The effects of chess instruction on academic and non-cognitive outcomes: field experimental evidence from a developing country

Asad Islam, Wang-Sheng Lee, Aaron Nicholas

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review


We conduct a randomized field experiment to investigate the benefits of an intensive chess training program undertaken by primary school students in a developing country context. We examine the effects on academic outcomes, and a number of non-cognitive outcomes: risk preferences, patience, creativity and attention/focus. Our main finding is that chess training reduces the level of risk aversion almost a year after the intervention ended. We also find that chess training improves math scores, reduces the incidence of time inconsistency and the incidence of non-monotonic time preferences. However, these (non-risk preference) results are less conclusive once we account for multiple hypothesis testing. We do not find any evidence of significant effects of chess training on other academic outcomes, creativity, and attention/focus.

Original languageEnglish
Article number102615
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Development Economics
Publication statusPublished - May 2021


  • Chess training
  • Math
  • Non-cognitive outcomes
  • Randomized experiment
  • Risk

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