findings suggest that parent-child interaction has a causal effect on child development.
Parent-child interactions are determined endogenously by child behavior, making identification of causal effects challenging. We overcome this endogeneity by analyzing a randomized, universal parent-training intervention on parents of preschool children. Evaluation of adolescent outcomes 10 years after the program suggests improvements to externalizing behaviors and wellbeing of children in the intervention group, mediated by changes to parenting during early childhood. These outcomes are not explained adequately by extant models of parent-child interactions, and so we explore alternative explanations. We show that the benefits of early childhood interventions extend beyond low-socioeconomic households.