Early Childhood Education
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.
This research was supported in part by the American Bar Foundation, the Pritzker Children's Initiative, the Buffett Early Childhood Fund, NIH grants NICHD R37HD065072, NICHD R01HD54702, and NIA R24AG048081, an anonymous funder, Successful Pathways from School to Work, an initiative of the University of Chicago's Committee on Education funded by the Hymen Milgrom Supporting Organization, a grant from the Institute for New Economic Thinking (INET) supporting the Human Capital and Economic Opportunity Global Working Group (HCEO)|an initiative of the Center for the Economics of Human Development (CEHD) and Becker Friedman Institute for Research in Economics (BFI). We are very grateful to Joshua Ka Chun Shea for data managing, research assistance, and useful comments. We also thank Marianne Haramoto, Sylvi Kuperman, Ana Paula Melo, Jack Schmerold, Haonan Zhou, and Anna Ziff for research assistance. Carey Cheng, Fernanda Diaz de la Vega, Sindhu Gnanasambandan, and Damini Sharma helped us improve this draft with useful comments. We thank Robert Moffit, David Blau, the other authors of this volume, and authors of papers cited within this chapter for valuable comments and insights. The views expressed in this paper are those of the authors and not necessarily those of the funders or persons named here or the official views of the National Institutes of Health.