Parents’ beliefs about educational investments

Last registered on May 09, 2022


Trial Information

General Information

Parents’ beliefs about educational investments
Initial registration date
May 09, 2022

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 09, 2022, 8:27 PM EDT

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



Primary Investigator

Harvard University

Other Primary Investigator(s)

PI Affiliation
Harvard University
PI Affiliation
Harvard University

Additional Trial Information

On going
Start date
End date
Secondary IDs
Prior work
This trial does not extend or rely on any prior RCTs.
The research studies parent’s beliefs about their investment in extracurricular activities and the implications in student competition, anxiety and educational inequality in China. To compete for limited educational opportunities such as admissions to elite schools, when making educational investments, parents would not only consider their children’s own ability, but also other parents’ behavior. However, due to lack of information, parents might have biased beliefs about the relative level of their investments, which could lead to a suboptimal level of investment as well as excessive anxiety. This study intends to conduct a randomized controlled trial among elementary and middle school parents in a major city in China to examine parents’ beliefs about their relative educational investments. Specifically, the following three research questions will be explored: 1) whether parents consider others’ behavior when making education investments; 2) whether parents have biased beliefs about others’ investment behavior; and 3) when information was given, whether their beliefs and behavior in educational investment would be affected.
External Link(s)

Registration Citation

Huang, Yihong, Yixi Jiang and Fei Yuan. 2022. "Parents’ beliefs about educational investments." AEA RCT Registry. May 09.
Experimental Details


Intervention Start Date
Intervention End Date

Primary Outcomes

Primary Outcomes (end points)
Plans of future time investment in extracurricular activities, beliefs about other parents' plans of future time investment in extracurricular activities, the actual time investment in extracurricular activities
Primary Outcomes (explanation)

Secondary Outcomes

Secondary Outcomes (end points)
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)

Experimental Design

Experimental Design
The experiment design includes three stages. In the first stage, parents of students in cohorts t, t+1, and t+2 are surveyed about the average time their children spent in three types of extracurricular activities (i.e. math, English, and sports and arts). In the second stage of the experiment, parents in cohorts_t+1,t+2 are randomly assigned to (1) information treatment in which they are presented with average weekly hours spent in three types of extracurricular activities by students in cohort_t. Parents also choose their reference group (the overall average or average of the high-performing students) before the information is presented; (2) common knowledge information treatment in which the information presented is exactly the same as the information treatment, except that a common knowledge reminder - "This information will be shared to all parents in your cohort" - is added; (3) no information. In the third stage, parents in cohorts t+1 and t+2 will be surveyed again about their actual investment in their children's extracurricular activities.
Experimental Design Details
Not available
Randomization Method
The randomization was automated and done by a survey collection platform: WenjuanXing(
Randomization Unit
Individual parent
Was the treatment clustered?

Experiment Characteristics

Sample size: planned number of clusters
4 schools
Sample size: planned number of observations
1,005 parents
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
335 parents in the information treatment arm, 335 parents in the information + common knowledge treatment arm, and 335 parents in the control group.
Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)

Institutional Review Boards (IRBs)

IRB Name
Harvard University Area Institutional Review Board
IRB Approval Date
IRB Approval Number