NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

Early Childhood Education

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

NBER Working Paper No. 21766
Issued in November 2015
NBER Program(s):   CH   ED

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 paper was revised on December 18, 2015

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w21766

Forthcoming: Early Childhood Education, Sneha Elango, Jorge Luis García, James J. Heckman, Andrés P. Hojman. in Economics of Means-Tested Transfer Programs in the United States, volume 2, Moffitt. 2016

 
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