The Impacts of Expanding Access to High-Quality Preschool Education
President Obama's "Preschool for All" initiative calls for dramatic increases in the number of 4 year olds enrolled in public preschool programs and in the quality of these programs nationwide. The proposed program shares many characteristics with the universal preschools that have been offered in Georgia and Oklahoma since the 1990s. This study draws together data from multiple sources to estimate the impacts of these "model" state programs on preschool enrollment and a broad set of family and child outcomes. We find that the state programs have increased the preschool enrollment rates of children from lower- and higher-income families alike. For lower-income families, our findings also suggest that the programs have increased the amount of time mothers and children spend together on activities such as reading, the chances that mothers work, and children's test performance as late as eighth grade. For higher-income families, however, we find that the programs have shifted children from private to public preschools, resulting in less of an impact on overall enrollment but a reduction in childcare expenses, and have had no positive effect on children's later test scores.
We thank Patricia Anderson, Jesse Rothstein, our discussants, Caroline Hoxby and Alan Krueger, the editors, David Romer and Justin Wolfers, and other participants in the Fall 2013 Brookings Panel on Economic Activity for helpful comments, and Mary Zaki, Chase Eck, and Gardiner Kreglow for helpful research assistance. The views expressed herein are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Bureau of Economic Research.
Elizabeth Cascio & Diane Whitmore Schanzenbach, 2013. "The Impacts of Expanding Access to High-Quality Preschool Education," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 47(2 (Fall)), pages 127-192. citation courtesy of