Does Head Start Help Hispanic Children?
Poor educational attainment is a persistent problem among Latino children, relative to non-Latinos. This paper examines the effects of participation in the Head Start program on Latinos. We find that large and significant benefits accrue to Head Start children when we compare them to siblings who did not participate in the program. On average, Head Start closes at least 1/4 of the gap in test scores between Latino children and non-Hispanic white children, and 2/3 of the gap in the probability of grade repetition. Latinos are not a homogenous group and we find that the benefits of Head Start are not evenly distributed across sub-groups. Relative to siblings who attend no preschool from Head Start are greatest among children of Mexican-origin and children of native-born mothers, especially those whose mothers have more human capital. In contrast, Latino children whose mothers are foreign-born and Puerto Rican children appear to reap little benefit from attending Head Start, relative to their siblings.
Published: Journal of Public Economics, Vol. 74, no.2 (November 1999): 235-262. Published as "Does Head Start Make a Difference?", American Economic Review , Vol. 85, no. 3 (1995): 341-364.