NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

Early Childhood Education

Sneha Elango, Jorge Luis García, James J. Heckman, Andrés Hojman

Chapter in NBER book Economics of Means-Tested Transfer Programs in the United States, volume 2 (2016), Robert A. Moffitt, editor (p. 235 - 297)
Conference held December 5-6, 2014
Published in November 2016 by University of Chicago Press
© 2016 by the National Bureau of Economic Research

This paper organizes and synthesizes the literature on early childhood education and childcare. In it, we go beyond meta-analysis and reanalyze primary data sources in a common framework. We consider the evidence from means-tested demonstration programs, large-scale means-tested programs and universal programs without means testing. We discuss which programs are beneficial and whether they are cost-effective for certain populations. The evidence from high-quality demonstration programs targeted toward disadvantaged children shows beneficial effects. Returns exceed costs, even accounting for the deadweight loss of collecting taxes. When proper policy counterfactuals are constructed, Head Start has beneficial effects on disadvantaged children compared to home alternatives. Universal programs benefit disadvantaged children.

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This chapter first appeared as NBER working paper w21766, Early Childhood Education, Sneha Elango, Jorge Luis García, James J. Heckman, Andrés Hojman
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