Children's economic and social outcomes, both during their childhood and in their adult years, largely depend on the circumstances into which they are born and raised. Such circumstances are the product of children's families, schools, and neighborhoods; the peers and adults with whom they spend time; the media images that shape their perceptions of themselves and their place in the world; and other factors-- both internal and external to the individual child. Many would say that culture plays a large role in shaping a child’s life experiences and outcomes.
But culture is hard to define and quantify, and controversial to talk about. Furthermore, the question of what—if anything—policy makers and practitioners can do about culture is hard to grapple with. The articles in this issue take a quantitative, empirically rigorous approach to defining and studying specific cultural constructs, and they advance the policy conversation about how culture shapes children’s outcomes.