Moral Education and Child Development: A Randomized Controlled Trial in Japan

Last registered on May 30, 2024


Trial Information

General Information

Moral Education and Child Development: A Randomized Controlled Trial in Japan
Initial registration date
May 30, 2024

Initial registration date is when the trial was registered.

It corresponds to when the registration was submitted to the Registry to be reviewed for publication.

First published
May 30, 2024, 5:51 AM EDT

First published corresponds to when the trial was first made public on the Registry after being reviewed.


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Primary Investigator

University of Hohenheim

Other Primary Investigator(s)

PI Affiliation
Keio University
PI Affiliation
Keio University
PI Affiliation
Osaka University

Additional Trial Information

In development
Start date
End date
Secondary IDs
Prior work
This trial does not extend or rely on any prior RCTs.
This randomized controlled trial (RCT) is part of a larger project aimed at studying the disruptive effect of the COVID-19 pandemic on the home and learning environment on children and its potential solutions. Children in Japan, like in many other countries, often struggle with social issues such as pressure to perform, bullying, and anxiety, which can have long-lasting negative effects on their development. The COVID-19 pandemic has further aggravated these issues as children experience a more disrupted home environment due to remote schooling and work. This study aims to examine whether raising awareness and moral education can lead to improved socioemotional skills and academic performance for children. Targeted families are randomized into a treatment that addresses different domains of child problems. Emails sent to parents provide information about social issues and suggest potential solutions. We then provide children with videos on moral education stories that promotes good moral behavior and encourage them to think and talk about these stories. The cognitive and socioemotional development of treated children will be compared to their untreated peers in the short and long run. Furthermore, we test whether the moral education story is more effective when presented by a celebrity rather than a representative teacher. The results of this study can have important implications for policy makers and parents seeking cost-effective and nationwide scalable interventions to improve child development and academic performance during challenging times.
External Link(s)

Registration Citation

Akabayashi, Hideo et al. 2024. "Moral Education and Child Development: A Randomized Controlled Trial in Japan." AEA RCT Registry. May 30.
Experimental Details


The intervention consists of two parts. At the beginning of each week, we address a specific social issue by sending parents an email with information about its prevalence and severity. We further provide children with a video that tells a moral education story related to the social issue. Children are encouraged to watch the video, reflect on its implications, and talk about it. Households that agree to participate receive 2,500 Yen (US$ 16) in advance.
Intervention Start Date
Intervention End Date

Primary Outcomes

Primary Outcomes (end points)
Math competence
Reading competence
Behavioral problems/Mental health (SDQ)
Quality of life (KINDL^R)
Primary Outcomes (explanation)

Secondary Outcomes

Secondary Outcomes (end points)
Moral behavior
School attitude
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)

Experimental Design

Experimental Design
Our intervention will target children and their parents across Japan, who will participate in a total intervention period of six weeks. Parents in the treatment group will receive weekly emails about the prevalence and severity of a specific social issue in Japan, and will be asked to have their children watch a video in which a teacher or celebrity reads a story from a moral education textbook related to the social issue. Both treatment and control groups will be invited to participate in short and long-run post-intervention surveys with treated children and parents receiving additional weekly surveys.
Experimental Design Details
Not available
Randomization Method
We randomly divide children into four groups based on their grades, gender, and relative age.
Randomization Unit
Was the treatment clustered?

Experiment Characteristics

Sample size: planned number of clusters
Around 1,000 children. The final number of participating children will depend upon take-up rates and attrition.
Sample size: planned number of observations
Around 1,000 children. The final number of participating children will depend upon take-up rates and attrition.
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
Approximately 250 children in the control group, 250 children in treatment group 1 (teacher), 250 children in treatment group 2 (celebrity, no identity), 125 children in treatment group 3 (celebrity, identity), and 125 children in treatment group 4 (celebrity, identity & picture).
Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)
All our primary outcomes will be standardized measures with mean zero and unity standard deviation. Given a statistical power of 0.8 and a significance level of 0.05, a two-sided test, and a treatment to control ratio of 3:1, we need 1,052 observations to detect an effect of 0.2 SD.

Institutional Review Boards (IRBs)

IRB Name
Keio University Research Ethics Review Committee
IRB Approval Date
IRB Approval Number
Analysis Plan

Analysis Plan Documents

Moral Education and Child Development (Pre-Analysis Plan)

MD5: 068c53b9168502a9ba9db631ff1315ae

SHA1: a22b3ecc0e26546fc16093cf531c3dbef0c462c0

Uploaded At: May 30, 2024